You just queefed, nbd. While you've probs experienced this kind of "vagina fart" before (and btw, probs will again), you might not know what a queef actually is. Since this definitely wasn't covered in your sex ed class, it's time to set the record straight.
What exactly is a queef?
"We don’t devote any education to this in residency, but I tell patients it’s a very normal thing," says Mary Jane Minkin, MD, clinical professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at Yale Medical School. "It’s different from expelling gas from your rectum, which happens because of bacterial activity in the gut."
Instead, queefing is the result of a trapped pocket of air getting pushed out of your vagina. FYI: The vagina isn’t a straight tube, says Dr. Minkin. It has wrinkle-like folds called "rugae," so air could easily get trapped in there.
Should you be worried?
Not at all. "Queefing is of zero health consequence," explains Dr. Minkin. Slightly related, she does caution against blowing into a pregnant woman’s vagina because the air can get into her pelvic veins and create the risk of an air embolism. "You know how people get nervous when there’s an air bubble in an IV?" she explains. "It’s the same concern: What if the air gets into the vein and travels to the heart or lungs or fetus?" That sounds pretty scary, but Dr. Minkin says the worry is more theoretical than practical. (Still, good to know—just in case.)
When does queefing happen?
It often occurs during sex, because a penis (or other penetrating object) is going in and out of the vagina, which can displace the air inside of it. "It can happen during any position and is usually fairly quick," says Dr. Minkin.
Of course, that also just so happens to be the last time you'd want to rip one. A queef can also slip out during exercise, like when you’re getting into downward dog or knocking out the last set of crunches.
Can you queef while you’re masturbating?
Queefing is so not limited to sexual intercourse—anything that causes air to get caught in your vaginal canal, including a vibrator or other sex toy, can be a culprit, says Stephanie Ros, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynaecology and maternal-fetal medicine at the University of South Florida. "This is all about a tunnel that has no other opening," she says. "If air gets trapped because of movement [no matter what causes it], it has to get out."
Do some people just queef more?
Just like some gals seem to get all the UTIs (ugh), some women’s vaginas are just graced with a greater queef-ability (add that to your vocab). That can change with time and experiences, too. For instance, you can become more queef-inclined after childbirth or massive weight loss, says Dr. Ros. "When people lose a ton of weight, and they have a lot of sagging skin, the same thing can happen in the tissues of the vagina."
Are you more likely to queef in certain sex positions?
Doggy-style fans, you’ve been warned: You're more likely to queef in positions where your pelvis is tilted upward, says Dr. Ros. But the same goes for many, many other positions. If you’re in missionary but your butt is lifted off the bed (or floor, or couch, or beach…), for example, "that would be more likely to cause air entry and, with further movement, the air comes back out and, sometimes, it makes a noise," she says.
How should you handle it during sex?
And that's exactly what you should do when—not if—it happens to you. Since there’s no mysterious secret to avoiding a queef, you might as well embrace 'em. "Just joke about it and keep going. These things happen!" concurs Dr. Minkin. Remember, it’s a natural bodily function—laugh it off and get back to business.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.