Of all the porn moves that have drawn massive attention while simultaneously being greatly misunderstood, ‘squirting’ is probably at the top of the list.
It is also popularly referred to as ‘gushing’, ‘female ejaculation’ or even ‘sexual incontinence’, but those names suggest a variety of mechanisms and sources that may not actually be true for what squirting really is.
So let’s break it down and explore exactly what squirting is, shall we?
Here’s what squirting is not: it is not the same as lubrication. The fluids that lubricate vaginas and vulvas during arousal or even in general, are secreted by cells in the walls of the vagina itself. Its purpose is to minimise friction when you move, have sex, or merely go about everyday life, and is often secreted even in the absence of sexual arousal.
Squirting however, is the release of fluid that does occur in tandem with sexual arousal. It is not secreted from the vaginal walls, and is instead released from the urethra either before, during or after an orgasm, or does not occur with an orgasm at all.
But it isn’t urination. And it also isn’t ejaculation.
Here’s how we know that.
Where people with penises are likely to develop prostates that contribute to the composition of semen, people with vaginas are likely to develop Skene’s glands that produce a secretion to lubricate the urethra, act as an antimicrobial fluid for the urinary tract, and release a whitish secretion during climax which contains prostate-specific antigen (PSA) and prostate-specific acid phosphatase along with high concentrations of glucose and fructose. These fluids are different from the colourless and odourless watery fluid released during squirting.
As for the composition of squirting fluid, trace amounts of urine were found in the samples collected from some individuals. Others had trace amounts of PSA and acid phosphatase. When researchers scanned the bladders of participants before and after squirting, there was a significant difference in the amount of volume present before and after.
But the exact mechanism for squirting or the factors that contribute to it are still largely unknown. Some people are more likely to squirt in certain positions, some have more control over the act and can voluntarily do it, some squirt from G-spot stimulus while others only squirt from clitoral play.
And with the history of poor research conducted on ‘female’ pleasure, it’s safe to assume that not enough resources and funding have been pumped into the exploration of pleasure in vaginal systems or the science of squirting itself.
So how and why is it such a big deal in porn?
Possibly because we love to fetishise what we do not understand or witness on a more regular basis. Possibly also because Wet and Messy sex is a common turn-on for many, and the idea of sweat, spit, lube, ejaculate and squirt getting everywhere makes the idea of sex that much hotter for a lot of people.
But that’s not all. Porn stars and porn creators are also responsible for adding to the mystique around squirting. While some actors claim to drink excess volumes of fluids before filming to increase the odds of them squirting in the scene, others have also admitted to using vaginal douches to fill the vaginal canal with water which then helped them put on a show by releasing larger quantities of fluid for their scene.
In all likelihood, you have experienced some degree of squirting in your sexual experiences but these stigmas and misconceptions convinced you to think of it as momentary loss of bladder control, or ‘too small a volume to qualify as squirting’.
The misconceptions around squirting remain so large and misleading, that countries like the UK have even banned porn videos that feature squirting as they believed it to be the same as urination, and urine-play or urine fetishes are considered obscene there.
For as long as we keep falling for cheats used in porn to support fetishes even at the risk of fuelling a lack of awareness, we will continue to think of squirting as something that anyone with a vagina should be able to do, we will keep conflating it with urination and ‘sexual incontinence’ or associating it with orgasm and assuming that our partners didn’t actually finish because we didn’t see them squirt.
None of these expectations are realistic and are yet another way of reducing sexual connection and intimacy to a performance that can be measured, quantified, ranked or graded. And the act of connecting, communicating and exploring our desires?
That was never supposed to be a contest.