I have a feeling I may have broken one of the last taboos in today’s blog by examining vaginal flatulence – also known more colloquially as ‘varting’ (an amalgam of ‘vaginal farting’), ‘queefing’ (based on the onomatopoeic sound made by vaginal flatulence) and (in the UK at least) ‘fanny farting’. A short entry on queefing as part of the ‘Fetish University’ series of articles at the Masturbation Fascination website notes that:
“A queef is a vaginal fart. A queef is the expulsion of wind from the vulva – normally during sexual intercourse or other sexual activities…Truth is, it’s highly, highly embarrassing. I think most women have experienced it at least once in their lifetime and this is really no sexy way to brush it off. Unless of course, your partner has a queef fetish”.
The Wikipedia entry on vaginal flatulence notes that it simply involves an expulsion or emission of air from the vagina that typically occurs during or after sex, or during stretching exercises. Aurally, the sound is similar to anal flatulence but does not smell. Unfortunately, vaginal flatulence that smells usually indicates serious medical conditions. This can include colovaginal fistula (i.e., a tear between the colon and vagina) that can be caused by a range of different things including childbirth, surgical accidents, and Crohn’s disease. If left untreated, it can lead to serous urinary tract infections. More seriously it can be a consequence of another condition that can be caused by childbirth – genital prolapse. According to the Nation Master website, the vaginal flatulence after sexual intercourse “appears to be due to the decrease in the size of the vagina as it returns to a quiescent state when arousal ends”.
As far as I am aware, the first academic paper to examine vaginal flatulence was by Dr. Haim Krissi and colleagues in the journal International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (in 2003). In fact, the editors of the journal commented:
“The authors describe a rare but extremely embarrassing problem in women. Although vaginal air has been described with other conditions, such as enterovaginal fistula, inflammatory bowel disease, radiation therapy and pelvic malignancy, this is the first report of this problem in women with pelvic floor dysfunction. Further studies are needed to determine the true prevalence of this condition and the best modality of therapy”.
Their small study (comprising just six British women aged 21-52 years) evaluated the risk factors, investigations and treatments for vaginal wind. The women were surveyed about vaginal flatulence, prolapse, urinary, bowel and sexual symptoms. They reported that vaginally delivered childbirth was the most important risk factor for the occurrence of vaginal flatulence. All the women completed a course of pelvic floor physiotherapy. They also reported that for these women, vaginal flatulence “causes significant distress and embarrassment to sufferers”.
A very short article in 2007 by Dr. Sylvia Hsu also in the journal International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (and in part a response to the paper by Krissi and colleagues), reported a patient with severe vaginal flatulence bit had never given birth to a child vaginally. The 31-year old woman had had two caesarean sections and no prolapse. Dr. Stephen Jeffrey and his colleagues also reported in the same journal (responding to Dr. Hsu), the case of a 55-year old woman who suffered from severe vaginal flatulence and also had no obvious pelvic prolapse. They also reported that the use of cubic pessary, improved the condition.
A large-scale 2009 study by Dr. Marijke Hove published in the International Urogynecology Journal examined the prevalence, bother and risk factors of “vaginal noise” in a general population of 1,397 Dutch women (aged 45-85 years). They noted that previous research had indicated that vaginal noise (VN) is a symptom of pelvic floor (PF) dysfunction. They claimed that no other risk factors had been identified in previous studies apart from parity and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). They reported a prevalence of VN was 13% and that just under three-quarters of these women (72%) reported VN to be of little bother and was strongly related to many symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Dr. Firoozeh Veisi and colleagues have just published a (2012) paper examining vaginal flatulance and the associated risk factors in Iranian womenin the journal ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology. The authors claimed that “vaginal flatus is embarrassing to Iranian women, because it leads to their isolation from public and it is in contrast to their religious customs”. They speculated that compared to other pelvic disorders, vaginal flatulence has received less much less attention in the medical literature “perhaps due to not being uncomfortable or life threatening”. They noted:
“Vaginal flatus has been described as an uncomfortable situation with a negative impact on the quality of life of women of all ages, which not only creates social and psychological problems, but also causes impairment in religious duty practice. There have been few studies in this area and each may use a different term to describe it including vaginal wind, vaginal flatus, vaginal noise, or noisy vagina”.
