Monday, July 26, 2010

Part 24: Urethral Sounding

This post is part of my
BDSM for Beginners
Edgeplay Series

Please don't read it if you are not
interested in learning about:
urethral play
medical play

Last year at Kinkfest, sol and I attended an excellent workshop on urethral play. Ever since then we've been wanting to experiment with this form of play, especially with sounds. A recent visit to S(A)X provide the perfect implement: a "hand made Stainless Steel Urethral Sound, made in the Sax metal workshop, only the best medical toy you have used!".

It looks like this:


Because I've not written about urethral play and sounding before I've turned this post into part of my BDSM For Beginners - Edgeplay Series. The Edgeplay posts explore more advanced forms of play. This post will address the following questions raised by readers:

  • What's urethral play?
  • Are sounds and dilators the same?
  • What are the risks?
  • Why do people do it?
  • Can women do it?
  • What's the best way to learn how to do this?
  • When it's time to try...
  • Ms160 and sol's first session
  • Where can buy sounds?
  • References and Online Resources

Some quick housekeeping re my BDSM For Beginners series:

  • These posts are usually very long (they are often based on my notes for two hour seminars). They require a pee break in the middle, unless you are a severe masochist, and at least one coffee break. You think I'm joking, don't you ... ha! Okay, cross your legs then ...
  • BDSM For Beginners' posts are not so much about my own experience as collating the experiences of other kinksters and checking out some good links for you, to further explore subjects that interest you. If you've experienced sounding and would like your experiences and any advice you'd like to share added to this post, drop me a line either via the C Box or my profile at Fetlife.



Ms160 using S(A)X's sound on sol

There is actually not a huge amount online about this form of play, and most of what you'll find is from a male perspective. Wiki gives a vanilla view, which is not very helpful for kinksters. I think KennedyRay provides a good intro to the topic, in a BDSM context:

"Urethral play is play that involves inserting objects into the urethra, and sometimes the bladder. In some cases, these scenes can be associated with people into medical scenes (playing amateur urologist hour), or in the BDSM scene, is closely associated with control and dominance. For the submissive/bottom, the psychological idea of being violated in such a manner, the inability to control bladder functions (if catheters are inserted into the bladder) along with the physiological sensitivity of the urethral lining can be quite a trip...

"In urethral play, you generally have two kinds of instruments that you can use. A sound is one type of device that comes in a variety of widths and is inserted into the shaft. Most people who are heavily into the use of sounds usually try to dilate or stretch the urethra, although there are many who get into seeing how far they can go as well. Sounds are sort of like wands usually made out of surgical stainless steel.

"Catheters are very different. A catheter is inserted into the shaft with the objective of reaching the bladder. Catheters are much longer and are usually made out of latex or plastic. Some types of catheters, like a Foley, have a small balloon that is inflated after it reaches the bladder. Once the catheter is in, the person who has it in pretty much loses control of when they can piss"
I'm not going to discuss catheter play further, today. Covering sounding will be quite enough! These days sounding is also called cock stuffing. Here's part of a detailed post from Alice of Go Ask Alice:
"Cock-stuffing, or "sounding" as it is called in the S&M community, involves inserting smooth, long, and thin surgical steel rods called "sounds" (hence the name "sounding") into a man's urethra. The two most commonly used "sounds" are the Van Buren, which has a J-shaped curve on the end, and the Dittle, which is straight. Other objects ... may do the trick, but metal sounds are recommended because they are easier to clean and have no chance of breaking when in use"
You'll find a lot of posts online from men interested in this topic, who put all sorts of items down their cock. There's an interesting Fetlife thread on how people got started here and "faux sounds" they've used here. I must say, after doing the research for this post I am STUNNED by the things men put down their dicks. Alice was replying to a man who used a glass thermometer. Other guys write about using "nicely rounded, tapering plastic pens" , "a smooth toothbrush handle" or "a long length of fishing line folded in two (fold goes in first)" ... oh and this bloke, AnythingGoes, who in his reply to KennedyRay's Urethral Play post definitely lives up to his name:
"corn kernels, pencils, pens, brushes, tools, nails, screws, bolts ( ones so fat I had to literally screw them all the way in) wires, toothbrushes, paperclips, hollow wall anchors that I then enlarge once in by putting a screw into it, tubes, hangers, sticks, plant stalks. And a plethora of other items ...

"it is very addicting. So much so that I have gone even kinkier. I have slid small fish out of fishtank into the head of my dick. I have even slid a fat earthworm almost all the way in. Made sure not to let him go. I have put moths and several different kinds of small bugs and beetles just inside also. The sensation of them moving in there is almost instant orgasm. I dream of trying a small snake at some point. Has anyone else ever done any of this?"
It's important I quote another line of this truly mad bastard, as well: "I have been lucky and never had an infection". He's not fucking wrong, lol. As Alice notes, in response to the thermometer guy:
"Just because you "don't do it often" doesn't mean you needn't do it safely each time. Leave the thermometers, with the risk of broken glass and mercury poisoning, behind and invest in a "steel" sound".
Here's ChaseUnion:
"The question of what to insert up one's own, or anyone else's, urethra is of paramount importance and might be best answered, any medical instrument or device which: (1) was made with the express purpose of urethral insertion, (2) has been "terminally" sterilized by a sterilization process which kills viruses (more about this later but suffice it to say that "boiling doesn't cut it"), and (3) slides in under its own weight or with minimal pressure. We'll elaborate on these later and even give a few exceptions, but these are the basic qualifications of any urethral insertion procedure. Knitting needles, dowel rods, chopsticks, pencils, toothbrush handles, coat hangers, and rat-tail files are all equally unsuitable."
Absolutely. And that includes wiggling wild life! I don't usually quote from vanilla blogs because I don't want to embarrass their authors, but in this case I don't think the blogger ... Keagirl of Urostream ... will mind. Here she explains what happens when you end up in the emergency room, with your foreign object gets stuck:
"As a urologist, I've had even more interesting cases where patients put things in their urethra and bladder. Naturally, I only meet these patients when the foreign objects get stuck inside. (string of pearls, sewing needles-with and without thread, small paintbrush-this particular one having been "forgotten" in the bladder for over 2 years!, mercury thermometer, pens, a McDonald's straw-I recognized the familiar red and yellow stripes- and most recently a plastic laundry line that had become knotted inside the bladder causing the embarrassing trip to the ER)

