E. Winter Tashlin

An In-Depth Primer On Sounding [How's That Work]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | December 08, 2013 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: BDSM, edgeplay, fetishes, hows that work, kink, sounding, sounding play, urethra, urethral insertion, urethral sounding

Editor's Note: "How's That Work" offers readers a window into a wide array of relationship and sexual practices that they may be curious about or unfamiliar with. Topics discussed may not be applicable to everyone's erotic desires, relationship style, or body. No one should feel pressured to engage in sexual or relationship practices that make them uncomfortable.


Of all the myriad topics I teach on, not to mention play modalities I personally enjoy, urethral sounding is without a doubt the one that consistently gets the biggest reaction when I bring it up.
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As a rule, cis guys in particular fall into one of two camps when sounding is mentioned: The first group are the men who say "I've always wanted to try that," or regale me with stories of what random objects they've put down their own urethras. The second group tends to go pale, unconsciously cover their groin, or tell me that the very idea makes them actively nauseas.

For a bit of background, urethral sounding is the act of inserting a rigid object into the urethra, usually some considerable distance. Its origins are as a medical procedure, and it was primarily used in the days before modern prostate-shrinking medication, as a way to keep the urinary passage open in men with prostate enlargement.

Today it is mostly done for fun.

There are of course, a number of reasons people may enjoy sounding:

  • It's a form of penetrative play using a completely different hole than usual, and the physical sensation of a sound in the urethra can be intense and exciting. Some sounding enthusiasts compare the sensation to anal fisting, although personally I am not qualified to judge the comparison.
  • Sounding can be a real mindfuck experience. It's penetration, but in one's penis, which for many men is strongly associated with the act of penetrating. Some people enjoy the way that feels emotionally, while for others it is intensely upsetting in way that can be hard to describe. Anecdotally, guys who've done a lot of receptive docking play don't seem as freaked out by it, perhaps because they are already used to the idea of having their penises penetrated, albeit in a different way.
  • Deep sounding can be an awesome way to do prostate stimulation of a kind many won't ever have experienced.
  • For folk who like some pain in their sex, sounding can be done in a way that is erotically painful, mostly through size choices and how one stimulates the sound when it's in place.
  • Going back to the first point about penetration in a new hole, there's dominance and submission play that can be revolve around the act of one person sounding another.

So then, how to go about doing this whole thing?

First off, get an actual sound or sounding set. It's a far better idea to drop fifty to one hundred dollars on proper sounds than it is to go around the house finding thing that might fit in one's urethra. I really am quite serious on this point. For every person who emails me to rave about their homemade sounds, I have two messages telling some horror story involving a straw from a fast food restaurant or a too-sharp knitting needle.

Second off, get some sterile surgical lubricant. If you are in the United States, the best in my opinion is "SurgiLube," which it can be ordered off Amazon.com or from a local pharmacy. I buy a one gross (144 packets) box of 2oz packets for around forty dollars. There are other companies that are cheaper, but they don't tend to be as as pleasant to use.

It is of course, important to clean and rinse the sounds well after each use. I play with multiple people, so I use a hospital-grade surface disinfectant on my sounds. These days my kit has Super Sani-Cide Wipes in it, but Mada-Cide, and similar products will work. Once the sounds are disinfected, the Sani-Cide is cleaned off with Dr. Bonners or a mild dish soap to ensure that the disinfectant can't be introduced to the body in later play. I then do a quick wipe down with rubbing alcohol right before use to remove any dirt or surface contaminants.

My professional opinion is against boiling metal sounds to clean them. The majority of sounds people use are plated in a chrome or stainless plating over a base metal. Boiling can cause separation or cracking in the plating, which can cause everything from internal lacerations to an increased risk of bacterial infection. Many silicone sounds however are fine to boil.

Now on to the practical hands-on info.

In the most common sounding sets, for instance of Hagar dilators or Dittle straight sounds, there are a range of available diameters. It's best not to start out with the smallest sound in the set if at all possible. The smaller the sound diameter, the higher the risk that a screw up (especially at first) could puncture the urethral wall, which sucks about as hard as one would think.

The ideal first sound is the largest size that can be fit into the urethral with a minimum of resistance and no feeling of stretching. Keep in mind that the urinary passage in the glans of the penis, in people so equipped, is often wider than the urethra itself.

It's important to apply lubricant to the first several inches of the sound, as well as around the meatus (piss slit).

