This article was scientifically fact-checked by Human Sexuality expert Dr. Laurie Mintz.
The time has come. You’ve just taken a lover back to your place after some cocktails. They’re so sexy, it’s like they’ve been yanked straight out of your wildest fantasies to be here, in your bed, with you. As the temperature climbs from hot to sizzling, you’re both scrambling towards that fever pitch. Your nerves are all ablaze, you feel like you’re about to burst, when suddenly – oh, no.
A different kind of burst happens instead, one that’s way less pleasant than the Big O: you just queefed. And it was loud. Queefing with a new beau can be so embarrassing that you feel like burrowing into the mattress and hiding until they leave.
Even when you logically know it’s no biggie, queefing in the heat of the moment comes as a shock. The noise can sometimes be enough to stop you both mid-thrust, leaving you and your partner staring at each other, frozen.
But here’s the thing: queefing is only as embarrassing as you make it out to be. If you play it cool, a little noise from down south won’t cut your fun short. And it just so happens that learning more about this funny thing your body does is a surefire way to learn how to handle your next (inevitable) queef with the poise of Lady Gaga.
First thing’s first: queefing isn’t the same thing as farting.
Although queefing and farting share a little common ground – I mean, queefing is also known as vaginal flatulence – there are major differences between the two that can save you from a lot of embarrassment. For starters, you and I both know they come from different orifices entirely: a fart originates from your sweet booty, while a queef is a burst of air escaping from your vagina.
Maybe it’s the proximity of those body parts that makes us feel like queefing is something dirty. The fact that the two sound so similar doesn’t help, but the sound is where the similarities end. Farts are what happen when we digest food – and usually, they bring some smells along for the ride.
Queefing, on the other hand, is nothing more than air that’s gotten trapped inside us and needs to poof its way out of there. Think of your vagina as a little cave inside your bod: there’s only one way in or out. So when air gets caught in there, it has nowhere else to go until eventually, it leaves the exact same way it came in.
And that’s all that’s happening. That’s it. This squelching, strange noise that slices through your intimate moments is just a little air – no funny smells involved. Queefs should always be odorless, and if you find that’s not the case for you, then a trip to the doctor might be in order. Women’s health expert Dr. Jennifer Wider says that stinky queefs should never happen, and could be a sign of a fistula – an inner tear that can sometimes occur after physically traumatic experiences like childbirth, serious infection, or surgery.
Odds are, that’s not what’s happening when you and your dreamboat are going at it. Nine times out of ten, these little noises are just that – noises. Since they’re trapped air, queefs actually have more in common with the fart noises you make with your hands than they do with actual farts. Trapped air has to go somewhere, and usually, that involves flapping along the path of least resistance.
Okay, but why does my body decide to do this at the worst possible times?
One of my favorite parts of having a vagina? It’s essentially nature’s pocket. And pockets are meant to hold things. Sometimes, those are good things like toys, fingers, and penises. Other times, it means we’re able to hold a little bit of air inside.
Unfortunately, it turns out that some of our favorite ways to get down make us ripe for the queefing. When our hips open up, our vaginal muscles relax, inviting all kinds of things in – including puffs of air. Repeated motions sometimes push that air further inside you, while at the same time forcing the air out, making you queef. Don’t think you’re off the hook if your partners don’t have penises or use strap-ons – other insertable toys and fingers can cause queefing.
Although there’s no way to absolutely avoid them, there are certain positions that make you more likely to let one rip. I hate to break it to you, but you probably won’t want to pull these positions from the rotation, either, since queefs are more likely to happen when your pelvis is tilted forward. Translation: doggy style is queef city, as is any position where you tilt your hips to meet your partner’s, taking sex* olympics off the table. When you add getting wet into the mix, your bedroom becomes no stranger to a symphony of strange sounds.
Sex isn’t the only way to queef, either. Moving your pelvis around invites air in, so exercises that activate and open your hips can trigger them too, like yoga, pilates, and pelvic floor exercises. Thankfully, a queef on the floor at a 24 Hour Fitness will generally pass unnoticed. But in the sanctuary of a yoga class? That sounds just as embarrassing as a fart.
But should we just avoid any activity that might make us queef? That doesn’t sound like a fun life to me. I love yoga, pilates, and good sex. Plus, toys and penises and fingers are pleasure bringers, and sex is weird and juicy, anyway. You contort your body into positions that you’d never do otherwise, jiggling and bouncing against another person’s bare skin.
And sure, you could avoid any positions that tilt your pelvis forward during the first few hookups with a new partner, but would you want to? Your partner would probably be more turned off by how rigid you were in the sack than by a queef in the throes of some wild and slippery new angle.
Even sex professionals say you should just go for it, queefs and all. Dr. Stephanie Ros, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of South Florida says, “Sex is weird, noisy, and messy… don’t try to fight it.” Instead, let yourself have fun in the moment. If you ask me, a queef is a small price to pay for multi-orgasmic hookups with a dream lover.