"One of my more memorable incident happened with a patient who had this compulsion to insert paper clips in his urethra and bladder. He had an X-ray done in the ER which showed 15 paper clips in his bladder. We took him to the OR, and retrieved.... 17 clips. Yup, in the short time it took us to take him from the ER to OR, the patient had managed to get hold of two additional clips and put them inside!!!
I wonder what Keagirl would think of AnythingGoes' list *grin*?

Actually Keagirl made her own views clear ("I' m not so concerned about what consenting adults do in the privacy of their own home, but I do care very much when they come into the ER and they get me involved.") but a lot of urethral players responded to her blog post anyway. And are continuing to respond, despite the age of her post. The same thing happened on KennedyRay's urethral play post - there are about 150 comments after his post, and they are still coming in, a couple of years after he posted it.

I think a lot of urethral players are desperate to find somewhere where they can write about their experiences. Posting somewhere vanilla - for example on Yahoo Questions - with queries like "is there any danger to urethral play?" and "does sounding damage the urethra?" ... obviously only resulted in freaked out vanilla responses. The best answer "chosen by voters" for the latter was:
"There is unlikely to be any problem if the urethral sound is inserted by a doctor or nurse as part of a medical examination or treatment. However you can cause serious damage to yourself by pushing anything up your own penis"
And that response is mild compared to this one, which is a definition of sounds from Urban Dictionary:
"The use of sounds in the bdsm community is both dangerous and depraved. The victim, who is male, often has sounds thrust with little care or compassion into his urethrea. Not surprisingly biological damage to the urethra and bladder is common, infection and serious injury often follow and lifetime bladder incontinence is a real risk. More serious cases involve penile cancer, bladder cancer and tumours of differing seriousness. The use of sounds is outlawed in many countries and to own a set of sounds is illegal. The internet, is often the place where sounds can be bought and they are available for sexual deviants a cost, both financially and biological"
What a nutter.

You can see from all the appalling errors in that quote why KennedyRay felt he needed to redress the balance ... and the need for accurate information ... with his Urethral Play post:
"For most people, the idea of urethral play is repulsive and dangerous, from my experience I find this to be untrue and wish to share some advice, opinions and suggestions"
He's provided not only these things but a place for urethral players to share their own experiences as well as ask questions, which are answered by others who frequently return to the post ("I didn’t know so many people were into this..thats so cool" (Michael), "Just found this great web site" (shaun), "I am glad to finally find a site like this where we can share" (AnythingGoes). So do go check his post out if you are seriously into this sort of play.

You'll find more links in the Reference and Online Resources section at the end of this post. These include Chase Union, Ltd ("Suppliers of Exotic Medical Instruments & Supplies") sounding pages and also Tom A Gordon's great article, first published on the internet in 1996 as "About Sounds", which appears with approved additions on sites like Deviant's Dictionary and MedicalToys' website. I'll be quoting these sources a lot.


What exactly is a sound? Here's ChaseUnion:
"In the "good old days" before penicillin, gonorrhea was much more difficult to cure and many times left scar tissue behind, causing "strictures" which partially or completely closed off the urethra, making urination difficult if not impossible. Some benevolent medicos (Drs. VanBuren and Dittel, to name two), seeking methods to relieve this problem, designed instruments to be inserted into the urethra to locate the stricture and literally stretch it open to allow the passage of urine. Thus was born the urethral "sound" which takes it name from the Latin subordinate, to submerge to measure the depth of.

"This is the same "sound" as used in the term "sound the depths," where the depth of a body of water is measured with a weighted line".
You'll find lots of different types of sounds listed for sale at various adult / kinky stores. They all look slightly different - some are straight, some are slightly curved, some are curved to follow the natural shape of the penis.

They are usually made out of surgical stainless steel. These days you can also buy silicone sounds and these are proving popular (more Fetlife threads about them here and here). However Dogger makes an extremely good argument for metal sounds on this Bad Dragon "sounding and stuffing" forum thread, where people were discussing soft (plastic) vs hard (metal) sounds:
"my experience and what I've mostly heard from others [regarding] sound[s], is that hard feels quite a bit better, MUCH better. It wasn't until I had an actual sounding set of pratts that I realized how good a heavy sound feels.

"You want a sound that can slide in on it's own, the reason so many people think sounding hurts when they try it is because they have to manually force the sound down their urethra. I can barley describe the incredible difference I felt having a steel rod sliding down inside as opposed to something I had to hold down to keep from pushing back up. I'm not saying something soft on the outside wouldn't feel nice too, but if it doesn't have the weight then it's not going to feel very good. Something bunching up because it's too soft to slide down is not a great feeling"
What type is best to buy? It's up to you, really, in terms of what you want to try. They all do slightly different things. As Tom Gordon points out:
"There is a curve in the male plumbing system; the curve on the Van Buren sound is designed to accommodate that curve, allowing the sound to slip down the penis and into the bladder easily. The problem is that if the bottom gets hard during the process of insertion one has to wait until the erection subsides, as the curved sound cannot be inserted (or removed!) if the penis is hard.

"It is possible to negotiate the curve with the straight Dittle sound by changing the angle of the penis during insertion, but this requires a bit more skill and sensitivity on the part of the top.
"The diameter of sounds, catheters and some other medical instruments is expressed in the French system. One French unit (Fr) is .33 millimeters (.3 mm for ease of discussion). Thus, an instrument which is 20 Fr is 20 x .3 = 6 mm in diameter (0.24").

