Is it just me, or is the media obsessed with the G-spot lately? Everywhere I look, I seem to find articles citing this study or that study, claiming the G-spot is an irrefutable part of female anatomy or claiming its just a bunch of hooey.
While I recently covered male bits in my piece on testicular cancer (see link in list below), I feel like a bit of balance (on the female anatomy side of things) is in order. As a scientist who regularly reads about controversial or conflicting research findings, here is my take on the G-spot debate.
The term G-spot (in yellow on the diagram above, taken from newscientist.com) was coined in 1950, to describe the Skene’s glands on the inner top wall of a woman’s vagina, an area anatomically similar to the man’s prostate gland. Like in males, this gland in women is thought to produce ejaculate and to be highly sensitive to arousal – in fact, the G-spot contains an extension of the clitoral anatomy. The G-spot is found in the urethrovaginal space of the vagina, which is rich in blood vessels, glands, muscle fibres, nerves, and for some women the Skene’s glands.
In 2002 a group of Italian researchers set out to find a biochemical marker for the elusive and controversial G-spot. They found that the enzyme PDE5, which degrades the chemical signals that trigger erections for example (and is blocked by Viagra), is highly clustered in the G-spot. However, not all females appear to have the same levels of PDE5 in this area, and women with lower PDE5 in the G-spot area also appear to lack the Skene’s glands. This finding may explain why some women have difficulty obtaining a vaginal orgasm, and may also explain why Viagra is a successful stimulant for many women.
Later in 2008, the same Italian group conducted research using ultrasound imaging to connect their PDE5 findings earlier in the decade with the ability or inability for a woman to reach a vaginally stimulated orgasm. Their studies found that women who are able to reach a vaginal orgasm have thicker tissue in the vaginal space where a G-spot would be. This study also suggests that there is not a simple dichotomy of women with or without a G-spot. In fact, there may be a spectrum of G-spot size and sensitivity, leaving some women better able to utilize this sensitive spot in their sexual play.
Psychiatrists, and neuroscientists studying the brain’s role as a sex organ, may suggest that ‘practice makes perfect’ when it comes to successful orgasms, including those utilizing the G-spot.
Recent headlines claiming the G-spot does not exist, and has been a myth all along, stem from a 2009 study in the UK utilizing a large sample size (which the earlier Italian studies lack) and a questionnaire. Most scientists and doctors specializing in female sexual health would immediately scrutinize this finding given the nature of the data collection – physiological and biochemical data to suggest the presence of a G-spot is a highly preferable form of data versus a personal opinion. Because as we all know, not all women are exploratory or aware of their own sexual physiology, and not everyone is (knowingly or not) honest in a questionnaire. Tomes have been written on the value of a well-conducted questionnaire study in research – but not all scientific questions can be addressed in this manner. Taken with the proverbial grain of salt, in this UK study, 56% of women report experiencing a G-spot, but there was no higher link between identical twins (usually the hallmark of a biological finding).
In fact, Beverly Whipple, a researcher at Rutgers who has found G-spots in large cohorts of women through her studies and has helped to popularize the 1950’s term, finds the UK study to be highly flawed. So, as with many topics in science today, the debate continues…but for now the evidence seems to be tilted toward the physiological presence of a G-spot in most women.
Aliquot enjoys a good science discussion. For this post, please share, rate, comment or send a message. Much appreciated!
Aliquot’s post on testicular cancer:
Sexual Science by New Scientist:
Coverage of the UK study:
Update: The brain as sex organ:
Dec 2011 update:
Finally, about 18mo later, I have read Mary Roach's book: Bonk: the Curious Coupling of Science and Sex. May I suggest this to everyone who has an interest in this topic. While Roach is not a scientist, nor a science writer, she does a very competent (and entertaining) job of researching the topic and conveying the research findings. Definitely a page-turner worth paging through!