The G-spot, named after the gynecologist Ernest Gräfenberg, is an alleged erogenous zone located a few centimeters inside the vagina on the anterior wall. Its rise to popularity is usually attributed to the 1982 book, The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality, co-authored by Beverley Whipple, a professor at Rutgers. Though the book describes how to find and stimulate this region, and sent intrepid women to try to locate theirs, it also gave the yet-to-be-classified area an almost mythical status—many have heard of it, and can generally describe what it’s supposed to do, but the majority haven’t actually seen its effects. Currently, there is no recognized part of the female anatomy labeled as the “G-spot.” In fact, researchers debate as to whether it exists at all.
The Hotly Debated G-Spot
Part of the problem stems from the general lack of research into women’s sexual health, which has hampered the ability to make anatomic generalizations. A review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2001 states “the evidence is far too weak to support the reality of the G-spot” and that “anecdotal observations and case studies based on a small number of subjects are not supported by anatomic and biochemical studies.”
Skeptics of the G-spot also contend there is no neural pathway to signify a physiologic mechanism. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2006 took 101 vagina biopsy samples from twenty-one women and found that although nerves were located regularly throughout the vagina, there is no one location that has more nerve density than others, dispelling the notion of a single erogenous zone inside the vagina.
Recent research, however, indicates variation rather than absence. A study done in 2008 by Emmanuele Jannini and colleagues at the University of L’Aquila in Italy used ultrasound to measure anatomical differences between women who report vaginal orgasms (orgasm due to stimulation of the vaginal walls and not the clitoris) and those who don’t. The researchers scanned the genital area of nine women who reported vaginal orgasms and eleven who didn’t and found that those with orgasms have thicker tissue in the “urethrovaginal space.” The authors conclude that the size of this space is correlated with the ability to have a vaginally-activated orgasm; without evidence of what they call the G-spot, women won’t have this type of orgasm.
However, critics on both sides of the debate question the results of this small study. G-spot detractors contend that this place could just be an extension of the clitoris, which was found in 1998 by Helen O’Connell to be much larger than previously thought—the part we can see externally is really just the tip of the iceberg. Because the clitoris extends all the way into the vagina, perhaps vaginal orgasms occur because they are actually stimulating the part of the clitoris, or the glands, nerves, and tissue surrounding this area.
On the other side of the debate are the G-spot believers who question why the study showed only some women to have G-spots and not all.
Prostate and Ejaculation, for Women?
Part of the confusion regarding the G-spot may also have to do with the unclear characterization of female “ejaculation” and the Skene’s glands. The Skene’s glands are paraurethral glands thought to be homologous to the male prostate, and are sometimes referred to as the female prostate.
Some researchers claim that the Skene’s glands and the G-spot work in conjunction—or perhaps are one in the same. According to the Kinsey Institute, during sexual arousal, the vagina and the Skene’s glands swell so that you can feel them in the interior of the vagina—around the same area that the G spot is supposed to be. For some women, pressure here is pleasurable; for others it is not.
Stimulation of this area in some women can cause the Skene’s glands to produce fluid, like its homologous male counterpart. In men, the prostate produces secretions, which mix with sperm to produce semen. In some women, the Skene’s glands may produce the fluid that is the source of female ejaculate. Although it comes out the urethra, the ejaculate is not urine. Biochemical analysis shows the presence of prostatic acid phosphatase and prostate specific antigen, further indicating the role of a prostate-like structure in women.
However, it is estimated that only about 10 percent of women experience ejaculation, so it is unclear how the glands function—or whether they exist in significant size—in all women. Most think they are a remnant of the embryonic stage, when we had the ability to be either sex. Males went on to have a penis and a prostate, while females developed a clitoris and in some, the Skene’s gland, or female prostate.
Just for Fun
Whether you want to refer to the anterior wall of the vagina as the G-spot, the clitoral urethrovaginal complex, or the female prostate, it is clear that some women derive pleasure from stimulating this area and some don’t. Unfortunately, anatomical differences are often interpreted, by the pharmaceutical industry and others looking to make a buck, as dysfunctions. Already there are G-spot “parties,” where women inject collagen into their vagina supposedly to make this region larger and enhance their sexual function. Drug companies are eager to find a female equivalent of blockbuster drugs like Viagra, and part of marketing a drug means creating the apparent need for it.
While exploring this area might be fun, there’s no need to get hung up on the idea that it isn’t producing explosive orgasms. In fact, studies indicate that 70 to 75 percent of women don’t orgasm through vaginal intercourse. Even those that contend every woman has a G-spot, like Beverly Whipple, aren’t trying to point to it as the crème de la crème of orgasm; rather, it seems they are trying to explain the experiences and physiology of women who do ejaculate and derive pleasure from stimulation in this region.
Long Time Coming
All the anatomical and physiology debate is ultimately good because it means more research into women’s sexual health. Scientists continue to redefine textbooks and hypotheses, trying to figure out the form and function of the female erogenous areas as accurately as possible. What they can agree on so far is that the female genitalia, like her arousal, is certainly more complex and diverse than previously thought.