Is urethral sounding ready to go mainstream?

Is urethral sounding ready to go mainstream?

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After more than a decade of Real Housewives, The Bachelor and America’s Next [fill-in-the-blank] competitions, the chances of watching a truly real reality TV moment have become few and far between. 

Perhaps it’s a sign of how far we’ve come, or just how far we’ve fallen, but reality feels more formulaic than ever—with each viral fist fight, table flip, and drunken meltdown more reductive than the last.

Yet on occasion when an interesting moment does come through, it can refreshingly remind us that people are often more complicated and sexier than how they present themselves through screens. Such a moment reared its horny head this year during season 2 of Netflix’s The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, when a contestant casually mentioned urethral sounding.

Per the show, 24-year-old James Morris has been dating his high school sweetheart Ryann McCracken for more than seven years. With no plans to propose, the couple turned to reality TV to dig deeper into James’ marriage hangups with other longtime, unwed couples.

During an interview about his sex life, James wondered aloud whether his grandmother would be watching.

“Your grandmother had sex,” producers assured him. To which James answered, “Sure, but she probably doesn’t know what a sounding rod is.”

The quip was brief, but James unwittingly cracked the door open for a conversation about sexual kinks, and the very real people who enjoy them. Corn-fed built and South Carolina-born, James doesn’t fit the profile of someone you’d imagine to be kinky.

Or does he?

When confronted about his sexual proclivities in front of the Ultimatum cast, James promptly tried to downplay the discussion. But if a fringe fetish like urethral sounding has found its way to a Gen Z man from the South, maybe the kink isn’t so fringe anymore? 

If you’ve ever had a cocktail from a penis straw, then you’ve seen urethral sounding. Like fisting and other forms of medical level fetishes, it’s a kink that can be performed by men and women.

For men, a metal rod (or sound) is inserted through the tip of the penis and shuffled down the urethra to stimulate the prostate with vibration. But many people’s pleasure derives from as it goes through the prostatic urethra, explains L.A.-based urologist Dr. Joshua Gonzalez, who identifies as gay.

“The urethra is continuous with the prostate, it goes through the prostate, and so the prostate is obviously a very sort of homogeneous organ,” he explains. “People derive a lot of pleasure from prostate stimulation in other ways. Whether that be through the perineum, by sort of pressing hard on the perineum, or through direct stimulation of the prostate through the rectal wall.” 

As for why someone would prefer to stimulate the prostate through the penis over the peach, “I think that’s better answered by people who practice sounding,” says Gonzalez.

Portugal-born Bruno Duarte appeared as a deckhand in season 5 of Bravo’s Below Deck and used that time in the limelight to launch his gay adult film career as Lobo Carreira. He certainly isn’t the first reality TV star to slide into porn, but fans might be surprised to find on his JustForFans page that he loves urethral sounding. According to him, he started a few years ago. 

“I think it just came natural to me, as well as fisting,” Duarte disclosed to Queerty via email. I had no idea exactly what I could do or if it was even something safe to explore to begin with, but after I searched I got to know a lot of important rules.”

The way Duarte describes it, the sensation of urethral sounding is “insane.” 

“Always, you feel kind of (like a) virgin everytime you sound,” he says. And though he definitely recommends others try it if they are interested. “Make sure you know what you are doing,” he says. “Urethra is a very sensitive area and if you do wrong it can give more pain then pleasure.”

Luckily for the sexually curious, TikTok’s SexTok offers conversational primers from sex-influencers like the POZRN, Brian Thomas, who identifies as gay.

Around three years ago, Thomas says he started posting on TikTok to shed light on his nursing school experiences, raise awareness and decrease stigma around HIV-positive health care workers. His insights have garnered him an audience of more than 90K followers.

“I did a lot of content on sexual health and HIV; a lot of comedy about just being a nurse,” says Thomas. “And then you’re there, and people want to know what your life is,” he explains. For him that included sharing his leather fetish, interest in BDSM rope rigging, restraint, and urethral sounding.  