"Most men can, without discomfort, take a much larger sound than you might imagine. That being said however, for first timers, or those who haven't done it on a regular basis, starting out with the smaller sound diameters (i.e., 16 Fr or 18fr) and work up to the larger diameters as it feels comfortable to do so. The idea, of course, is to stretch the urethra just a bit"
When you check out places that sell sounds online you usually come across information like the following, in this case from Wiki Bmezine:

"Urethral sounds come in a variety of styles, and are used in slightly different ways:

  • Dittel sounds have a flat end and a rounded end.
  • Hegar sounds have two rounded ends, are fairly short, and are mildly curved in shape. Hegar sounds are typically the least expensive sounds on the market. These sets usually consist of slightly curved double-ended sounds starting at small sizes suitable for beginners, right up to absolutely monstrous thumb-sized sounds, for those more experienced people. These sounds are the most safe and comfortable for the female anatomy.
  • Henk sounds have a more pronounced curve at the ends, as well as a metal rib on each end.
  • Pratt sounds are longer urethral dilators (double ended ones are usually almost a foot long) with rounded and slightly bent ends. Many men enjoy them for sounding.
  • Van Buren sounds have a very pronounced curve at each end, specifically for the purpose of reaching the bladder"
Now this is all good, useful information ... except for one small thing. They are misnaming commercially produced dilators as sounds.


sounds.jpg (8809 bytes)
Dittel and Van Buren Sounds

No. They are not. I'm going to quote ChaseUnion here, because they know what they are talking about:

"There is a lot of confusion about Sounds & Dilators. They are two entirely different animals for two entirely different purposes. Although Dilators may be used in some instances like sounds"

So you can use dilators for sounding? Absolutely:

"We have no objection to the use of dilators. We only want you to know what you are really buying! And their original intended use! Many advertisements (and on the Internet) speak of Sets of Sounds for sale. Usually these are Hegar Dilators. (Ask if they come in a little leatherette case. Ask if they are double ended. Ask about the shape.)

They elaborate further on another page:

"Dilators are sold singly or in sets of 8 (in a small case) and are double ended. Sounds are sold singly–almost never in sets–and are single ended. Sounds are more expensive. Beware when someone tells you they want to sell you a SET of SOUNDS"

This is exactly what Wiki Bmezine has done. You'll find an excellent page on the Chase Union, Ltd website where they go through all the different definitions with lots of photos here. It's where those quotes came from. If all this sounds a bit complicated, don't panic. The thing to remember is you don't have to buy an entire set first up. Start with a single sound, like we did, and see how much you enjoy the sensation. Speaking of which:


ChaseUnion gets it right when they write that:

"The dynamics of urethral insertion are those of invasion and control of a very private and personal area and function"

Here's Alice again:

"People enjoy using "sounds" for the pleasurable sensations felt while being inserted. They are also popular in the S&M community as a form of power exchange. Some of the curved "sounds" make getting an erection extremely difficult. If a penis starts to become erect, the person inserting the sound must wait until the erection subsides before continuing. Often sounds are locked into place so that a submissive partner cannot get an erection"
You'll find various forum threads listed at the end of this post that contain excellent posts from people who enjoy sounding. Some of the best (at the moment) are on Fetlife. ManyOohs4U wrote on Fetlife that:
"People do sounding (1) for the sexual stimulation, (2) to enlarge their urethra, which they find interesting or exciting, and some on here do it to an EXTREME extent, or (3) use it as a base for other stimulation, applying a vibrator to it, or electro-sex signals"
Being really sick rabbits I must admit that what really turned sol and I on at the workshop on sounding was discussion about the possibilities of electrical play.

"I get excellent stimulation, and since I have been working my way up the sizes ... a great euphoric feeling. I started at a fr18, and have worked up to a fr29. I also love using my sounds with my estim, now that is a great feeling"
"I like the control aspect of it. When its in nothings gonna cum out, OR if it does its gonna hurt like hell. I also like the feeling of a sound "fucking" my dick. Intense!"
Although lots of people write that they enjoy sounding, it's quite rare to get a good description of what it actually feels like. The word "intense" gets used at lot. And I'm not the only one who's noticed this. Here's Sammael describing a sounding demo:
"The word “intense” is frequently used, and when the demonstration guy was asked to describe it, that was about the only word he could come up with (it was his first time experiencing it). That, and that it felt good."
So: be warned ... it's going to be an intense experience!

What about from the "other" side? From the point of view of the other person doing the sounding, if it's not a solo scene? Well, I can tell you from experience that's "intense" as well, lol, and other tops agree. Lady Hotchkiss found her first sounds experience:
"Intensely erotic and sensual, WOW! ... a very focused, deliberate, slow, sensual experience for all 4 people involved. It was an extraordinary way to spend an afternoon"
Some people like to call sounding a form of CBT play, but I think it's a completely different ball game. Jade puts it best on this Eden Cafe thread about urethral play:
"Urethral play, play that involves catheterization and/or the use of sounds, is not meant to be S/M play. It is not used to hurt someone. There are lots and lots of places and ways to hurt someone that is safe and acceptable. A person’s urethra is not one of them. While Ms. Cynthia noted the many ways that sounds and catheters could be used in a D/s scene, in order to cause the bottom emotional and/or mental distress (especially in the case of catheters, which are often used in humiliation scenes) she stressed several times that urethral play is, sensation play, not pain play. This is play that is meant to be pleasurable, and if it is hurting, you’re doing something wrong".
I'd just like you to reread that last bit:
"urethral play is, sensation play, not pain play. This is play that is meant to be pleasurable, and if it is hurting, you’re doing something wrong".
Speaking of which:


Alice again:

"The main risks with "sounding" include tearing or cutting the urethra and infection. Anything inserted into the urethra is to be cleaned to reduce the chance of infection. Some discomfort may be felt later if the sound has stretched the urethra. If that happens, people use smaller "sounds."