The aim of their study was to determine the prevalence of vaginal flatulence in 948 Iranian women aged 18-80 years (which as far as I can ascertain is actually the first ever academic study to have examined this). One in 25 of the participants were virgins. Following a physical gynecological examination all the participants were asked questions about vaginal flatulence and the frequency and time of occurrence. One in five of the women (20%) admitted to have experienced vaginal flatulence. Just under 6% of the sample said that it was embarrassing. For those that had experienced vaginal flatulence, just under half of the sample (45%) had first experienced it after the birth of vaginally delivered child. A third of the sample (33%) said it had started spontaneously. However, some women who had had cesarean sections and a variety of pelvic operations also reported vaginal flatulence. The most common activity that resulted in vaginal flatulence was having sexual intercourse with just over a half of the sample (54%) claiming this had happened. The activity that led to the most inconvenience when it occurred was engaging in physical exercise (92%). The authors concluded that factors that were most associated with “the incidence of a noisy vagina” were vaginal childbirth, low body mass index, and young age.
Non-academically, there are numerous online forums discussing vaginal flatulence including the ehealth Forum website and a ‘Queefing 101’ guide on the Gurl.com website. (other sites have dedicated pages discussing “noisy lady parts”). Such discussions have loads of women writing about their experiences and what they believe cause it most often – sex and exercise (including yoga). The men’s forums that discuss queefing are typically more derogatory (such as the Bodybuilding.com forum website).
I have to admit that the initial idea for this blog came when I ran across the following snippets while researching my previous blogs on eproctophilia (i.e., sexual pleasure and arousal from flatulence) and ‘fartomania’ (i.e., farting addiction). Unlike all the academic and medical literature, there appears to be some women who are sexually aroused by vaginal flatulence:
- Extract 1: “I have this secret fetish. I like to prop myself onto leg press machines when there is a person opposite of me on another machine, and then force myself to expel air out of my vagina making a ‘fart’ noise. I pretend to be embarrassed but secretly I am very turned on. I enjoy the fact that a stranger has seen me in my most vulnerable states and that they have heard such an intimate burst of air come out of my secret honey hole. I have done this for the past 10 years. Most strangers pretend not to hear but I still do it in hopes that someone will come talk to me. What should I do?”
- Extract 2: “You need to start doing this in more public places, your chances of getting someone to notice will sky rocket! I go to the grocery store in shorts, with no undies. I knock things off the shelf just so I can get on all fours to pick it up. I try to induce the air up into my secret honey hole, then I stand up really slow and smile and flip my hair at the nearest person to look extra sexy”
I also came across various online articles with advice on how to facilitate vaginal flatulence. For instance, the Girls and Corpses website recommends that women should:
“Lie on your back on a comfortable surface. (A pool table will do just fine – though preferably not one in play). Next, gulp air like a goldfish out of the bowl, or, suck on a vacuum cleaner going in reverse. Next, gently press down on your diaphram with the palms of your hands. Now, squeeze your stomach muscles, like you are pooping Arnold Schwartzenneger until seat beads pop onto your forehead And, if you’re lucky, a mighty wind will expel from your inner bagpipe and blow out a candle half way across the room. Congratulations ladies – you have queefed”.
However, all my research leads me to conclude that fetishized vaginal flatulence appears to be relatively rare although there are certainly pornographic films where queefing has been eroticized (the most notable being ‘Amber the Lesbian Queefer’ starring Amber Rose and directed by Mimi Miyagi from the Philippines, and which has found itself in at least one ‘Worst Porn Movie Titles of All Time’).
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Hsu, S. (2007). Vaginal wind – A treatment option. International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 18, 703.
Jeffery, S., Franco, A. & Fynes, M. (2008). Vaginal wind – The cube pessary as a solution? International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 19, 1457.
