The Beginners Guide to Urethral Sounding

Medically reviewed by Dr Megan Fleming.

Written by Lucy, Lovehoney Editorial team.

Disclaimer: Our medical reviewers do actively promote or recommend any particular product or practice featured in this article.

Last updated 09.02.2021.

Stimulate nerve endings and take your pleasure to the next level with urethral play…

Perhaps you’ve asked yourself ‘What is urethral sounding?’, or perhaps you’ve heard of it before but in a medical context.

If so, it’s unsurprising as that’s exactly what it used to be. These days, however, it’s a technique being used to elicit pleasurable sensations in the penis or vagina.

Despite its medical origins, many people enjoy exploring their bodies in new ways and discovering the arousing feelings that are associated with sounding and urethral play.

At Lovehoney, we’re all about encouraging you to discover your body fully and finding out what you like and dislike. But, as always, there are safety measures to consider when trying something new.

This urethral sounding guide shows you how to use a urethral sound or penis plug as safely as possible so you can explore the pleasurable world of urethral play.

What is a Penis Plug?

A penis plug, sometimes known as a penis probe, is typically used as a tool to dilate the urethra in medical procedures. However, they can also be used for sexual pleasure.

Both penis plugs and urethral sounds enable you to explore deeper nerve endings in your urethra, providing an entirely new sensation.

“In time I was left shuddering and leaking pre-cum everywhere. The orgasm afterwards was so intense.” - Jockedandready, Lovehoney customer

Urethral sounds and penis plugs come in a huge variety of different sizes and styles, but it’s important to choose one which matches your experience level, and your desired use for it.

What’s the difference between Sounding Rods and Penis Plugs?

Although the terms are often used interchangeably - since they are both designed to be inserted into the urethra - there are some key differences between the two.

A penis plug is a short insertable toy which is designed to be placed into the first few inches of the urethra. They are usually between one and four inches long, and stimulate the tip of the penis internally.

So why do people wear penis plugs?

Wearing a penis plug can increase sensitivity, prolong erections and intensify orgasms. Lots of penis owners also wear a penis plug to achieve the appearance of a 'Prince Albert' piercing, without the need to actually get pierced.

Penis plugs come in an array of designs and styles. Some have a glans ring to help keep the penis plug in place, while others are textured for heightened sensation. Some designs feature a hole through the middle to allow the wearer to urinate and ejaculate without removal, while others are solid.

Typically much longer than a penis plug, urethral sounding rods enable you to explore even deeper nerve endings, providing a uniquely thrilling experience that can border on both pleasure and pain.

A sound is not designed for prolonged wear but can stimulate areas of the body which can be tricky to get to otherwise.

Just like penis plugs, urethral sounds come in many different sizes and styles. They can also be used by those with vaginas.

Some are extra long for internal prostate and bladder stimulation, while others intensify arousal with textures, vibrations or even electrical stimulation. Lots of men report that they've been able to experience hands-free, direct-contact prostate orgasms through urethral penetration.

It's important to do your research and choose the right size probe for your experience level. Using a toy which is too slim or rigid could pierce the urethral wall, while a toy which is too thick could over-stretch your urethra and cause tearing.

What is urethral sounding and why is sounding done?

Before we dive into how to insert a penis plug or sounding rod, let’s take a look at urethral play as a whole.

Urethral sounding is the process of dilating the urethra by inserting a plug or probe (also known as a sound). People do this because, just as the head of the penis is super-sensitive to touch, the urethra is also packed with highly-responsive nerve endings which can feel amazing when stimulated.

“It feels absolutely awesome! Using plenty of lube, either insert it horizontally while standing or let gravity do its thing while laying down. Either is an awesome sensation.” - NotAWittyNick, Lovehoney customer

Some urethral toys are designed specifically for stretched sensations, while others are long enough to reach otherwise-untouchable erogenous zones such as the prostate - it all depends on personal preference.

Is it safe to put something in your urethra?

Generally, if you perform urethral sounding properly, it is safe, but this really depends on a few factors.

Before trying sounding, it’s important you:

  1. Sterilize any toys
  2. Make sure you’re using the right size of penis plug or urethral sound for your body
  3. Have plenty of lube to hand
  4. Take it slowly

Remember, if your toy gets stuck or you become injured in any way, do seek medical attention.

