There are few longer-standing controversies in the realm of sexual health than squirting. Is it pee? Is it cum? Is it possible at all, or a myth?
A new study asked more than 3,000 women ranging in age from 18 to 93 about their experiences with squirting, how they do it and how they feel about it. It found that four in 10 participants have ever experienced squirting, and 60 percent found it pleasurable. But many people reported having serious anxieties about the act—likely not helped by decades of arguing about whether it’s technically piss play to squirt during sex.
The study was conducted by researchers from For Goodness Sake, which also sells OMGYES, an online sex ed resource. The analysis used the second OMGYES Pleasure Report from July 2018, and was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Sex Research in August. The lead researchers are Christiana von Hippel, research advisor at sex research company For Goodness Sake, and Devon J. Hensel, professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine.
It’s the same group and report that developed new definitions for anal sex acts last year. Like anal, squirting is something that appears in pop culture as a poorly understood sex act, which carries its own stigmas. When we talk about squirting, it’s often not even clear what we mean: historically, “female ejaculation” and “squirting” were used interchangeably, but recent research shows that while they can be used interchangeably in colloquial terms, they’re completely different things. In 2015, after a controversial study came out that equated squirt with pee, people started the #NoPee hashtag. “Squirting isn’t real” has been the basis for many a meme for almost 10 years running.
For this study, however, the researchers didn’t make anyone taste their squirt to prove what happened. They defined squirting as an “actual gust of liquid” and not vaginal wetness or lubrication. The questions were mainly focused on individual experiences when people self-definitively squirted, and how they felt during and after it.
The study’s participants were mostly self-described heterosexuals in married, committed, or dating relationships. Only 21 percent said they were single and not dating. The median age of the first time they squirted was 24, and about 60 percent found squirting pleasurable “to some extent,” according to the study. Seventy-five percent said they needed to use deliberate techniques to build up and release, but the majority said they first discovered they could squirt by accident, during sex with a partner or solo masturbation.
The researchers didn’t just question participants about techniques and whether they could squirt or not, but went deeper with questions about their biggest concerns around the activity. Forty-one percent said they were worried about hygiene because they were scared they were peeing, and 28 percent worried they’d make a mess. Some said they were concerned about losing control of their bodies, or felt self-conscious that they required too much stimulation from a partner.
The study not only shows that squirting isn’t some rare sexual superpower or a porn stunt, but something many people experience. And it shows that a myth as prevalent as “squirt is pee” or hangups about taking too long to orgasm can create real barriers to pleasure.
“In the absence of other models, women or their partners may use myths as a reference for what their squirting experience ‘should be like,’” the researchers wrote. “Our detailed measurement and nationally representative data highlight the variability of squirting experiences that women have in ‘real life.’”