Urethral sounding: risks, safety, precautions

Urethral sounding is a form of sex play that involves inserting a thin sex toy, called a sound, into the urethra. In medical practice, this tube drains urine out of the bladder. Proponents of this sexual practice claim that it can help increase sexual pleasure and sexual satisfaction.

Originally, the practice of urethral sounding began as a medical procedure to help clear obstructions in the urethra or to help dilate or widen the urethra after a stricture. However, people began to perform this act for sexual gratification, using a fluid or a glass or metal object.

Although some people may derive pleasure from urethral sounding, it can lead to sexual health complications and serious damage to the urethra. Since it is highly likely that people will need medical attention for later problems, many urologists strongly recommend avoiding this sexual act.

In this article, we discuss urethral sounding in more detail, including why people do it, the benefits and risks, and how to perform it safely.

the urethra is a thin tube that is primarily responsible for transporting urine from the bladder to an external opening in the genitals. Its anatomy varies slightly between males and females. In women, the urethra is about 1.5 inches (in) in length. In males it is much longer at around 7 to 8 inches and it also helps in transporting semen.

medically, a ring refers to an instrument that a medical professional places through a narrow passage, such as the urethra. They usually do this while a person is under anesthesia. Outside of this area, it can describe the sexual practice of placing a soft or rigid object into the urethra through the opening, called the urethral meatus. It can also refer to the injection of fluid along the canal for sexual excitement and pleasure.

Some people may use other terms to describe this sex act, such as urethral play, catheter fetish, or cock stuffing. Some may also call the sounds other names, such as candles. Sounds are available in a variety of sizes, shapes and configurations to meet various requirements.

People can practice recreational urethral sounding for sexual or erotic purposes. Rarely, urology clinics encounter cases of retained foreign bodies, the primary cause being auto-erotic stimulation or sexual curiosity. Proponents suggest the act is stimulating and can provide sexual pleasure, as the urethra is in a sensitive area and some consider the act a taboo.

In men, the urethra passes through the prostate. If a person is able to insert a urethral sound deep enough, they may be able to stimulate the prostate, which some call the P-spot. In female anatomy, evidence indicates that the urethra passes through the genital walls, which are dense in nerves. Some experts also consider the G-spot to be an excitable zone running the full length of the urethra.

As such, due to the sensitive placement of the urethra, some people may be able to get sexual stimulation and pleasure from the act of sounding.

Urethral sounding itself offers no specific health benefits and does pose some health risks. However, promoters perform the act because of the potential sexual pleasure they may receive. A study 2021 notes that sexual activity can be beneficial for psychological health, and a study 2016 adds that sexual satisfaction can help improve quality of life.

A person may experience the following benefits from attempting a urethral catheterization:

  • exploration of their body and different sensations
  • a different sexual experience
  • stronger and longer orgasms
  • deeper intimacy and trust with a partner

However, it should be noted that this sexual activity can damage the urethra. Ideally, only a healthcare professional should perform catheterization for health purposes in a safe and controlled environment.

Urethral sounding can be a safe practice if a person performs it correctly. However, most urologists advise that only experts should perform the procedure and that it should only be used as a medical procedure.

Proper sterilization before and after a catheterization session is essential to reduce the risk of infections. Knowing the appropriate size of the sound or object and starting slowly and gently can also help prevent discomfort when making the sound.

A older study points out that recreational urethral sounding is associated with certain sexual behaviors – such as having multiple partners and unfamiliar partners – and may increase the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Additionally, the Urology Care Foundation notes that side effects of urethral dilation can include bleeding and urinary tract infections (UTIs). Other sources point to the risks of urethral trauma and erection problems.