"Some men also feel burning when urinating, due to irritation. If the feeling continues for an extended period of time, the urinary tract may have become infected. If this occurs, or if there is blood in the urine, the person needs to see a health care provider. For those who use sounds, being open and honest with the provider is vital, in order to discuss alternatives for avoiding infection if they plan to continue "sounding."

Tom Gordon suggests:

"A word of caution: This kind of play is not something you should engage in with someone who is inexperienced or who does not understand all the necessary precautions. Carelessness can result in infection, injury, or other traumatic problems. You should be introduced to this kind of play in the right setting by an experienced, careful person who cares enough about you to exercise all the cautions set forth herein. This document is intended to be informational, and to discourage carelessness"
So read it carefully!


Photo from SexualNature blog

Absolutely. You've already heard from Jade, above. Now here's Linda, from Fetlife's Sounding and Urethral Insertion group:

"Female urethral insertion is a lot more common than many women admit to. I asked my OB about it once and she said that the reason it feels good is because the G-Spot nerve cluster is stimulated from the inside the urethra more easily in some women.

"It is relatively safe, if you don’t put things inside that are filthy. More than one of my friends said that they have masturbated with Pens, Q-tips to makeup brush handles from time to time. One of my ex BF’s liked to finger fuck. He tried that on me once, and I thought it wasn’t as bad as I would have thought initially– although I had some residual pain afterwards, but would prolly do it again…

"It’s not for everyone, but it’s nowhere near as uncommon as you would think..

I have to agree with that. I started talking about this topic at a munch last weekend and the female sub friend sitting next to me told me this was something she really wanted to try. And why not, when women can have experiences like Jade, during a sounding workshop:
"the main feeling I experienced was one of a pleasant stretching and filling. And when she slid one of them up and down inside of me, it was an almost mind-blowing sensation of being “fucked” in a whole new way, in a whole new hole. While I didn’t orgasm during her class from the sensation, I can easily see that I could have, given a little more time ... I am very much ready to explore this kind of play further... "
Or like Luscious_Apparatus who wrote on a Fetlife thread:
"Sounding feels unlike anything I've ever experienced. Feeling the cold steel slide into the urethral opening is a little intense at first as it's not really something you're used to there, but once you relax and get used to it, it's so wonderful. I like the feeling of the larger sounds inside me and feeling that stretch. Once it is fully inserted, it's an amazing feeling. I've only had the pleasure a couple of times, but I have had an orgasm everytime from it. It feels like stimulation to the G-Spot, but even more direct so way more intense.

"The best orgasm I've had with sounding was when we attached an electro-tens pad to the sound itself. There are no words to describe how amazing it felt. It did end up making me squirt with the sound still inside me which surprised me because I didn't think it was possible. I definitely want to play and experience sounding further. It's just too yummy"
outre1 elaborates further in her post "A woman's point of view":

"For a female, the urethra and its opening are right at the intersection of the G-spot in the vagina and the base of the clit. Urethral insertion (stuffing) combined with clit and G-spot stimulation is an awesome orgasm.

"Sounding involves pulling the sound/toy in and out of the urethra. Stuffing the urethra (leaving the sound/toy in place while playing elsewhere, my definition) blocks the Skene’s glands. This builds pressure behind and alongside the clit, which makes it more sensitive. Stuffing can cut off the urine flow, if desired. Anytime anything is done to/on a full bladder, clit stimulation seems to be increased. Maybe because the clit is pushed forward/out by a full bladder? Also, some women can cum just from being sounded. I (still) need clit stim to orgasm with sounding.

"There are two muscles that can be penetrated with sounding. Each has a different sensation when sounded. The exterior sphincter lies outside of the urethra, which is followed by the urethral ‘tube’ which is about 2” long. When sounded, the exterior muscle feels a bit stingy or peppery, but feels good about 1/2” in. Some people like to just play at this spot, taking the sound or toy just in and out of this muscle. If you sound further in, the interior muscle, which is the entrance to the bladder, has a smooth, deep, luscious feeling. For me, the sensations (and idea) of being penetrated in this way are very intimate and erotic. Please note that these pain/pleasure sensations should be delicate but profound. Stop if any real pain or blood happens. Don’t force anything. Do expect some pee to accidentally find its way out...

"This is a very slow, exacting play that lends itself to d/s or med doc play because of the sterile/sanitary technique and the exacting technique of placing the sounds. Not all tops have the discipline or patience to do this. For sanitation sake, no anal activities on a sounding day, and your partner should wear a condom for intercourse (they should anyway). No play on period days or if the bottom (or top) has any infections. As a beginning player, I advise you to consult the sterile/sanitary posts found elsewhere on this website. An diagram of female (or male) urinary anatomy is also very useful and you can google for this information.

Keep in mind Tom Gordon's comment that:

"Women's sounds are shorter, for the shorter urethra, differently shaped and have their own difficulties of insertion. Women are also even more prone to infection"

Here's a Fetlife thread that shows what can go wrong when inserting something other than a sound. There's another interesting thread on how to start re female sounding here, and a Kinkiest Female Sounder on Fetlife contest here.

Also several lovely ladies on Fetlife (such as Mastersslave) have sounding photos up on their profiles that are well worth a look if you are thinking of exploring this type of play.


Sol and I attended a workshop on urethral sounding before we began this type of play and I really recommend that. Our workshop presenters were trained health practitioners and had lots of experience and practical advice. Fetlife members interested in sounding agree, MrEasy responding to a Fetlife inquiry on starting out:

"It's not rocket science and doesn't have to be carried out under laboratory conditions, though much of what you read would have you think so. That said, on those few occasions when something does go wrong, it can go really really wrong. So if it's at all possible, I'd suggest having somebody experienced take you through it, hands-on, the first time.

