In our Hit Me Up series, resident agony aunt Rhona McAuliffe offers advice to a reader who is feeling a little gassy.
Basically, I can’t enjoy sex because I always feel like I’m about to fart. I’ll do anything to avoid penetration as whatever way I’m anatomically built, penetration seems to trigger my need to expel gas.
This has almost definitely prevented me from getting serious with anyone as I’m just too embarrassed to talk about it and instead just avoid sex completely. It’s only happened – where I’ve actually farted – a couple of times ever but it’s enough to put me off.
I’ve talked to my doctor about it and she reckons it’s become a mental rather than a physical barrier for me, which could be true but I just don’t know how to get past it. I’m with someone now who I’d really like to keep seeing, but the no sex thing is becoming suspicious as I don’t have any legitimate reasons not to sleep with him.
He knows I’m not religious/ saving myself so is starting to ask if something else is up. I’m prepared to give therapy a go to get over it but wondered if you’d ever heard of this and what I can do? It’s not the easiest thing to bring up in conversation with friends!
As with any potential medical issues, I’m going to lead with the customary disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I’m pretty sure we all know that but just throwing it back out there for the refresh. I have however very much enjoyed researching possible causes and solutions, having just emerged from a Reddit caving expedition where groups have a lot to say on ‘fart sex.’ More on that later.
I’m sorry to hear that the fear of farting has so deeply impacted your carnal career to date. The fact that you can’t enjoy sex is a big issue and will have likely negatively affected your past relationships, not least because you’re holding out and not being honest with your partners. I also completely understand why you haven’t been able to talk about it. We are pretty basic beings after all and just the word ‘fart’ triggers our seven-year-old selves.
The good news is, if you never felt comfortable enough with any previous partners to gingerly broach the issue, chances are they were not worth the anguish. Although you’ve missed out on intimacy and the freedom to sleep with whomever you want, maybe the fear of flatulence has been a natural decent-bloke-diviner? It’s not much comfort – especially as you are not part of a Ring of Purity collective – but it’s something.
So, what to do? There seems to be a lot of possible contributing factors. Is it plausible firstly, that you may have a retroverted or tilted uterus? This is where your uterus tilts back towards your digestive tract and rectum rather than standing upwards. It would mean that penetration might be painful, you might experience pain in your back during intercourse and your uterus may put more pressure on your bowel, meaning gas may be trapped in the process.
The size and shape of a partner is something that comes up a lot in these discussions, so a particularly large or curved penis may be more problematic for you especially if you have a retroverted uterus.
Once you do some basic research on this and discern if there are enough symptom commonalities for you to explore it further, it might be worth making an appointment with a gynaecologist to put your mind at rest. Your doctor may have to refer you so no harm sharing your findings with her. They always love a good old Google diagnosis!
If your uterus is tilted, fear not. It very rarely leads to serious health issues so it would be just about managing your discomfort while you’re menstruating, during pregnancy, if that’s ever on the cards, and while you’re having sex, potentially.
Which leads us nicely on to sexual positions. Certain body locks and thrust angles are more conducive to gas trapping. For example, doggy style’s a killer. More commonly associated with vaginal queefs, repetitive thumping against your coccyx will only rouse the beast. Other positions to avoid are reverse cow-girl, for obvious reasons and throwing your legs over his shoulders so that they are pressed back against your chest. That carries a red alert for ‘likelihood to pass gas’ but gets bonus points for the fact that he won’t hear or smell it. Calculated risk is the buzz term we should be working to here but always remember that you can break off mid romp and run to the loo to let rip if you need to!
In terms of timing sex, ideally you’d be having sex before breakfast, lunch or dinner, when your digestive tract is relatively clear, and not afterwards, while you’re still actively digesting a meal. It’s also worth addressing any possible issues with your gut. Are you an unusually gassy person generally? Is it possible you have a food sensitivity or intolerance? Dairy is the biggest gas culprit, as is gluten.
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, sprouts and cabbage are difficult for our bodies to process, generally upping the wind factor. Perhaps you could avoid these in the short-term, pre-sex? If you suspect any connections here, you should also mention this to your doctor who can refer you to a nutritionist for skin prick testing and/ or advice.
There’s also a nifty little yoga sequence here - that you can try to clear the pipes pre-show. And there’s always the option of just embracing the beautiful, natural, smelly, sweaty mess that is sex!
If you follow some of the above advice and still get the urge to fart, just go with it. Laugh it off and use it as an opportunity to open up the conversation with your partner. It may be that once you start having regular penetrative sex, the stress of the situation will alleviate and your system will naturally relax.
If things don’t work out with your guy, know that there is a fairly tight but active fart fetishist community, which I have only just discovered! Despite one of the sites only having 46 members – where the first three members curiously look like different snaps of the same person – they are all about finding a girl to just ‘belt one out.’
Searching #fartfetish on Twitter will also open your eyes to the world of Eproctophilia.
Let’s just call it your back-up plan for now.
Read more: 'My low sex drive means my husband is threatening to 'find it elsewhere''
Read more: Should I be honest about my previous sexual partners?
Read more: The greatest loves of your life don’t always come in the shape of a husband