What Is Queefing & Why Do We Do It?

Photographed by Nicholas Bloise.
Though I know it's wrong to snoop on your significant other, there was one time in college when I caved in to the temptation. My boyfriend logged into Facebook on my computer, and after he left, I noticed a private message window. In it, he told his friend something I will never forget: that my vagina was "flatulent." I knew what he was referencing: I had once queefed while we were having sex. When it happened, we laughed for a second then moved on. But apparently, it had become the butt of a joke between him and a friend. In reality, queefing is not typically a sign of "flatulance" or any kind of problem — it's a normal physiological reaction to any activity that pushes air into the vagina (like sex). "Queefing is the audible escape of air from the vaginal canal through the vaginal opening," explains sex researcher Nicole Prause, PhD. "Many body positions and intercourse positions can encourage the introduction of air into this space of the body." It's most likely to happen, though, from sex that either involves re-inserting something into the vagina repeatedly or opening the vagina wider than usual (which also explains why you may queef after assuming happy baby pose during yoga). Queefing is also a bit more common in younger women, women who have recently given birth, and those with a longer vagina (meaning: those with a longer distance between the uterus and vaginal opening). According to Prause, there are rare reports of medical complications resulting from excessive air in the vaginal canal. One paper in the International Journal of Legal Medicine describes fatalities resulting from forcing air into the vagina. And queefing plus abdominal pain can sometimes indicate a problem like fistulas or prolapse. Again, this is rare, but on the off-chance that persistent or severe discomfort accompanies your queefs, you may want to consult a doctor — you're better off safe than sorry. "Never be too embarrassed to tell an emergency department what you were really doing if you begin having possible symptoms," says Prause. The queefs you get through exercise or sex are not a problem in and of themselves, though, and a noise alone is certainly not cause for concern. So, my ex's comment was totally off base: It's very normal for vaginas to be make noises when air passes in and out of them, and there's no reason whatsoever to be embarrassed about that. Fortunately, my current boyfriend has a far more sex-positive view of queefing. He enjoys it, he says, because it sounds like my vagina is "agreeing" with him. That may not be scientifically accurate, but it's certainly a lot less shaming.

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