In some cases, it may sting when you pee after a sounding session, but this is usually only temporary. The main risks come from using toys that are too big or too small for your penis, or being too rough once the toy is inserted.

For those with health conditions, it’s best to avoid trying urethral sounding. If you’ve got, or recently had an STI, have a history of frequent UTIs, a history of injury to the urethra, or a prostate condition, steer clear from this type of play, unless you’ve had clearance from your doctor.

How far can you stretch your urethra?

If you only dabble in urethral sounding occasionally, it is unlikely your urethra will stretch much. If you practice regularly however, and tend to graduate your play to larger sounding rods, your urethra will begin to stretch out.

This is part of the appeal for some. However, be sure to take your time in doing so, and never stretch it out further than feels comfortable. You shouldn’t feel pain while doing it.

How to use a Penis Plug or Sounding Rod

1. Choose your Sounding Rod wisely

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First things first, start with the sounding rod which fits your urethra best with minimal stretching or resistance. First-time sounders should choose a flexible, medium-sized sound.

Until you're practiced in urethral play, choosing something too rigid or too slim can increase your risk of puncturing the urethral wall.

“After researching safe, hygienic use of sounds, I lubed up and proceeded. 6mm seems like the perfect size for me, a complete newbie, and as long as I took it slow I caused myself no pain. The sensations were very pleasurable and were increased when I turned it whilst inside me.” - Onlywhenisayso, Lovehoney customer.

Using a toy that is too thick is just as risky as using one which is too slim. Listen to your body and take it slow while deciding the right size for you.

2. Keep it clean

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Always ensure that your toys are completely sterile before urethral play to avoid contracting a UTI (Urinary Tract Infection). Toys that are safe to boil (surgical steel and silicone) should be left to simmer for 10 minutes between uses.

As well as ensuring your toy is completely sanitized before play, make sure you have plenty of sterile lube handy.

“So, I boiled the kettle for my morning coffee and also put this toy in boiling water for several minutes and then let it air dry and cool.” - Ands67, Lovehoney customer.

Be sure to clean your hands and genitals before play - you may even want to use surgical gloves for ultimate cleanliness.

3. Lube up before you get down

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One of the most important things to do when it comes to urethral sounding? Don’t hold back on the lube!

We’d advise always using a sterile lubricant to further reduce your risk of getting a UTI. Add a generous squeeze of the lube to your penis opening and the first few inches of your toy.

“I was nervous about using it, but that just heightened the excitement. I sterilized it, swabbed my tip with rubbing alcohol and lubed the sound well with sterile lube (from the individual packets).” - LindaT, Lovehoney customer

Remember you should also remove and re-lube whenever necessary

4. Get comfy, and insert your Sounding Rod

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When you’re ready to begin playing, stabilize the sound with one hand, and place one end of the toy into your penis opening (you may find this easier while flaccid to begin with). If you have a vulva, it's generally easier to spread apart your labia for ease of access to your urethra.

Then, let the sound gradually "fall" into the hole with gravity's help.

“I used the single-use package of sterile lube, lubed it up and let it slide in under its own weight. I pulled it up and let it slide in on its own several times, then added some more lube and let it drop as far as it would. ” - Oldman, Lovehoney customer

The sound will reach a point where it naturally stops. Leave it for a while and allow your urethra to relax around your toy. You can now experiment with gently moving it in and out about half an inch.

For deeper exploration, you may need to change the angle of penetration due to the natural bend in your urethra. Anatomically, the opening in the glans is slightly wider than the urethra itself, so never force a toy that's too big into your urethra.

5. Take it slow and keep it safe

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When it comes to exploring urethral sounding, it's important to take things slow and steady to get used to the sensation, and to avoid damaging your urethra.

It may take some practice to find the perfect angle of play for you, so don’t rush it. If you feel a sharp pain, stop immediately.

“There's a certain mixed feeling with having your cock penetrated, but at the same time it's a pleasurable sensation that gave me tingles down into my toes. Fully recommend getting relaxed and warm and giving yourself time.” - Jockedandready, Lovehoney customer.

You may experience some burning during urination for a few hours or a day after play (especially the first few times). This is normal, but you may like to use more lube next time. If these sensations continue for more than a day, seek medical attention.

If you experience unusual discharge, heavy bleeding, fever or cramping, seek medical attention.

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