“It was natural that the content that I made was also going to include that,” he says. “With my nursing background, I started to develop a way of talking about kinks with risks and benefits. And people seemed to be really into that, and I am all about harm reduction and sexual health.”

Thomas describes urethral sounding as the “pleasurable act of using an appliance to access your prostate from inside your urethra.” But he says when he first saw it, “it just looked painful.” 

“Even though the person doing it was experiencing such pleasure, it just looked pretty gruesome,” he says. “You’re taking this big metal rod and putting it in a hole where it doesn’t’ seem like it can go all the way in that hole.”

But after getting sober and enrolling in nursing school, he found he had a knack for learning. “I really enjoy that kind of self education, learning,and kinks like this require that,” says Thomas. “So I took it upon myself to start learning that, and then I started shoving stuff down my urethra.”

As for what sound enthusiasts get out of it, “Psychologically, I would say that there is a rush when you’re doing something that is definitely taboo. Or is definitely considered dangerous. And with that there is a psychological rush that I believe some people do experience.” 

But such with any rush comes a risk. The most common risk being trauma to the urethra, explains Dr. Gonzalez.

“The urethra is kind of a long tube that’s made of mucosal tissue, which is pretty delicate,” he explains. “As you are advancing the sound into the urethra, it doesn’t take a lot to traumatize the urethral lining. And if you traumatize the lining, as it heals, sometimes it can cause scarring that can in the future cause issues with urination, issues with ejaculation, and make it more difficult to empty your bladder.” 

In fact, sound rounds started as medical devices used to break open penile narrowing, or strictures.

“But when we use them in a medical setting they are often used sterilely. They come wrapped in sterile packages,” says Gonzalez. “And when people are using these at home, I assume that many of them are not opening sterile packages and using sterile sounds. And therefore you could introduce bacteria into your urinary tract, which could lead to an infection.” 

He says he has seen patients develop strictures from prior sounding. But in an extreme case of risk, around six months ago, Gonzalez says a patient needed to be admitted to the ER after losing a sound in his urethra.  

“His sound did not have any sort of wide point to it that would stop it if it went inside his urethra,” Gonzalez explains. “And so his actually migrated into the urethra to a point where he couldn’t get it out. It couldn’t be fetched out using any sort of basic device. We actually had to take him to the operating room and cut it out.” 

When it comes to any toy play, the rule of thumb is to not lose your grip. Be sure your toys have a base, says Gonzalez.

“That way if they do lose grip of it, because they are using lubrication or whatever, it doesn’t get sucked up in there to a point where they can’t get it out,” he says. “And the same is true for sounding.”

Also active on TikTok, Gonzalez uses his channel to walk his audience of more than 200K followers through myths and misunderstandings about LGBTQ+ health topics, intimately covering everything from anal sex to female orgasms. Any topic people might be too afraid or uncomfortable to ask their doctors, says Gonzalez.

“People are often thankful for the content that we provide them and will sometimes request very specific topics that they are interested in learning about,” he says. Being open and honest about the sexual kinks you want to explore is the first step to building a community support system that can help you safely explore. 

“I would say go slow,” says Gonzalez. “Don’t rush into something. Especially if it involves sticking a foreign object inside your body.”

He continues, “Use lubrication if you’re sticking something in any kind of hole in your body. And probably talk to someone who has some experience with that sexual activity. Maybe that’s your partner or a group online that has similar interests.” 

And if he has learned one thing about sexual kinks as a urologist, it’s that “people are going to do what they are going to do,” explains Gonzalez. 

“The guy that I was just talking about who we had to take to the operating room and perform surgery to remove this sound, when I saw him in the office several weeks later, one of the first questions he asked me was when he could resume sounding,” says Gonzalez, “which to me sounded wild because you literally just had a surgery because of this practice. We are not even sure that you are fully healed yet. But this is something that he really enjoyed and so I am pretty certain that he is just going to resume doing it.” 

He adds, “I just hope that the next time he does follow the advice that I gave him so it doesn’t happen where he ends up on the operating table.” 

In the end, perhaps it was Anthony Bourdain who said it best: “Your body is not a temple. It’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”


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