1. First things first, they’re not farts.
Although the scientific and Latin term is indeed “flatus vaginalis” (yes, vaginal flatulence), let’s stop refering to them as “vagina farts.” “The term fart is not appropriate,” Dr. Beatrice Guigues, vice president of the Collège national des gynécologues et obstétriciens français (CNGOF), tells BuzzFeed. Simply, because “it has nothing to do with fermentation or gases. Rather, it is air that penetrates the vagina and is simply released.”
But then, you might be wondering, why do they make noise? “When air enters an enclosed space,” says the gynecologist, “it must come out. And if the orifice is a little closed, it will produce a sound, a bit like a musical instrument.”
2. And it’s not disgusting.
Even if the noise makes you think of a fart, it is necessary to realize that there is a difference between the phenomenon of air being expelled from the vagina and that of flatulence, insists Philippe Kempeneers, professor of sexology at the University of Lièges.
“People may be embarrassed because of a psychological phenomenon of association. The sound element can provoke a reaction of disgust as it can be evocative of a fart and of excretion. The location, in the area of the bottom, can also be evocative of impurity, of dirt. But these are cultural associations.”
Remember, there is nothing dirty about this phenomenon.
3. It’s odorless.
If air comes out of your vagina or that of your partner, it will not smell bad.
4. And it happens to anyone with a vagina.
Now that you know that there is nothing embarrassing about the air coming out of your vagina, you can be at ease. It’s a fairly common phenomenon for anyone with a vagina, at any age.
5. It happens mostly during sex.
And, of course, this little noise can be particularly heard during intimate moments. “During sexual intercourse, the vagina increases in size,” says Beatrice Guigues. Inevitably, this increases the possibility of air entering the vagina: the more it opens, the more the air penetrates.
“When the woman is aroused, her vaginal cavity expands,” explains Kempeneers. “This can produce an air suction. Once the air enters and the vagina contracts, for a mechanical reason or an absence of arousal, there will be an expulsion of air,” adds the sexologist. And if a penis, finger, or sex toy are also introduced in there, this will produce a pressure effect that can push it out more or less noisily.
6. But it’s not necessarily dependent on position.
You may now be wondering if there are certain positions to avoid. “Not all vaginas are alike, it depends on the particular morphology of each person’s vagina. And it’s less a matter of position than of manner of manipulation,” says Kempeneers. For example, “If you make a scissoring movement with the fingers, air is more likely to be introduced than if you insert one or two fingers into the vagina without doing this type of movement.
7. It can also be a result of weaker pelvic floor muscles.
You may be more likely to queef if you have weaker pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles and ligaments that support the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. As physiotherapist Marina Cremel explains to BuzzFeed, this can happen as a result of childbirth, chronic constipation, or even some sports (like running or gymnastics). As physiotherapist Marina Cremel puts it: “The overwhelming majority of women involved are those with a weak pelvic floor.”
Most of them are young women who have already given birth, particularly those “who have had a big baby and a long and difficult labor.” Interestingly, great female athletes also risk having a weak pelvic floor. Some sports have been shown to weaken this area. This is the case of running, toning gymnastics or even ab exercises, because the abdominal impacts and pressures will damage the muscle of the perineum, thus making it less effective. The same goes for some chronically constipated women: the effect of repeated abdominal thrusts on their pelvic floor in order to move their bowels will weaken their perineum.
8. But queefing really isn’t anything to worry about from a medical perspective.
“You must not believe that if your vagina makes noises, it’s bound to have a problem with the tone of the pelvic floor,” recalls the vice-president of the CNGOF. “It’s a purely natural phenomenon. Above all, you must not dramatize or imagine that this is the first sign of a morbid loosening of the vaginal musculature,” insists Philippe Kempeneers.
9. Your menstrual cycle can affect queefing.
As Cremel points out, “the pelvic floor is hormone-dependent.” More specifically, “some women experience transient weakness of the pelvic floor during ovulation or menstruation.”
10. But if you’re worried, you can always visit your gynecologist.
If, however, these vaginal noises occur frequently, even at rest, and if they are associated with other discomforts, such as urine leaks, a lack of sensation during intercourse, or water entering your vagina when taking a bath or going to the pool, you may want to ask your gynecologist about exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor. You can learn more about these exercises here.
11. Remember, queefing is totally normal and shouldn’t get in the way of your sex life.
“There is no harm in associating the air expelled from the vagina with flatulence,” points out Kempeneers. After all, your hands can produce fart-like noises as well, but you are not disgusted every time you see a finger approaching you!
“It’s up to lovers to re-contextualize this in a better light. Perhaps you could associate the noise with the sound of popping a bottle of champagne: it’s less pejorative and much more enticing.”