Sounding in the BDSM or Medical Sexual Play is inserting a finely tooled metal rod into the urethra for sexual pleasure. Back in the day, a few years ago, I was shocked that this is a sexual thing. My partner was very keen to try such a thing. But recourses being limited, seriously where does one go to learn how to do this or where the heck do you buy the equipment. Well funny story, for another blog, I asked my doctor. So began my learning into medical play.
So why are they called SOUNDS?
This is the part where we dive into history. Yes, sounds have been around for a very long time. So what’s the deal with the name. Would it surprise you to know that Sounding is a nautical term? It was a WTF moment for me. What do boats and medical equipment have in common. Turns out its just the name.
“A sounding line or lead line is a length of thin rope with a plummet, generally of lead, at its end. Regardless of the actual composition of the plummet, it is still called a "lead." Leads were swung, or cast, by a leadsman, usually standing in the chains of a ship, up against the shrouds.
Measuring the depth of water by lead and line dates back to ancient civilisation. Greek and Roman navigators are known to have used sounding leads, some of which have been uncovered by archaeologists. Sounding by lead and line continued throughout the medieval and early modern periods. The Bible describes lead and line sounding in Acts, whilst the Bayeux Tapestry documents the use of a sounding lead during King Harold’s landing in Normandy. Throughout this period, lead and line sounding operated alongside sounding poles, particularly when navigating in shallower waters and on rivers.
At sea, in order to avoid repeatedly hauling in and measuring the wet line by stretching it out with one's arms, it became traditional to tie marks at intervals along the line. These marks were made of leather, calico, serge and other materials, and so shaped and attached that it was possible to "read" them by eye during the day or by feel at night. The marks were at every second or third fathom, in a traditional order: at 2, 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 15, 17, and 20 fathoms. The "leadsman" called out the depth as he read it off the line. If the depth was at a mark he would call "by the mark" followed by the number, if the depth was between two marks, he would call "by the deep" followed by the estimated number.
Soundings were also taken to establish position, a navigation function then, rather than for safety alone. Soundings of this type were usually taken using tallow coated leads with a wad of tallow in a concavity at the bottom of the plummet. The tallow would bring up part of the bottom sediment (sand, pebbles, clay, shells) and allow the ship's officers to better estimate their position by providing information useful for pilotage and anchoring. If the plummet came up clean, it meant the bottom was rock. Nautical charts now provide information about the seabed materials at particular locations.”
We have since evolved to use mechanical means of finding depth and its called Echo Sounding. History is so fascinating.
So why was a medical device invented with the nautical name being implied?
This again falls to history and the amazing medical conditions we now call STIs ( sexually transmitted infections). There was a time in history where doctors took a guess at the cause of a disease. However, they knew all too well the symptoms and the outcome. It was a time in medicine where medical doctors were more reactive than preventative.
In the case of sounds, Gonorrhoea or the Clap, is the STI to blame for this little marvel of medical technology. Now we have to get into the nitty gritty of medicine back before it should have been called so. Gonorrhoea if caught early back then could be treated with a series of urethra flushes with some chemicals that should never have been allowed in the body, such as mercury. Lucky fellow, the one who had to experience that. Most people didn’t detect symptoms of the STI until it was too well in bloom. Some of the symptoms include itchy redness, rash, fluid discharge, painful urination. This was before major treatment options, such as penicillin. Left to resolve it’s self, if you made it, the complications were the deciding factor, you were faced with a minimal urine flow or not being able to urinate at all. This was the direct result of a ring of scar tissue that would form around the urethra closing or pinching off the flow of urine. The strictures ( type of scar tissue ) can be absolved by breaking it apart.
Until Dr. VanBuren and Dr. Dittle met the challenge of designing a medical instrument to absolve the strictures it all was a bit of quackery in the cure for Gonorrhoea. My dive into the realms of history came up with two different inventers mere moments on the time line of history apart as the inventor so I am giving credit to both. However, Dr. VanBuren’s naming of the “sounds” somewhat have stuck. His sounds were not only used to treat the strictures but also to measure the depth of the blockage as his device was designed to also pass into the bladder from the urethra.