But why do I do it so often? Is there something wrong with me?
If you have sex with other people with vaginas, you already know that queefing is a fact of life. But maybe it feels like you’re doing it way more than the people you’re sleeping with. And if you only have partners with penises, you might not even know how much queefing is “normal,” and are too embarrassed to check in with your bestie about her queefing habits.
But whether you queef every time you get it on or you queef but once a year, your body’s habits are nothing to worry about. That’s easier said than done though, and if you feel like a prolific queefer, you might wonder what makes your body so prone to them in the first place.
Like all things with the body, it’s wonderfully complicated. One thing all vaginas have in common is that they expand when we’re turned on, making it easier for air to find its way inside. From there, your likeliness to queef depends on a range of factors, and there are no hard and fast rules that guarantee someone queefing or not. Three common things that make you more likely to do so are having given birth, having a low BMI, and being young.
That being said, a twenty-year-old mother who’s as skinny as a popsicle stick could very well never queef in her life. That’s because it could have to do with your pelvic floor instead: some evidence points to a weaker pelvic floor upping the likelihood of queefing. But don’t mistake frequent queefs for pelvic issues – you could queef all the time, yet have a very strong pelvic floor. And since your period makes your pelvic floor temporarily weaken, certain times of the month might just encourage your body to be chattier than usual.
Just like how a low BMI doesn’t guarantee anything, a weak pelvic floor doesn’t necessarily translate to more queefs. Every body is unique, and the way you’re shaped inside could just be a perfect hiding place for air – and that’s all there is to it. Your body is fine the way it is, noises and all. So instead of denying yourself the joys of downward dog and doggy style, the best thing you can learn is how to react when the inevitable occurs.
How do I recover from a queef with a super hot hookup?
When you and a partner have been together long enough, it’s easy to laugh off a queef, or even ignore it altogether and keep that sexy momentum going. Those first few times hooking up with someone new though, even the slightest hitch in the ride can be humiliating. Thankfully, now you know why your body makes the sounds it does, meaning you’re back in control.
The next time you queef, here’s what you do: if your hookup has a vagina, then even if they’re a dead ringer for someone as hot as Ruby Rose or Janelle Monae, you don’t have to sweat it. In fact, laugh it off with them. Chances are, it’ll barely register on their radar. The cutie warming your bed has made the same noise many, many times in their life, and your sudden burst won’t kill your chemistry.
If your partner doesn’t have a vagina, it may feel a little more embarrassing, especially if they’re not read up on what a queef is. But just like with any other partner, the best thing to do is laugh with them about it. Unless they’re having penetrative sex with a vagina for the first handful of times in their life, your partner has experienced a queef or two in their day. You aren’t the first. And, barring them swearing off vaginas soon afterward, you won’t be the last.
Instead, the best thing to do is be cavalier about it. If they crack a smile, laugh it off with them – regardless of your partner’s gender. Seasoned lovers know how innocuous a queef is, and most won’t even halt their game to acknowledge it. If your partner has an issue with the sound, then it’s their own problem – not yours. Show them it’s normal by reacting like it is.
If they can’t get over it, then here’s the magic trick that’ll solve that problem each and every time: get dressed, head out the door, and check your Tinder on the train ride home. Someone who is so unfamiliar with vaginas that they’re convinced a queef is something gross is someone who doesn’t deserve to be putting their face (or any other body part) anywhere near that sweet box of yours. Keep swiping – and hit up the next lover who catches your eye. You’ll find someone worth your while that will eat you out til morning comes, who isn’t hung up about something as silly as a queef.
Look, one of the best things about having sex (besides pleasure, obviously), is that it’s fun. It’s squishy, messy and silly. For all those sweet littles deaths that sex offers, it’s also strange, often bordering on awkward. Sounds happen. Fluids occur. And instead of taking those moments and turning them into something to be embarrassed by, just let them happen.
Next time you find yourself with a new lover, let all the awkward parts roll off your back and make room for magic. If there’s a funny noise that comes your way – don’t sweat it. Try laughing instead.
*In this article, for ease of reader understanding, we are using the words sex and intercourse as synonymous, as is done in popular culture in general. Similarly, we use the word “foreplay” the way it is used in popular culture (i.e., the sexual acts such as oral sex that come before intercourse). However, as aptly pointed out by our sex expert Laurie Mintz, we would also like to acknowledge that such language exalts men’s most reliable rout to orgasm and linguistically erases women’s most reliable route to orgasm—clitoral stimulation, either alone or coupled with penetration. Indeed, only between 4% and 18% of women reliably orgasm from penetration alone. We look forward to the day when such language is not commonly used in culture.
Facts checked by:
Dr. Laurie Mintz
Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., is a professor at the University of Florida, teaching Human Sexuality to hundreds of students a year. She has published over 50 research articles and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Mintz also has maintained a private practice for over 30 years, working with individuals and couples on general and sexual issues. She is also an author and speaker, spreading scientifically-accurate, sex-positive information to enhance sexual pleasure.