What is queefing?
Queefing is the forcible expulsion of air from the vagina, often accompanied by a sound. Many people mistake this noise for a fart—but this isn’t really accurate. Whereas farting involves the expulsion of gas from the digestive tract, a queef is just air that’s been sucked into the vagina—usually as the result of sex or exercise—and then pushed out. Unlike many farts, queefs are completely odorless.
Why does queefing happen?
The vagina is a tube of highly elastic tissue that often becomes longer and wider in response to sexual arousal. During penetration with a finger, toy, or penis, air can be forced into the vagina and then squeezed back out again when the object is removed or when you change positions. Being super turned on can make penetration more comfortable by increasing the stretchiness and capacity of the vagina—it can also lead to more, and louder, queefs, since there is more space in the vagina that can be filled with air (1). Queefs are also common during exercise; certain movements can cause air to be sucked into the vagina and then pushed out, resulting in the kind of “ppffft!” sound usually associated with farts.
Is queefing normal?
Yes, queefing is totally normal. While it hasn’t been extensively studied, existing research suggests that most people with vaginas—around 70%— have experienced queefing at some point in their lives (2).
What is queefing like?
For most people, queefing produces no physical discomfort, but may provoke feelings of embarrassment or shame (2). Especially if queefing happens during sex, some people worry that their partner will be turned off. In most cases, though, queefing is a non-issue for the partners of vulva-owners, with no impact on sexual enjoyment (3).
Why do I queef so much?
While most people with vaginas will queef at some point during their lives, some people experience queefing more frequently. Because the muscles of the pelvic floor are responsible for keeping the vagina closed, lower strength in these muscles can lead to increased queefing. Some factors that may impact pelvic floor strength include childbirth, being underweight, and pelvic surgery (2).
Certain exercises, especially those that involve vigorous movements, stretching, and bending (jogging, sit-ups, yoga, or gymnastics, for example) can also suck air into the vagina and cause more frequent queefs (2).
Are there medical conditions that cause queefing?
In some rare instances, pelvic organ prolapse, or POP, a condition in which the muscles of the pelvic floor can no longer support pelvic organs like the bladder, rectum, or uterus, may increase queefing (2). POP usually isn’t serious—many people may not even know they have one—and can be treated with pelvic floor exercises, minor corrective surgery, or the placement of a device known as a pessary into the vagina (4).
Another rare, but potentially serious, condition that may mimic queefing is a vaginal fistula. A vaginal fistula is an abnormal opening between the vagina and another space in the body, like the bladder or rectum, that can result from childbirth, Crohn’s disease, or another medical problem. In the case of a fistula involving the colon, rectum, or anus, intestinal gas may pass through this opening and out of the vagina (5). If the air passing from your vagina has a bad odor and is accompanied by pain, nausea, or incontinence (trouble holding in poop or pee), consult a healthcare professional right away.
How can I avoid queefing?
For many people with vaginas, queefing is a fact of life—chances are, it will happen from time to time. Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen the muscles that support the vaginal walls, making the vagina less likely to open involuntarily and suck in air; however, there is no evidence that this can actually prevent queefing (2).
Sex positions in which the vagina is more open, like doggystyle, can encourage queefing; positions that are less likely to introduce air into the vagina, like missionary or spooning, may reduce it (2).
Avoiding movements like sit-ups or upside-down yoga poses that create negative pressure and suck air into the vagina can minimize queefing during exercise. Inserting a tampon into the vagina can eliminate queefs, as it prevents sound-producing contact between the vaginal walls when trapped air is released (2).
What if I queef during sex?
Queefing during sex can be embarrassing—but it doesn’t have to be a mood-killer. If you’re comfortable doing so, you can laugh it off and keep going. You can also acknowledge the queef with humor (“oops! I’m really having fun, I guess my [pussy/vagina/your preferred term] had to say something!”) or matter-of-factly (“sometimes air gets trapped in my vagina during sex and makes a noise”).
In some situations—maybe you have a new partner, a history of trauma, or grew up thinking that bodily functions or sex are taboo or shameful—you might be too embarrassed to continue right away. If this is you, that’s ok! If a queef intrudes on a sexy experience and takes you out of the moment, you can let your partner know that you need some time to regroup by saying something like, “that was really embarrassing for me, and I need a minute. Can you touch yourself while I take a break?” or, “unfortunately, that really killed my mood! Can we pick up where we left off later?” It can also be helpful to talk about queefs before they happen. If you’re worried that you might queef during sex, try sharing your concerns with your partner—talking it over might help to reassure you that it’s no big deal, as well as helping you to come up with strategies to deal with embarrassing moments during sex.
One of the best things you can do to address discomfort with queefing—and to enhance your sex life in general—is to work on building your confidence. Acknowledging that real bodies don’t conform to the narrow expectations presented in media, cultivating trust in and comfort with your partner(s), and communicating openly about your needs, desires, and worries around sex can help you to move beyond shame and into deeper acceptance and enjoyment of your body in all of its messy, unpredictable, and occasionally noisy glory.