What is Squirting: female ejaculation or just pee?

Squirting, more formally known as female ejaculation, is one of the least researched and most controversial aspects of female pleasure.

Ejaculation is a powerful bodily experience that has long been associated with penises and male sexuality. But ejaculation from the vulva or vagina can also happen, before, during, after, or without orgasm. Now that there is more understanding that women and people assigned female at birth do have a sexuality—that we aren’t passive sexual objects—there’s more openness and awareness about our sexual biology, desires, and appetites. Squirting is just one part of that.

What is squirting?

A person with a vulva emits liquid from the urethra (where pee comes from) in response to sexual stimulation or orgasm. The fluid looks like water and is colorless and odorless. Squirting is different to vaginal lubrication or discharge (being “wet”), which is produced by the Bartholin glands and secreted by your vaginal walls.

A quick squirting history lesson

It has been recorded in history more than 2000 years ago as the phenomenon of female ejaculation, yet its existence is widely debated.

In 2010, urologist Joanna Korda and her colleagues combed through translations of ancient literary texts and plucked out multiple references to the ejaculation of sexual fluids.
The Kamasutra (written in 200–400 A.D.) speaks of “female semen” that “falls continually” while a 4th century Taoist text, “Secret Instructions Concerning the Jade Chamber,” distinguishes between “slippery vagina” and “the genitals transmit fluid.” Korda and her coauthors reasoned that the latter can clearly be interpreted as female ejaculation.

Can we all squirt?

The International Society for Sexual Medicine reports that 10% to 50% of women ejaculate, but that “most aren’t aware of it because the fluid often flows backward into the bladder instead of outside of the body.”

The amount of fluid squirted differs a lot from person to person. It can be barely noticeable to high pressure streams (often portrayed in porn). Because it differs so much in each person, it is hard to provide conclusive data.

Is squirting just pee? The science behind it

Because the scientific data is lacking, we don’t have enough evidence on the composition of the liquid itself. For a long time, researchers thought that female ejaculation was just urine, and many people still believe this. Some experts still claim that female ejaculate is mostly composed of urine, but we don’t have sufficient studies to say for sure.

In 2015, a small study concluded that “squirting is essentially the involuntary emission of urine during sexual activity”. In this study, seven women peed before sex and then had their bladders scanned before and after squirting. The researchers noted that the women’s bladders filled before squirting, and then emptied right after. The study quickly made headlines and mainstream media was quick to misreport it by stating that squirting is just pee.

However, not only did the study only include seven women, it also found that five out of the seven women had prostate-specific antigens (PSAs) in their squirt. PSAs is an enzyme produced by the prostate gland in men and found in semen, but not usually associated with urine – which is made up of 95% water and trace amounts of urea, creatinine, and minerals like sodium and potassium.

Research published in Sexuality and Human Rights in 1997 showed that PSAs was absent from women’s urine before masturbation, but present in both their urine and their ejaculate liquid after masturbation. Meanwhile, other scientific analysis shows that urea and creatinine were only present in very low levels.

Where do the PSAs in female ejaculate come from?

Skene’s glands, also known as the paraurethral glands, they’re located on the front wall of the vagina, and they drain fluid via ducts in the urethra. For this reason, some scientists believe that the Skene’s glands are involved in the mechanisms of squirting, and release a liquid that makes up female ejaculate.

This illustration of a vagina shows the bartholin's gland ducts and the skene's glands, that are responsible for squirting or female ejaculation.

Is squirting and female ejaculation the same thing?

Some experts believe that “squirting” and “female ejaculation” are two different things, and the terms shouldn’t be used interchangeably. According to some scientists, squirting is used to describe the emission of fluid that is clear and colorless, comes from the bladder, and with a similar make up to urine. Female ejaculation, on the other hand, is used to describe the release of milky-white fluid that contains PSAs and originates from the Skene’s glands.

Regardless of the disagreements between scientists, we know what some squirt and others don’t, and we don’t know why that is the case. It’s still not clear if squirting serves any biological function aside from pleasure, but some research suggests that it may be your body’s way of preventing infections.