Sounds Versus Dilators…. Aren’t they the same?
There is a vast difference between true sounds and dilators. Its not by use in any means but in the design. Sounds are longer, much more then dilators. Sounds also have and hand hold or groove in one end and the insertable end is smooth. There is also only one measurement per sound.
Dilators on the other hand, are much shorter and are double ended tools. There slight curves also give them away.
Oui Oui..mon French!
“Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière (March 19, 1803 – April 28, 1876) was a Swiss-born French manufacturer of surgical instruments.
Charrière was born in Cerniat, in the Canton of Fribourg, Switzerland. He moved to Paris at age 13, and was apprenticed to a manufacturer of knives. In 1820 he founded a company manufacturing surgical instruments, which quickly grew to 400 employees by around 1840, and was world-famous by his death. He became a naturalized French citizen in 1843.
He developed and improved a number of instruments, especially hypodermic needles and catheters; the French catheter scale is named after his work. Several of his apprentices also became well-known instrument makers, including Georges-Guillaume-Amatus Lüer, Louis-Joseph Mathieu, and Adolphe Collin in Paris; Josef Leiter in Vienna; and Camillus Nyrop in Copenhagen.
He was inducted into the Legion of Honour in 1851, and died in 1876 in Paris.”
“The French scale or French gauge system is commonly used to measure the size of a catheter. It is most often abbreviated as Fr, but can often be seen abbreviated as Fg, Ga, FR or F. It may also be abbreviated as CH or Ch (for Charrière, its inventor).
The French size is three times the diameter in millimetres. A round catheter of 1 French has an external diameter of 1⁄3 mm, and therefore the diameter of a round catheter in millimetres can be determined by dividing the French size by 3:
D (mm) = Fr / 3
Fr = D (mm) * 3
For example, if the French size is 9, the diameter is 3 mm.
From the basic math equation C = πd, it follows that the catheter circumference in mm is only slightly (about 4.7%) greater than the French size.
An increasing French size corresponds to a larger external diameter. This is contrary to needle-gauge size, where an increasing gauge corresponds to a smaller diameter needle.
The French size is a measure of the external diameter of a catheter (not internal drainage channel). So, for example, if a two-way catheter of 20 Fr is compared to a 20 Fr three-way catheter, they both have the same external diameter but the two-way catheter will have a larger drainage channel than the three-way. Three-way catheters accommodate an extra channel for irrigation within a similar external diameter.
The French gauge was devised by Joseph-Frédéric-Benoît Charrière, a 19th-century Parisian maker of surgical instruments, who defined the "diameter times 3" relationship.”
Oh so many kinds, how do I choose?
Its defining feature is the pronounced hook on the end. This set was not only designed to absolve strictures but measure the depth of the occurrence within the body. This is a very advanced set that is designed to go further into the body, past the urethra, pubic bone and into the bladder. VanBuren’s must be used in a flaccid state as once inserted, if an erection happens, the sound will be locked in place. Measures 18 Fr to 32 Fr
The major feature to Pratt’s are the weight. They are solid rather then hollow. Pratts have a distinct bend in the end. Not quite a soft curve but not as distinct as the hook of the VanBuren’s. This is a great set for beginners and can also accommodate female sounding being a double ended set. Measures 13/15 Fr to 41/43 Fr
Bakes Sounds ( Nickname Rosebuds)
Bakes sounds are yet again distinctive as the have a flared end that almost resembles a bullet. A key feature is the flexible rod and that you can warm and cool on the flared end. The Bakes Sounds are actually meant for gull bladder procedures and are a very advanced set that should be used with caution. As these sounds were never intended for catheter type penetrations they do don’t have the standard Fr measurement.
Medically this set is designed as a to dilate the vagina after radiation or reconstruction to allow the muscles to relax. It is like most dilators, double ended and shorter. Hegar Dilators have the slightest s curve to them and are the safest set to use for sexual play. Measures 3Fr to 18Fr
Now that your head is swimming in knowledge you can make an informed decision on weather or not sounding is for you. A look back in history is very enlightening.