Squirting, orgasm, and female ejaculation: what’s the difference?

squirting

If you’re not a “squirter” yourself, you’ve probably come across the term, or seen it in porn. General consensus seems to be that squirting or gushing is the release of some fluid during or just before orgasm. Porn would sometimes have us believe that every single woman will squirt bucketfuls approximately five seconds after some stimulation with a dildo — and, indeed, a quick search on Pornhub yields 72,541 videos listed under the search term “squirt”.

However, not all women experience any sort of ejaculation of liquid at orgasm. In fact, studies looking at the percentage of women that squirt show varying results, ranging from 6% to 54%. Another study found that those who reported orgasming from inside the vagina (ie, G-spot) were more likely to report a spurt of fluid at the moment of orgasm.

Similarly to the existence or non-existence of the G-spot, the chemical makeup of the liquid squirted, or female ejaculate (which may or may not be something different), has long been the subject of debate. A firm conclusion about what it is and why it happens, and why it happens in some women and not others, has yet to be reached. But certain aspects of the debate do seem to have been decided by scientists, although not necessarily by women.

“It’s like a more watery version of your normal juices. There’s a definite feeling of release but it’s different to the feeling that you get when you release your bladder.”

A 2014 study looked at the chemical makeup of the liquid released when seven women squirted during sex. The women went to the loo prior to sex, and scans showed their bladders were empty. After the women became sexually aroused, either alone or with a partner, they had another ultrasound, which showed their bladders had re-filled a noticeable amount. After squirting, the ultrasounds showed the women’s bladders were empty again, supporting the notion that the liquid released in squirting is urine.

Not all women necessarily agree with the scientific consensus that squirting, or gushing, is specifically urine. Louise, 42, says she was in her late 30s when she squirted for the first time, and says she doesn’t know of any particular difference between female ejaculation and squirting. “I’ve mostly heard it referred to as ‘rainmaking’,” she says, “Mainly in porn – but I’m guessing it’s all the same thing.”

She believes the liquid produced is different to urine. “It’s like a more watery version of your normal juices,” she says. “There’s a definite feeling of release but it’s different to the feeling that you get when you release your bladder.”

Indeed, scientists of the same study believe they have also proved there is a difference between squirting and ejaculation, or rather: ejaculate can be released when you squirt, but not necessarily.

Analysis showed that the components of urine — urea, creatinine, and uric acid — were visible in the liquid squirted. However, after squirting, the liquid contained, in five out of the seven participants, prostatic-specific antigen (PSA), not present in the urine sample given before stimulation. This suggests that PSA, referred to as female ejaculate, is something different to squirting, but can be found in the liquid squirted in some individuals.

PSA is believed to come out of the Skene glands that drain into the urethra, and is a milky white fluid. This is different in colour, and amount, to the liquid released (sometimes alongside it) when a woman squirts.

Speaking to New Scientist, neurophysiologist Beverly Whipple said that the term “female ejaculation” should really only refer to this milky white fluid. Reasons why some women seem to produce this ejaculate and others don’t, and why it seems to be present in some women’s “squirt” and not others, are still up for debate.

Contrary to what many believe, that squirting only happens when the G-spot is stimulated during penetration, Louise adds that she squirts from oral at the start when she and her partner are in a 69 position. “It’s only when I come particularly hard,” she says.

As many other women will testify, orgasm doesn’t always lead to squirting, although the lead scientist of the ultrasound study believes every woman is capable of squirting. For most women, however, orgasm is simply the moment of climax, or to quote the NHS “an intense, pleasurable release of sexual tension that is accompanied by contractions of the genital muscles”.

Analysis showed that the components of urine — urea, creatinine, and uric acid — were visible in the liquid squirted. However, after squirting, the liquid contained, in five out of the seven participants, prostatic-specific antigen (PSA). This suggests that PSA, referred to as female ejaculate, is something different to squirting, but can be found in the liquid squirted in some individuals.

It may be because not all women squirt when they orgasm that being a squirter is something that some may feel uncomfortable with, particularly when it happens for the first time.

While Louise says she enjoys the sensation of squirting — “I had one of those orgasms when you feel like your brain is going to explode, then felt this whole-body release”, she adds that she is “almost always embarrassed”.

“My husband is great about it,” she says, “and reckons he finds it a real boost”. However she adds that she wonders if that maybe because it’s a pride thing, or he sees it as an achievement. She adds, “It’s still incredibly embarrassing for me, especially if it catches him unawares and he’s coughing and spluttering.”

“I’m trying to train myself to take pride in it rather than be embarrassed, and I’d like to think I’ve never been ashamed of it, but I’ll admit it’s a lot easier because it’s only ever happened with my long-term partner rather than a casual relationship.”

Whether you are a squirter or not, then, both are entirely normal, so there is no reason to be ashamed. As for the exact chemical makeup of liquid released this can vary between women, and we still don’t know why. So, squirt or no squirt, ejaculate or no ejaculate, as long as you’re enjoying yourself if’s probably fine.

Imogen Robinson

Deputy Editor, The Femedic

Imogen joined The Femedic after working as a news reporter. Becoming frustrated with the neverending clickbait, she jumped at the chance to work for a site whose ethos revolves around honesty and empathy. From reading articles by doctors to researching her own, and discussing health with a huge variety of women, she is fascinated by just how little we are told about our own bodies and women-specific health issues, and is excited to be working on a site which will dispel myths and taboos, and hopefully help a lot of women.

View more