Some scientists theorize that ejaculatory fluid flushes out any bad bacteria that made its way up your urethra during intercourse, preventing UTIs.

It’s the 21st century, why don’t we know this already about squirting?

“Someone can squirt without being penetrated, without an orgasm and this bodily phenomenon is not related to anyone except for the person doing the squirting. I think a lot of cis-men are having a hard time reconciling with that. Lastly squirting (much like all of sex related to vulvas) is highly under researched and underfunded.” – Lola Jean

The debate about squirting and female ejaculation is symptomatic of a culture that fails female bodies time and again. The lack of research and overall consensus goes to show how uncomfortable society is with female pleasure.

Reducing female ejaculate to just “diluted pee” without investigating oversimplifies a complex process of female pleasure, ultimately doing it a disservice.

Shame around Squirting

Squirting (much like all of sex related to vulvas) is highly under researched and underfunded.

“Squirting is a physical manifestation of pleasure that can’t be easily faked (at least in person) so it has become this sexual trophy highly sought after”, – Lola Jean, sex educator and world record holder of volume squirting.

Shaming and marginalizing women for their sexuality is a long part of human history. From masturbation to queefing, if it’s aligned with sexual pleasure, it’s been labelled abnormal at some point – and squirting is no exception.

Ultimately more research on squirting and female ejaculation is needed (it deserves the attention), but the real work should go into normalizing this perfectly healthy function and empowering women to feel comfortable in their bodies. Whether they squirt or not.


It’s part of the orgasm for me

“One of the first times I squirted was with a long-term partner, I was in my early twenties and felt quite embarrassed, I worried it was pee. My partner and I smelled it and tried tasting it, coming to the conclusion it wasn’t pee and that if it was, it really didn’t matter. At that time it didn’t happen so frequently and I didn’t feel as confident about it or understand it as much as I do now. Now, it happens often and I feel like I have much more control over it.
I can squirt much further distances these days and larger amounts of liquid. With time my feelings have definitely changed: as long as the surface is OK to squirt on, I really enjoy squirting and find it very pleasurable. I’ll often squirt right as I’m coming, it’s part of the orgasm for me.”

— Princess (cisgender woman, queer)

“When I squirt I feel really good with my body and my gender”

“The first time I squirted it was like a fountain and I was pretty surprised. The person I was having sex with didn’t care, she acted like it was completely normal and just kept going. I was all wet, it felt so great! These days I squirt mostly at the beginning of my cycle: the first week or two after my period finishes. I really feel good about squirting. I like how it makes people happy or surprised. To me it’s like a counterbalance to male ejaculation. As someone who identifies as non-binary, it’s very interesting to play with this.
Every time I have sex I identify as a different gender, or as someone with every gender possible. When I squirt I feel really good with my body and my gender. I don’t need to have a cock to ejaculate, it’s like I can have everything. It’s also a victory, about letting my body go. Maybe it’s pee or maybe it’s not, I don’t care. It’s very satisfying to just let my body do what it wants to do.
I don’t orgasm before squirting, and for me to squirt requires very physical almost violent penetration, and when I squirt I empty myself in a way. So sometimes I can orgasm after, but usually after squirting I need to stop the sex — squirting is already something intense for me. Sometimes I squirt at the time of orgasm, it might be that my partner notices and tells me, or sometimes it’s very strong and I notice it myself.”
— Anonymous (non-binary, queer)

” I feel very sexy and powerful when squirting”

“The first time I squirted I was about 18 or 19 years old. I was masturbating in the shower with the pressure stream from the shower head, and I just came really hard, squirting out. It felt amazing, like an extreme release and relaxation I hadn’t experienced before; intense pleasure. Now I squirt every time there is the right pressure put on my G-spot or when I masturbate with the shower head.
Most of the time I orgasm and squirt at the same time, but sometimes I will squirt shortly before or after I come. I feel great about it and have done since the first time. I feel very sexy and powerful when squirting. My partners also seem to enjoy it a lot, at least I haven’t had any complaints.”
— Layana (cisgender woman, queer)