"That's how I learned: a bottom guy who loved being sounded showed me what to do (and injected us both with Caverject -- woohoo -- but that's another story). Reading came later, and still, the importance things are the ones he taught me"

LadyHotchKiss agrees "sounds is REALLY something that is learned best by being trained one-on-one by someone with experience". As does Tom Gordon:

"The technique cannot really be learned by reading about it. This article is intended to give you an idea of what is involved and of the pleasures which are possible. It would be best for you to attend a demonstration to actually see the procedure, and ideally to work with an experienced top to try it out, whether you are a top or a bottom"

And ChaseUnion:

"Urethral insertion in its many forms and variations would merit a rating of "TG" or "R" in the DungeonMaster rating system. Correctly done, it carries minimal risk; however a certain level of specialized knowledge and skill is required, along with a little common sense. Any person wishing to do any kind of urethral insertion for the first time should seek out someone experienced and knowledgeable in the field who is willing to act as guide and teacher. The wise beginner would first watch, taking careful note, and then practice under supervision before attempting on his own"

So before you try this type of play you need to either talk to someone who practices urethral play in your local scene or find someone who is skilled enough to present workshops on this topic. The best way to do the latter is to let your local BDSM educational event organizer know you are interested in urethral play / medical play workshops. If no-one expresses interest they won't schedule it.

Below - in no particular order - is a (mostly North American) list of BDSM presenters who have given urethral play workshops in the past. Check their websites for their current workshop program, as well as bring them to the attention of your local BDSM educational event organizer.

  • Male tops interested in sounding, note: MrEasy on Fetlife has posted that he "present[s] on [male] sounding semi-regularly. I can't say they're a major part of my play life, but somehow I got a rep as a sounding top, I guess because I like using them and I'm not afraid of them." I'm sure MrEasy would be happy to discuss the topic with you.
  • Simone Krosss presented "Medical Workshop: catheters and sounds" at Edges Dungeon in 2008 ("geared for those with curiosity about medical play as well as with a medical fetish. The workshop will focus on catheterization and sound play within medical role play and BDSM. There will be a live demo and we will discuss the risks involved with urethral insertion")
  • Domina Dea presented "Urethral Sounds 101"at DomCon Atlanta in 2009 and LA in 2010 ("this class is meant for those interested in exploring sounds but uncertain where to start. I will discuss urethral anatomy, site preparation, safety, the pros and cons of the variety of sterilization methods, explain the difference in sounds kits, do's and don'ts and basic technique for the beginner. This class is a live demo").
  • "Med Play Techniques in BDSM" at the SFCitadel, San Francisco in January 2010 included study of "the safe and potentially orgasmogenic use of urethral sounds"
  • Jesse Duran ("Southern California Leather Woman 2005") has "urethral play (catheters and sounds)" listed amongst her workshop topics.
  • The Australian workshop sol and I attended was a "Catheterisation and Urethral Sounds" workshop at Kinkfest in Melbourne ("This is a workshop designed to teach the safe way to perform female catheterisation and how to play safely with urethral sounds on men. We will discuss safety aspects of catheterisation, the different types of catheters that can be used and for what purposes. Why insert a catheter? Now it is in - what can I do with it? There will be a demonstration on female catheterisation. Supplies will be available for purchase"). As this year's Kinkfest program is currently being put together now would be the time to drop organizers a line and request a repeat session.

While waiting for your workshop you might like to do an little extra research on the subject. BDGSales has an instructional video on urethral play, but I don't know how good it and it also seems to be out of stock. Definitely check out Tom Gordon's article and Chase Union's terrific page You're going to put a what?? Up my what?? which contains lots of essential info on sounding plus anatomy diagrams that will help you work out exactly how to proceed. As they point out:

"One doesn't venture into a strange neighborhood without a road map or at least some fairly clear directions. By the same token, it is not at all wise to go poking around inside the human body in areas you can't see without some idea of the internal "geography" or anatomy"

You should also join discussion groups and forums that share urethral play interests - such as Fetlife's sounding groups (see Reference and Online Resources list below) - for more advice and stories.


You have taken the above advice about workshops on board, haven't you?

Okay, so you've done the workshop. This section of the post is to provide the experiences and advice of other kinksters as to how to proceed from here.

When the time is right, keep in mind LadyHotchKiss's advice to:

"Start slow and small. It should NOT hurt. For Me and Mine it is intimate and erotic; NOT painful, frenzied, or unfocused. Don't begin with sounds and electrical or anything else . . . start slow and build!"
My friend Ms_Neta advises "take it slowly, and have great sounding fun", which is also excellent advice.

So what do you need to assemble, before your first scene? As well as the sounds themselves, Tom Gordon suggests you will need:
  • Generous amounts of lubricant without preservatives or nonoxynol-9, which is highly irritating to the urethra. Surgi-Lube or any water based lure without preservatives, additives or nonoxynol-9 is recommended.
  • An ordinary serving tray
  • A sterile, or at least freshly washed, hand towel.
  • A small disposable syringe approx. 10 ml
  • Alcohol swabs or alcohol and cotton balls or paper tissues.
  • Latex gloves.
  • A clean washcloth and antibacterial soap.

Keeping a sterile environment is important. MasterRoy provides a timely reminder:

"I also would suggest sterilizing [your sounds] between play sessions and different partners" provides another:

"HIV and AIDS virus are basically impervious to "normal" sterilizing procedures, therefore, we highly recommend that Sounds (and Sound Sets) be used by only one person, always. So if you play with multiple partners, have your own set and don't let anyone else use it!"