Krissi, H., Medina, C. & Stanton, S.L. (2003). Vaginal wind – A new pelvic symptom. International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 14, 399–402.
Hove, M.C., Pool-Goudzwaard, A.L., Eijkemans, M.J., Steegers-Theunissen, R.P., Burger, C.W. & Mark E. Vierhout, M.E. (2009). Vaginal noise: prevalence, bother and risk factors in a general female population aged 45-85 years. International Urogynecology Journal, 20, 905–911.
Nation Master (2012). Queefing. Located at: http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Queefing
Veisi, F., Rezavand, N., Zangeneh, M., Malekkhosravi, S. & Mansour Rezaei, M. (2012). Vaginal flatus and the associated risk factors in Iranian women: A main research article. ISRN Obstetrics and Gynecology, doi: 10.5402/2012/802648.
Wikipedia (2012). Vaginal flatulence. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaginal_flatulence
Wise Geek (2012). What is vaginal flatulence? November 13. Located at: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-vaginal-flatulence.htm
“I’m only interested in heavy metal [music] when it’s me playing it. I suppose it’s a bit like smelling your own farts” (quote by John Entwistle, bassist with The Who)
Despite the fact that the average person breaks wind 14 times a day, farting is one of those subjects and behaviours that tend to elicit two main responses – laughter or disgust (and embarrassment if someone farts in a situation that they would rather not have). In my early teens I remember watching a drama on television in 1979 about a professional farting entertainer starring comic actor Leonard Rossiter (i.e., it was about a guy who could fart at will and who made his professional living as an entertainer). I later found out that Rossiter was playing Joseph Pujol (1857-1945), the French flatulist (i.e., professional farter sometimes referred to as ‘fartiste’ or ‘farteur’) who performed under the stage name Le Pétomane. Pujol’s stage name literally means “fartomaniac” (as it combines the French verb ‘to fart’ [péter] alongside the French word for ‘maniac’ [-mane]). Pujol was able to control his farting via a rectal ‘inhalation’ method that allowed him to control the air with his anal sphincter muscles.
In researching this article, I only came across one academic reference to ‘fartomania’. In a 2002 issue of the Journal of the History of Sexuality, Dr. Frank Proschan wrote a paper about Paul Michaut, a French physician and member of the Société d’anthropologie de Paris. Dr. Proschan recounted that Michaut had spent the late nineteenth century studying medical, erotic, and scatological matters in South East Asia. One of the topics that Michaut wrote on was “fartomania” but Proschan’s paper did not give any details as to what Michaut had uncovered on this subject.
Perhaps the most infamous ‘fartomaniac’ was Adolf Hiter. I wrote about Hitler in a previous blog on coprophilia but according to his medical reports, Hitler is believed to have suffered from “uncontrollable flatulence”. The reason for this is thought to have been Hitler’s regular and seemingly relentless diet of prescription drugs and illicit drugs. His medical records also indicated that he took up to 28 different drugs to attempt to restrain his excessive flatulence. An article in Intelligent Life magazine noted that:
“Medical historians are unanimous that Adolf was the victim of uncontrollable flatulence. Spasmodic stomach cramps, constipation and diarrhea, possibly the result of nervous tension, had been Hitler’s curse since childhood and only grew more severe as he aged. As a stressed-out dictator, the agonising digestive attacks would occur after most meals”.
In a previous blog, I wrote about the novelist James Joyce who appeared to have many sexually paraphilic interests including somnophilia and coprophilia. However, I have since come across references to Joyce’s obsession with farting in his many letters to his wife (Nora). For instance, one of his letters to Nora said:
“I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. It is a rather girlish noise not like the wet windy fart which I imagine fat wives have”.
There are also a number of reports that claim Mozart was “obsessed” with farting and scatalogia (which biographers attribute to alleged Tourette’s Syndrome), and which made many appearances in his “excrement-obsessed” letters. He even wrote a song called Lick Out My Arsehole. However, for some people, flatulence appears to be something that borders on the excessive and/or obsessive. The word ‘fartaholic’ appears in the online Urban Dictionary and is defined as “one who is addicted to farting, passing gas, breaking wind, fumigating the room, etc.”
