Quite sheepishly, a patient asked: “how do I stop from queefing during yoga?”
Surprising few patients ask me about queefing. Maybe women don’t know what to ask, or who to ask, or perhaps there’s some embarrassment involved (but give me a break! I hear lots of weird stuff. Don’t be embarrassed to bring me your weird stuff too!). It may also be that people think “it’s just something I have to live with”.
So here’s the low down on queefing, for those stalling on asking an expert:
WHAT IS QUEEFING?
It’s passage of air from the vagina, and that creates a sound similar to passing gas. The process: air gets trapped in the vagina. When that air is expelled, it creates a vibration of the vaginal walls that sounds like a fart.
YES, BUT WHY DOES AIR GET TRAPPED?
We’re not sure. Surprisingly unsurprising, queefing has not been extensively studied by medical experts. We do know that it’s common: up to 20% of women report it happening at least once per week.
WHY IS IT CALLED QUEEFING?
The best I could do is this on a quick origin of words search:
Queef is an old English term for “puff” (as in puff of tobacco).
** Not to be confused with “quiffing” which is an old term for having sex with a prostitute.
UGH. CAN’T WE USE SOME OTHER TERM?
Some of the terms used in the medical literature include vaginal wind, vaginal noise, vaginal flatus, and my personal favorite, garrulitas vulvae (translates into “chattering vulva”).
Slang terms are vaginal fart or vart. So very clever.
But call it what you will, it’s still the same sound.
AND FINALLY, TO MY PATIENT’S QUESTION: HOW CAN I STOP IT FROM HAPPENING?
- If it happens during sex, try changing position, using more lubrication, and less in and out motion.
- If it happens during daily activities and exercises, like yoga / running / sit ups, a quick fix is to wear a tampon.
- A more comprehensive approach that can work for some women is pelvic floor physical therapy. Patients with pelvic floor disorders, like vaginal prolapse, are more likely to queef.
- Surgery for the prolapse may solve the queefing problem, but I’m certainly not advocating for anyone to have surgery for queefing alone.
Queefing is a sign of a well estrogenized vagina. Well estrogenized = healthy vaginal tissue. Estrogen helps maintain the elasticity and rugae (folds) of the vagina, which aids in air trapping and vibration of the vaginal walls with release of trapped air, or both. So there. I found the silver lining.
I am a board certified OBGYN at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles.
I am co-founder of Female Health Education, a platform offering digital courses, striving to empower females through health education.
My passion is promoting and demystifying health information to the public. My blog, Dr. Sara Twogood’s LadyParts Blog, provides comprehensive information about fertility, pregnancy, and gynecology topics. I am on the medical board for the period tracker app Flo; contribute as a medical expert for pregnancy app and website The Bump; and serve on the Byrdie Beauty and Wellness Review Board (Byrdie.com). I have been featured as an expert for the podcasts The Dream and Her body, Her Story and quoted in numerous online and print publications.
I am honored to be named “Top Doctor” in Los Angeles magazine for years.