Vaginal Flatulence - Queefing -The “Female Fart”Oct 15, 2021
By: Katie Burnham, DPT
What is it really? When is it more likely to happen? Can you control it?
Vaginal flatulence is a term for excess air passing through the vagina. It can make a noise when we least expect it and be the source of embarrassment for some, depending on the situation. It is definitely a normal occurrence though. The difference between the vaginal and anal “fart” is that the gas from an anal fart is coming from within the body and works itself out. Conversely, vaginal flatulence is a result of air getting trapped in the vagina or getting pulled in from outside the body.
Now that we know a bit more about what it is, let’s discuss when it is more likely to happen. Reports of common occurrences include sexual activity or any time something is being inserted into the vagina. Exercises and stretches involving the hips, as well as inversions (getting upside down ie. downward dog in yoga) and even high impact activities (jumping).
There are various ways air can enter the vagina, however some people may be more prone to “queefing” than others. If we know more about the pelvis and pelvic floor muscles we can also have a better understanding of this! The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscle, fascial tissue and ligaments that support the organs within the body. Everyone’s pelvis is unique. So someone may have a strong pelvic floor, or a weak one, have lots of tightness and lacks flexibility, even have lots of length and laxity. The point is, for these examples you can see how not everyone will experience vaginal flatulence in the same way or frequency.
A study from 2020 actually looked at whether there was a connection between vaginal flatulence and pelvic floor functional anatomy1. They determined, after analyzing results from 570 women, there is indeed an association! The conditions which may promote a higher likelihood include: women who have had a vaginal birth, those with vaginal prolapse, presence of anal incontinence, higher resting tone in the deep layer of the pelvic floor and even younger aged women. So what does this mean? Well, younger women may have more tone, or muscle tightness and strength when compared to older women (think of hormonal changes with age). Higher resting tone also indicates more of the same, tightness or shortened pelvic floor muscles. On the other hand, if you’ve had a vaginal birth, have a prolapse or incontinence you may also have low tone to the pelvic floor muscles. Now, if you search the internet you will see advice to do more Kegel exercises to prevent vaginal flatulence or even do more stretches for the hips and pelvis. There is a problem with this advice however! How do you know what kind of a pelvic floor you have? You may have tight muscles in a shortened position but be weak. You could have good flexibility but weakness in these muscles. For a muscle to be healthy and function properly it must be able to work through a full range of motion! It must length fully and shorten. The rules apply to those within the pelvis as well. The challenge however is that we can’t see these muscle function and move so easily since they are inside the body…that is where a pelvic physical therapist comes in handy!
So the next time you are in a downward dog and you feel air enter your vagina, you probably aren’t the only one! The structure of your pelvic floor including length and tension of those muscles are unique to you and your pelvis. My advice, don’t be shy when it happens! Just go with the flow (pun intended). If you think there is something more going on however, seek out a pelvic PT.
1. Neels Hedwig, Pacquee Stefaan, Shek Ka-Lai, Gillor Moshe, Caudwell-Hall Jessica, Dietz Hans Peter. Is vaginal flatus related to pelvic floor functional anatomy? Int Urogynecol J. 2020 Dec; 31 (12):2551-2555.
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