Going back to the subject of lube for a moment, Wintersong advises:

"I'd like to add to the good advice from LadyHotchKiss that if/when you decide to begin experimenting with this kind of play, make the investment and buy actual sound(s) and appropriate lube. I'm a fan of Surgilube, because it is sterile and available in single use packets (and you can order it at most pharmacies)"

Here's Alice on lube:

"Sounders use lots of lube, so the "sound" can easily slide in on its own (gentle guidance may be necessary; pushing or forcing can cause tearing of the fragile tissue). If you encounter a constriction in the urethra that the "sound" will not pass through (most likely scar tissue), do not try to drive it through. More lube and a narrower sound may be more safe and successful.

"Saliva isn't generally recommended as a lubricant because it dries quickly (as you may have discovered already). Also, sugars from the mouth can be found in saliva that may cause urinary tract infections (UTIs). Sugars also can be found in some types of lube, sometimes listed as glycerin in the list of ingredients. Ultimately, a water- or silicone-based, glycerin-free lube with a thin consistency will probably work best for "sounding." Silicone-based lubes are longer lasting, but water-based lubes may have a thinner consistency. However, some people find silicone-based lubes to be a bit harder to clean up. Men find what works by experimenting"

We use sterile lube, and store it in the fridge.

LionsGate provides some great practical tips on this Fetlife thread on sounding techniques and sterile procedures:

"Be sure that you scrub and wash your hands with a mild brush using Providine-Iodine (1% available iodine). The Providine-Iodine solution is an antiseptic and microbicide. Be sure you dry your hands with a sterizled towel.

"Next, to help reduce contamination even further, there is a technique on how to get your sterilzied latex gloves on: always put your fingers on the inside of the glove and slowly struggle from the inside to pull up the glove to your wrist. Try not to touch the outside of the glove as you do this or you can contaimate the glove.

"You can probably order or buy sterilized surgical gloves (not the non-sterilized dispossible kind) at your drug store. They should sell or be able to order the Providine-Iodine for you as well.

"Never touch the sterizled sounds at all with your bare hands -- use the surgical latex gloves when you are ready to insert the sounds.

Ready to start? Tom Gordon sets the scene:

Before Beginning:

- Relax comfortably on the back on a fairly firm table or bed; being flat is better than being in a sling. If using a bed and another person is doing the insertion, position "the patient" diagonally, genitals at the very corner, legs spread and off the bed, for easy access and close proximity to the groin. Obviously, a table is easier for another person to do the insertion. If doing this alone, the bed or table will be more than adequate!

- Wash the genitals with warm water and antibacterial soap; dry gently. The objective is to remove surface bacteria.

- Spread the towel on the tray; if you have used the sterilizing technique I described above, just open the bundle. The towel in which the sounds are wrapped is ideal. DO NOT touch the sounds except by their handles or with clean latex gloves on.

- Arrange the sounds in order of size so that you do not have to fumble around one-handed later.

- Fill the syringe with KY; try to avoid getting large bubbles in the syringe.

- Put on the gloves; be careful what you touch after this point.

- Using a tissue, scrub each of the sounds with alcohol to kill any bacteria or fungi from the air or inadvertent touching.

Remember you may not get very far on your first few attempts. As you'll see in sol's and my first sounding scene below, we only inserted about a third of the sound. Because we were not planning to go more than a couple of inches sol and I did not load a syringe for our scene. If you plan to load a syringe you might like to keep LionsGate's advice in mind:

"There is only one thing that I would take as an extra precautionary step not found in Tom A. Gordon's write-up: When you use sterile KY lube, be sure to drip some of the KY lube first from the the actual tube as a way of ensuring that no contaminates are present from any previous use. Once you've done that, then add the KY lube into the luer-tip hypodermic syringe.

"I worked in a hospital for 14 years and had done many catheterizations on male patients. Dripping some KY lube first before even applying on the catheter was always an important step in the sterile technque so that there would be no bladder infection."

For how to proceed with the actual scene, let's follow sol's and my explorations...


Because sounding was something sol was really wanting to try, I decided to set the date for our first sounding scene on his birthday, while we were staying with MissDee in Sydney.

We had our wonderful sound from S(A)X. What else did we need? We were not planning on deep sounding or reaching the bladder so sterilization was not so much an issue, although cleanliness was. But we still wanted sterile lube. We'd looked for it at a couple of sex shops before buying it from the SAX store in Sydney ... and realizing you have to ask for it because it's kept in the fridge. So don't forget to ASK!!!

After we'd retired for the evening I had sol lie back on the bed, but still in a position so that he could see. I sat cross legged, next to him, and handed him the camera.

I assembled on the bed a clean hand towel, a sachet of sterile lube and the sound. In our case we had a single sound, but if you have purchased a set here's some good advice from Tom Gordon:

"Estimate what is the largest size sound which will obviously fit into the opening. You want to begin with the largest size possible because larger sounds are less 'pointy' and are more gentle as they slip in"
Even though I was not planning to insert the sound more than a couple of centimeters this first scene I'd also take ChaseUnion's advice on board:
"Examine the sound carefully before you insert it, and become completely familiar with its shape, as the location and position of the handle will allow you to know where the curve of the other end is. Using your knowledge of the shape of the sound, and your knowledge of human anatomy gained from the anatomical cross-section included with this article, the sound can be gently guided into place until it rests comfortably in position"
I heavily lubed the bottom half of the sound and especially the tip area, as well as around sol's urethra. I didn't use a syringe because this was our first attempt at sounding and I was not planning to go past a couple of inches. When you are planning to go further, keep Tom Gordon's advice in mind:
"Place the tip of the KY-filled syringe near the opening of the penis; put a small blob of KY right at the opening to lubricate the passage of the syringe into the tip of the penis. Hold the cock loosely, and gently place the tip of the syringe in the opening of the cock; squeeze in a generous amount of KY (if this were toothpaste, you'd be injecting about 25mm/1"). Keep the syringe in place for a moment while you gently stroke the cock to prevent the KY from shooting out. Some people feel a bit of discomfort at this point, a slight burning at the tip of the cock. This is caused by a difference between the acid/alkaline balance of the lubricant (which is manufactured for 'average' people) and that of the tissues of the bottom. This sensation will pass within a minute and is nothing to worry about"

I picked up the sound with my left hand:

I'm left handed and I'd read that you needed to use the hand over which you have maximum control. I 200% agree with this, having now used a sound. I held the sound just under the ball / weight at the top. This is what felt most comfortable to me. It also allowed me to manipulate the sound easily with my fingers. I held his cock straight up and steady with my other hand.

