It’s part of the less pleasant side of being human. It’s the need to emit digestive gases that sounds and smells equally unbecoming–particularly in front of someone you are trying to impress, like a potential lover.

Ashley, a 24-year-old journalist, had to do that. During a recent sleepover with a new guy, instead of reveling in post-coital bliss, she focused her energy on keeping the flatulence on lockdown. This isn’t a new phenomenon for her: multiple times over the course of the last few years, she’s experienced intense gas pains following sex with select new partners. The upside is the feeling usually subsides after a few sexual encounters.

The Gas-X she occasionally carries in her bag came in handy, but the urge to pass gas was too strong—she didn’t feel the medication’s effects. Finally, before the pair settled in to watch a movie, Ashley excused herself to another room to relieve the intestinal tension. She didn’t want to offend her new squeeze with an offensive odor or resonant sound. “All day I was dying of pain and had to fart but I was like, ‘No, I can’t. It’s too soon,’” she says. “That was yesterday and I’m still feeling the effects.”

Rather than shell out money for expensive ultrasounds or other treatments, Ashley took to the internet, where she found a bevy of forums discussing the very thing she’d been experiencing. The responses hardly provided any clarity: “Haha I’ve farted on his balls a few times. I tell him ‘I’m not feeling good!’ but he goes for the sex anyway, as soon as he gets on top of me and he puts pressure on my stomach, i fart right on his balls, he laughs it off and then keeps going,” read one comment.

“It’s very common for that to happen during sex,” says Dr. Roshini Raj, a board certified gastroenterologist and internist, associate professor of medicine at NYU School of Medicine, and an attending physician at NYU Langone Medical Center. “Intercourse specifically can put pressure on the rectum. During orgasm, the muscles in that area relax.” Just as doctors recommend physical activity to aid constipation, Raj says the same thing can happen with flatulence from sex, especially if there’s some deep thrusting or you’re frequently changing positions. Anal penetration can introduce gas into the body as well—and what comes in must come out.

“Thrusting into the body can provoke the colon to release gas, as can the abdominal work required to sustain some sex positions,” says sexologist Dr. Timaree Schmit. “The important thing is not to stress it. Bodies are weird and funny and as long as it doesn’t accompany any pain, it’s not really a cause for concern.”

Still, we aren’t as liberal with our farts around our new partners, making the added gas more than physically uncomfortable. It’s totally dependent on individual comfort levels, but a survey conducted by Mic found that people wait between two and six months to openly pass gas in front of a new partner. Redditors on a 2014 thread sharing their experiences breaking the fart barrier with a new partner noted waiting anywhere from a few hours to six months of dating.

A 23-year-old bank teller says she waited three weeks before letting it go in front of her now-fiance. The first time they were intimate, she had to ask her girlfriend to stop out of fear that she’d rip one during sex. “Then like three weeks into our relationship she was already living with me and I was like, ‘Babe, I need you to fart,’” the woman says. “She was so confused and I was like,‘ I need you to fart so I can fart. I can’t keep holding these in.’” The good news is there are no health repercussions from holding it in. Raj explains that other than a little bit of discomfort, clenching your bum isn’t necessarily bad. And no, your intestines won’t explode. Though she does advise not making the stifling of flatulence a regular thing since you’ll be putting unnecessary pressure on the muscles in that area.

If you know you’re a particularly fart-inclined person and want to curtail the urge to pass gas in front of a new partner, it’s best to get in front of the issue by monitoring what you’re eating before getting ready to bump and grind. Avoiding foods in the cabbage family, like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and Brussels sprouts, as well as fatty meals can help minimize gas, too. Of course, none of this is mandatory. “I don’t care enough to do that,” Ashley says about monitoring her pre-date meals. “I’m going to eat what I want.”

An unsettled stomach can also be attributed to nerves. Hannah, a 24-year-old writer’s bodily reaction to anxiety and nervousness is nausea, which she alleviates through burping and farting. She once took eight trips to the bathroom on a date in order to pass gas. Sometimes she’ll even be too nervous to eat on a date. “I remember one time I slept with this girl I thought was totally out of my league,” Hannah says, “and I really wanted to sleep over but I told her I had to work the next day because I couldn’t stop farting and was nervous I might fart in my sleep.”

The anxiety in our brains can directly affect what’s going on in our gut, Raj says. Both the stomach and brain contain some of the same neurotransmitters with the former even able to send signals to the brain. This is why we tend to feel butterflies in our stomachs when we’re nervous, but for some people that sensation can be much stronger. “When they’re anxious about anything they’ll immediately feel it in their stomach,” Raj says. “In fact, we call the gut the second brain because the same kind of chemicals are dependent on mood and stress. That’s why some people, especially with IBS, they get stressed out and get severe diarrhea, ” he continues.

Despite all the biological reasons why humans feel gassy, talking about farts and sex are still taboo topics. Combining the two makes it particularly embarrassing when broaching the topic of sexytime gas, which may lead some people to think they’re alone in this, hence the aforementioned online forums. The truth is, Schmit says, is that most people are still embarrassed to discuss what goes on below the belt, even if it is something as common as flatulence after intimacy. “People have a hard time talking honestly about sex and digestive issues both: we’re told to feel shame about basic biological functions and the things that make us human,” she says. “It can make folks feel very vulnerable to share about these things, they fear being considered gross or weird, giving out that kind of information.”

Ashley isn’t turned off by the idea of passing gas around a guy, but still went into a recent hangout with her new dude a little stressed: She was nervous she’d feel gassy after sex again. They slept together three times, she says, and only felt the familiar tension in her gut after the third time.

“I’ll consider this a success.”