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How Orgasms Work

        Health | Sexuality

Everything You Wanted to Know About Ejaculation but Were Too Afraid to Ask
Yes, female ejaculation exists.
Yes, female ejaculation exists.
Compassionate Eye Foundation/David Oxberry/OJO Images Ltd/Getty Images

Eyebrow-raising sex researcher Alfred Kinsey was as curious about ejaculation as the next fellow. Luckily for him, he had the academic credentials to settle the matter. Recruiting a couple hundred male volunteers to his Indiana University laboratory in the late 1940s, he placed sheets on the floor and asked the men to masturbate, notating how far their seminal fluid traveled. The long-distance winner's semen traversed almost 8 feet [source: Roach].

Propelled by a handful of pelvic contractions, ejaculate moves through the urethra at a swift 28 miles per hour (45 kilometers per hour), on average. It then slows down drastically during its narrow escape, and once inside the vagina, the typical 1 to 2 teaspoons of ejaculate eases to a veritable crawl, clocking in at 0.0011 miles per hour (0.0017 kilometers per hour)[source: Margolis]. And what's contained in that masculine elixir? Sperm, of course, but it's only a minor ingredient. The nutrient-packed fluid primarily originates in the seminal vesicles -- male glands tucked up near the bladder and attached to the vas deferens -- and combines with secretions from the prostate glands and vas deferens collected during sperms' ejaculatory journey [source: Elliott].

As if the female orgasm isn't fraught with enough issues of unpredictability and doubt as to why it even exists, the existence of female ejaculation is often a subject of debate as well. In a 1950 study published in The International Journal of Sexology, gynecologist Ernest Gräfenberg first hypothesized that stimulation of tissue surrounding the female urethra could prompt orgasm accompanied by an ejaculate-like fluid [source: Korda et al]. Although the location of Gräfenberg's namesake G-spot remains contentious, scientific evidence confirms that women can ejaculate -- but few do [source: Moalem].

Alternately known as the female prostate, paraurethral glands, and Skene's glands, this tissue's ducts can release fluid into the urethra, which is then expelled during orgasm [source: Wimpissinger et al]. A 1981 analysis of female ejaculate confirmed that though the liquid comes from the urethra, it didn't match urine's chemical composition [source: Addiego et al]. Rather, female ejaculate is more reminiscent of male ejaculate, compellingly containing prostate-specific antigen and prostate-specific acid phosphatase, two proteins that show up in semen [source: Adams]. Large-scale studies are still needed to determine the prevalence rate of female ejaculation and whether it serves any purpose, aside from adding yet another wrinkle to women's sexual function.


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