While I was researching my previous blog on eproctophilia (i.e., individuals who derive sexual arousal and pleasure from flatulence), I came across these confessions online (click on the ‘extract’ number to go to the original source of each quote):
- Extract 1: “My name is Phil Philups. I am 105 years old, and I am addicted to smelling my own farts. It all started 40 years ago when my first grandchild was born. Whenever I changed her diaper, she would always fart. I soon realized that I love the smell. I would always offer to change her diaper, just so I could get a whiff of it. Ah, the sweet smell of gassy fumes. But eventually she grew up. I no longer had a diaper to change. As I had no more grandchildren, much to my dismay. That’s when it really started. Eventually, I realized that my own farts smell just as good. As soon as the fumes drifted up my nose, I was happy again. I would go into a closet and just let rip. I would sit there for hours, engulfing the scent…At night, I would stick my head under the covers and take in the sweet scent, so I was satisfied until morning. When I was alone, I found jars and let out my precious juices into them, so I could use them later, when I could not force myself to fart. I know this is weird, so I would like help”.
- Extract 2: “This sounds like a silly problem and some of you may laugh, but I love the smell of farts. If someone farts I have to go over and smell it, and I especially love smelling farts in the bath. I know this sounds disgusting or crude or whatever, but I think I need help. I’m the only person I know who enjoys this. I confided in my friend and she looked at me like I was psycho. Is there something wrong with me? Please help”
- Extract 3: “Is it normal to think that my fart smells really good? Every time I fart, I wait for it to get to my nose and I sniff it really hard. It smells fine for me. It only happens to my own fart. I think other people’s fart smells gross. I wait for my fart and I smell it every time! It smells good and I feel like I’m addicted to it! I couldn’t help but sniff it in”
- Extract 4: “My guy farts so much and when we are round his house he decides to fart on his cat’s head and then he sometimes does it up against the wall so it sounds louder. I’m getting scared. Sometimes he farts on me too. I don’t know how to stop him”
- Extract 5: “It’s killing me, everywhere I go if someone farts I’m right there sniffing it. How do I stop my addiction to fart sniffing?”
These short accounts did make me ask to what extent can farting be considered an addiction. In my eproctophilia blog (examining individuals who are sexually aroused by flatulence), there certainly seemed to be some evidence that some individuals seem to be obsessed with farting, and the self-confessed online admissions above (if true, and I can’t guarantee that they are) are suggestive of some people’s enjoyment of farting – beyond what most people would see as normal. However, I can’t ever imagine that the topic would become a topic of psychological research unless it leads to a negative psychosocial impact on the individual’s day-to-day life.
Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK
Gore-Langton, R. (2004). I know what made Mozart tic. Daily Telegraph, October 13. Located at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/3625399/I-know-what-made-Mozart-tic.html
The Inquisitor (2012). Adolf Hitler was a farting coke head, study finds. May 4. Located at: http://www.inquisitr.com/230386/adolf-hitler-was-a-farting-coke-head-study-finds/#pRE7dLhQKcyh9DEe.99
Intelligent Life (2007). The madman at the breakfast table: Hitler was even sicker than you thought. November 7. Located at: http://moreintelligentlife.com/node/399
Jameson, C. (2010). 6 famous geniuses you didn’t know were perverts. Cracked.com, June 1. Located at: http://www.cracked.com/article_18559_6-famous-geniuses-you-didnt-know-were-perverts.html
Proschan, F. (2002). Syphilis, Opiomania, and Pederasty: Colonial Constructions of Vietnamese (and French) Social Diseases. Journal of the History of Sexuality, 11, 610-636.
Wattpad (2012). My strange addiction (4: Gassy fumes). Located at: http://www.wattpad.com/4112339-my-strange-addiction-4-gassey-fumes
Wikipedia (2012). Le Pétomane. Located at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Pétomane