Another potential probing risk involves the object getting lost or getting stuck, potentially necessitating surgery to remove the foreign body. This could put the person at risk of infection, injury or trauma. Foreign bodies in the urethra can cause a person to experience:

  • pelvic pain
  • obstruction
  • hematuria, which is blood in the urine
  • dysuria, which is painful urination
  • changes in urinary frequency

Many urologists will point out that the risks associated with this act far outweigh the pleasure a person may experience. As such, they do not recommend people perform urethral sounding. Additionally, they advise anyone who is trying to plumb to seek medical attention to address any health complications they are likely to encounter.

Most health experts advise against trying urethral sounding. However, those who insist on trying it can minimize the risks by taking the following steps.

Preperation

  • It is essential to clean and sterilize urethral catheters in boiling water or betadine solution before use.
  • A person should wash their hands and genitals thoroughly with mild, unscented soap. They may also use surgical gloves for additional protection.
  • The person must choose a comfortable position, which can be sitting, standing or lying down.
  • It is advisable to apply a lubricating gel to the genitals and sound.
  • People with penises should insert sound when the penis is flaccid, as it can be uncomfortable and difficult to apply sound to a fully erect penis. For people with a vulva, opening the labia can provide better access to the urethral opening.

Insertion

  • A person should try to relax before carefully and slowly inserting the lubricated sound. They can insert sound by using one hand to open the urethral hole and the other to gently guide the sound inside.
  • It is essential not to force the sound if there is pressure or resistance.
  • If there is pressure or resistance, or if the sound is not as deep as a person would like, they may switch to a smaller sound. They can also gently remove the sound and add extra lubricant to it as well as the genital area.

Experimentation and exploration

Once the sound is inside, a person can explore what they find most stimulating. This may involve gently moving the sound inward and outward in small increments or changing the angle of penetration. However, if a person experiences significant pain or resistance, they should stop. People can also try massaging the genitals, using a vibrator, or having a partner hum on the end of the device. The hum introduces vibrations, which can further increase the pleasure.

Deletion

  • A person should remove the sound gently and slowly, using lubricant if necessary to avoid discomfort and pain. People with a penis are advised to wait until it is flaccid before removing the sound.
  • It is best to urinate immediately to flush out any lubricants or bacteria in the urethra. Although it may sting a little due to irritation of the urethral wall, this discomfort is often temporary.
  • Washing the bran, hands, and genital area thoroughly is important to prevent infections. A person should also sterilize the bran and store it properly to avoid contamination.

Some frequently asked questions about urethral sounding may include:

Does it stretch the urethra?

Potential stretches will depend on a person’s practice. Occasional sounding will not stretch the urethra. However, performing regular sounding and increasing the sound size can lead to stretching of the urethra.

Does it affect urination?

Probing safely reduces the risk of it having long-term effects on urination. However, a person will likely feel irritation and tingling when urinating after a catheterization session. It is important to note that even if a person performs the procedure safely, they still run the risk of potential scarring and damage to the urethra.

Who shouldn’t try it?

Urologists advise against urethral sounding outside of medical practice. However, people at increased risk of potentially serious complications should take extra precautions to avoid this practice. These people include those with a history of urethral injury, frequent UTIs, or any conditions affecting the prostate, such as prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia.

What if the sound freezes?

People should try to relax the genital muscles and apply more lube. If the sound is still blocked, they should immediately go to the emergency room and be honest with the medical team to receive prompt treatment.

Does the male and female urethra sound the same?

The process of urethral sounding for men and women is the same, although it may feel different. As the female urethra is shorter, it can only accommodate smaller sounds.

Urethral sounding is a form of sex play that involves placing foreign objects inside the urethra. Originally a medical procedure to dilate the urethra, proponents report that sounding can improve pleasure and sexual satisfaction.

However, it is important to be aware of the many risks involved in the law. Most urologists strongly advise against catheterization due to the high risk of damage to the urethra and other health complications.

Performing the practice safely with sterile and appropriate sounds can help avoid potential problems, such as urinary tract complications. However, most health experts point out that it is a risky act that should not take place outside of medical practice.


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Susan W. Lloyd