Then on someone with external anatomy: Being careful to stabilize the sound with the hand, place one end into the meatus, and carefully and gently guide it into the urethra. Use an absolute minimum of force, if any, at this point. Ideally let the sound "fall" in as far as it wants. Once it stops going in, just let it be for a bit, before experimenting with moving it in and out about 1/2 inch. At this point it may also be a good idea to take out and re-lube the sound.

On someone with internal anatomy: Stabalize the sound with one finger supporting its weight as it is guided to the meatus. Be extremely careful that the sound does not slip past the meatus and enter into the vaginal passage. If it does, the sound needs to be cleaned, dried, and re-lubricated before attempting again, or the risk of a UTI will be very high. Once the sound enters the urethra, apply gentle pressure until resistance is encountered, then pull the sound back about a quarter to a half inch. Keep in mind that the urethra on someone with internal anatomy is much shorter than on someone with external anatomy.

Once accustomed to the sensation of having something in the urethra, which can take anywhere from a few seconds, to minutes, to never, there are several options: go to a larger size, trying going a bit deeper, or begin stimulation though contact with the sound or moving the sound, more on that in a bit.

The following only applies to folks with external anatomy:

To move the sound deeper into the body, begin applying gentle force on the sound. This may be uncomfortable. People sometimes feel pressure or a burning sensation, both of which is pretty normal. What is absolutely to be avoided is any sharp pain, or the feeling that one spot hurts more, especially at the tip of the sound.

Experimentation may be necessary to find the right angle of the penis to the body for the urethral passage to be conducive to the sound going past the base of the penis. In the case of Hagar sounds in particular, which have a distinct curvature, the sound may want to rotate around its axis to continue deeper.

As a rule, for people with external anatomy entering the bladder, which you emphatically do not want to do, is not much of a concern as long the sound isn't forced once it hits resistance inside the body.

It is always possible to check how deep the sound is by feeling for the end between the legs along the perineum (taint). If the sound vanishes into a penis, especially if in the case of people who are rather well endowed, it's nothing to worry about. It can always be retrieved by finding the bottom end either at your perineum or along your shaft (depending on sound and penis lengths) and pushing up from there.

Regardless of anatomy, there's a good chance some burning with urination for a few hours or even days will occur after sounding, particularly for people who are new to it. This is normal, as is a small amount a bit of blood in the urine. Obviously, if discharge, fever, or cramping, occurs seek medical attention. Also, people who are prone to urinary tract infections may simply not be well suited for this form of play.

Once accustomed to, and comfortable with the whole idea of sounding, there are many ways to experimenting with sensation and play.

As mentioned earlier, on people with prostates, a sound can be used as a form of prostate stimulation, either on its own or in conjunction with anal penetration. To use a sound for prostate stimulation, insert the largest size comfortable past the base of the penis, so the the tip of the sound is two finger widths below the scrotum. Then gentle rock the sound back and forth about an inch towards the body and then away from it. Everyone's body is different, so it may take some experimentation to find the exact placement and preferred degree of movement.

On people with internal anatomy, gentle rocking is also sometimes found to be pleasurable. Digitally stimulating the sound through the vaginal wall, and doing digital G-spot stimulation with a sound in place are other internal-anatomy-specific forms of play.

Some people enjoy moving a sound in and out of their body in a manner not unlike penetrative sex. If trying this form of play, it's a good idea to drop down a size or two and make sure to use plenty of lube. Otherwise, abrasion of the urethra will almost certainly cause pain during urination. Use short motions, and keep the speed low and well controlled. In the case of someone with internal anatomy do not "bang" the sound up against the urinary sphincter at the end of the urethra. This is a bad idea on someone with external anatomy too, but would be highly unlike to occur.

On the subject of pain, sounding can be used as a tool for erotic pain. There are several easy and reasonably safe ways to accomplish this. The first is to stimulate or massage the sound through the urethra. This compresses the urethral between the fingers and the metal of the sound, which can range from uncomfortable to intensely painful, and can be done regardless of whether someone has internal or external anatomy. Using sounds that are uncomfortably large, or sounding someone with little or no lube are other ways sounding can be a tool for erotic pain.

Done properly, sounding is on the safer end of the spectrum of kinky play. Be safe and have fun!

img src: "Who Knows What You'll Find When You Ask Questions" by Flickr user Raymond Bryrson


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