I positioned the sound above sol's urethra ... I gently ran the tip around it and into it, gently forcing more lube down his urethra. I then straightened the sound again, positioned the tip above the hole and then gently inserted the sound's tip.

Yes, I know I keep repeating the word "gently". But that's how you do it!!

We'd been advised to just let the sound drop / move down under it's weight and this worked. Tom Gordon advises:

"Never push a sound in. Gravity is the only force used. Your job is merely to guide the sound and to prevent it from dropping in too suddenly; this is especially true until you have some experience with the technique"

I was concentrating very hard because you need to keep an eye on several things. You are not only working to keep the sound vertical but sort of working in two dimensions at the bottom. That might sound a bit weird but you'll know what I mean when you try it. You are trying to work the tip both forwards and backwards and also left and right. The latter was easy from my point of view looking straight at sol's urethra, but forwards and back was harder and I needed sol's input to make sure the sound stayed on target. You absolutely HAVE to get it right, as ChaseUnion confirms:

"Once any sound is in place, it must be supported carefully either by the person inserted it or the person in whom it is inserted. Sounds are quite heavy and more weight is outside the opening in the muscle wall mentioned above than is inside. With the muscle wall serving as a fulcrum, the sound can literally fall over and could possibly cause internal damage"

I was not planning to go very deep but I looked forward to what we could do with a completed inserted sound at a future time when I had more experience:

"Once in place, very gentle and limited movement can be very erotic. Tapping the handle of the sound with a metal object or using s small vibrator, can drive them wild. The sound can also be used as an electrical contact if one is experienced in electro-torture. Some bottoms become orgasmic at even the thought of connecting a Relax-Acizor (or other electro-stimulator) between a VanBuren sound and an appropriate metal butt-plug, placing the shortest route for an electrical current directly across the prostate."

Here's another person's sounding experience, from a tribe thread:

"when inserting the sound this should be done SLOWLY, lay on your back hold the penis in a upward direction start with the smallest sound, use lots of medical surgi lube start the sound into the head ,,with a LOOSE GRIP on the sound allow it to enter on it's own,, it will slide into the urethra by it self (due toi it's own weight) to about 3-4 inches,, for me at about this point because of the curved ends on mine,, my Owner has to "GENTLY" turn the sound one way or the other to follow the urethra tube,sometimes aiming the penis down help's in this,, when it makes this turn holding the penis up it will slide in some more on it's own (from it's own wieght) this usally takes it to a point of about 6-7 inches inside me,,, from then on my Owner "GENTLY" "EVER SO GENTLY" pushes it the rest of the way in with Her hand constantly watching me (for discomfort) and listening to my comunication from how i feel and if She should turn it or what ever i may need to get it further"
I was not planning to go nearly as far as that. But it's always good to read about what might happen on your next attempt.

I can't really tell how much time passed because of my level of concentration, but to maintain that level of concentration I'd not advise a dominant to plan a scene of 10 - 15 minutes for first time.

I let the sound drop millimeter by millimeter:

Sol asked me to come out completely once, after we began to run out of lube and it became uncomfortable. This gave me good feedback - an indication of how far I could go with lube simply pushed in via the sound. A syringe of lube would obviously allow deeper penetration but for a first time I was happy just to learn as much as I could.

All this made me wonder: can you come, during this sort of play? Turns out there is a bit of controversy about orgasm and ejaculation with a foreign object inserted in the urethra. ChaseUnion discusses the issue on their page "to cum or not to cum":
"Many people have done it a number of times with no apparent adverse results. In fact, they swear by the experience. This writer, however prefers to take a more conservative approach. When one looks at the forces exerted at the time of ejaculation - enough to force semen two feet into the air - and considers the effect of those forces exerted against a blocked channel, along with the effect of sphincter muscles trying to contract against a non-fluid object, and the muscle contractions meant to force fluid through a channel now being exerted against a solid object, one wonders what kind of back-pressures are created and what potential for damage exists.

"No one, including this writer can cite concrete data or cases. Remember, if you walk across a busy street often enough without looking both ways, eventually you're going to get run over by a truck. This falls into the area of personal decision and acceptable risk levels. Each person must make up his own mind as to his own acceptable level of risk-taking"
Tom Gordon agrees:
"bottoms often feel a strong urge to masturbate when a sound has been inserted. This must be avoided because of the likelihood of injury. Bottoms often want the top to be more vigorous in insertion. This is a time when the top needs to be responsible and in control, and do only what is good for the bottom. The insertion of sounds produces such unusual and erotic feelings for some people that they need a good top to control their behavior"
So ... okay ... no coming, then!

Eventually I gently withdrew the sound. You can see how far we inserted the sound by where the lube stops:

Sol wanted to continue but I decided enough for first scene ... also my left hand was starting to shake with effort. Not good when you are trying to insert something with complete control a millimeter at a time!

I asked sol how it felt when the sound came out:
"slight sort of after glow, like a mild burning ... that doesn't quite convey it ... mildly warm I guess ... does burn a bit next time you pee but very very slightly"

I remember reading in Tom Gordon's article that "one bottom told me that the removal felt like "an orgasm in slow motion."

I allowed sol to masturbate himself, using the lube already there, while I pinched his nipples, and then allowed him to come. After all it was his birthday. Was it a good orgasm?

"absolutely ... there was a little bit of burning but not particularly unpleasant"

When we proceed further we'll keep Tom Gordon's instructions in mind:
"When the sound has entered about an inch more than the length of the penis, change the angle of the penis: slowly lower it toward the testicles to form approximately a 45 degree angle; gradually raise it again. This will negotiate the curve in the plumbing and the sound will drop into the bladder. Guide the sound with gentle manipulation of the handle; don't push!

"Remove the sound slowly... You can move it in and out slowly if the bottom enjoys the sensation. The larger sizes of sound will tend to drop in more readily because of their greater weight.

"Inject a bit more KY as before, and go on to the next larger size. Continue in this manner, going to larger sizes until the bottom feels discomfort; use plenty of lube. Most often, discomfort due to the size of the sound will be felt as slight burning at the tip of the cock. You can tell that you have reached the bottom's optimal size when the skin at the tip of the cock begins to stick to the sound during insertion and removal, even though well lubricated; the tissue forms a slight funnel-shape as the sound is moved. Going to a larger size after this will actually stretch the urethra (It will shrink back to its original size unless this treatment is done three or four times).

"When you have removed the largest sound you intend to use, gently milk the bottom's cock to remove some of the KY. Prepare the sounds to be cleaned and sterilized before subsequent use.
I had been looking forward to talking to sol about what sounding feels like. I mentioned above how lots of people give great quotes about why they do sounding but no one says how it feels. But interestingly I encountered the same verbal block with sol. It seems sounding is simply a very difficult sensation to describe. Sol ended up calling it "a unique sensation".

Does it hurt?

"nooo .... it hurts if you push the wrong angle ... this is why the angle is crucial and you can't go sideways [Ms160: this relates to my trying to describe the working in two dimensions] "

I tried again to ask him to describe how it feels:

"it feels very sensitive ... it's a very delicate sensation ... it isn't intensely pleasurable ... more subtle ... some people say about power exchange, to me it does require a kind of surrender and letting go to do it ... sort of in the same way you need a certain mindset to allow someone to lick your eye ball, you have to will yourself to allow it, even though it's nice"

This reminded me of something Tom Gordon had mentioned:

"You will discover that the bottom experiences great pleasure when the sound is inserted to a certain depth. The top should gently manipulate the sound at that point; the sound is probably stimulating the prostate gland intensely, and in a way not possible through any other sexual technique.

"Most bottoms enjoy seeing the insertion, especially the sound vanishing into the penis by its own weight. Many bottoms have expressed amazement to me that such a large object could go so far in without pain. They feel a sense of complete submission of their most intimate orifice and a voluntary vulnerability beyond any previous experience"
I asked sol whether he wanted to do it again:
"absolutely ... enthusiastically ... frequently ... lol ... please..."
That's a yes then...

The second time we played we did go in a little deeper, and we'll keep working on that and keep blog readers advised. ... and says sol, combine it with a TENS until when we get one...



You can either buy sounds in sets or individually. Remember Chase Union's advice:

"Dilators are sold singly or in sets of 8 (in a small case) and are double ended. Sounds are sold singly–almost never in sets–and are single ended"

The sound we use is hand made at S(A)X, "hand made Stainless Steel Urethral Sound, made in the Sax metal workshop, only the best medical toy you have used!". You can purchase it here, if you'd like to try it. I certainly recommend it. We've had a lot of fun with it ... and we've only just begun.

If you'd like to peruse full sets check out this link.

Another aspect of sounds that you might like to explore is jewelry that incorporate sounds, such as cock wands, plugs and wedges. One we've always wanted to try is the Prince Albert's Wand, which is:

"in its simplest form, is a urethral sound held in place by a PA piercing (although any urethral piercing - ampallang, PA, or apadravya - can hold them). Its purpose is urethral stimulation. Most people wear them only for play, but some people wear them all the time"
Another interesting design is the pound puppy:
a short prince's wand that requires an ampallang piercing and two off-centre PA piercings... Resulting in a piece of custom jewelry that looks somewhat like a little pound puppy plush toy"
I've also seen urethral vibrators for sale:

I think that is the next toy we'll buy from S(A)X *grin*.

There are also toys like the "Zeus Electrosex Urethral Sound" around. Mistress Satet sells them, the blurb reads:
"The electrical urethral sounds takes [urethral play] one step further. Split into two poles, it runs a current from one end to the other through the penis of the user for an incredible experience"

It's a toy to work towards, we definitely don't have the experience yet!

But you can see what I mean, about the potential of urethral play toys . They all sound like fun ... if you'll excuse the pun :)

REFERENCES AND ONLINE RESOURCES: - article with links to images of urethral sounds

Chase Union:

Go Ask Alice!: "Cock-stuffing"

Kennedy Ray - Urethral play

Tom A Gordon - Sounds series (republished on several sites including

Savage Love - "Playing Doctor" October 18, 2001

Wiki Urethral Sounds

Fetlife's sounding groups have threads on how to proceed and good links etc:
Bad Dragon - Forum:
BDSM weblog:
Tribes threads:
Sin Central:
Sounding #1

"Ty" being fucked in her urethra

Video which includes female urethral catheterization


Hardy Haberman, Fetish Diva Midori.
The Family Jewels: A Guide to Male Genital Play and Torment.
Greenery Press, 2001. ISBN 189015934

Thank you's:
Sincere thanks to Steve Sax for providing the fabulous implement
that's guiding our sounding explorations!
And also:
To all the wonderful urethral players I've quoted who've
shared their sounding experiences and advice online

Sound and
urethral vibrator
- S(A)X
Zeus Electrosex Urethral Sound
- MistressSatet's Online Store

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