Seventy-eight years ago last month, German gynecologist Ernest Grafenberg published a paper describing an “erotic zone” on the front wall of the vagina that, when stimulated, can lead to intense orgasms, sometimes accompanied by ejaculation. In the 1980s, this area was formally dubbed the G-spot in honor of Grafenberg’s discovery. Since then, the concept of the G-spot has really taken off in popular culture.
The G-spot has become so well known that most people take for granted that it’s a distinct part of female genital anatomy. This includes many physicians, some of whom are even offering G-spot amplification procedures like the so-called “G-spot shot,” which they claim can make stimulation of this area even more pleasurable.
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Among sex researchers, however, the concept of the G-spot has been a raging controversy for decades. They can’t seem to agree on whether it even exists, let alone whether it can be amplified. Some scientists have argued that the G-spot is indeed a thing, claiming to have found physical proof. By contrast, others have argued that the accumulated evidence is, at best, inconclusive. In light of this, some researchers have referred to the G-spot as a “gynecological UFO,” by which they mean there have been many sightings, but its existence is not yet confirmed.
A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine aimed to put this controversy to rest by providing one of the most thorough anatomic explorations of the G-spot to date. Their conclusions suggest that we may need to start thinking differently about what the G-spot really is.
In this study, a team of researchers and physicians performed dissections of the front wall of the vagina (the area where the G-spot is thought to exist) in 13 female cadavers. I know you might be thinking that 13 doesn’t sound like that many, but this is actually one of the largest post-mortem studies to date in this area and it’s a huge improvement over previous studies of the G-spot that made bold claims based on dissection of a single cadaver.
I’ll spare you the specifics (and photos) of the dissection process (check out the full article if you want all the gory details), but what they basically did was perform a painstaking search for a structure in the genital region that corresponds to the G-spot. What they found was that, across all 13 cadavers, there was no evidence of any such anatomic structure, at least not one that was visible to the naked eye.
So does this mean that we should abandon the concept of the G-spot altogether? Not necessarily. While it’s true that the researchers leading this study didn’t see a structure consistent with the G-spot, a microscopic analysis of the tissues in that area is needed to confirm its absence. In other words, the next step would be a follow-up study to rule out the possibility that the G-spot can only be seen under high magnification.
While we await those results, this study would seem to give credibility to an alternative theory of the G-spot, which is that—rather than being a distinct part of female anatomy—the G-spot may simply represent the area where the internal portion of the clitoris, the urethra, and the vagina all come together. And when all three of these structures are stimulated at once, perhaps this is what produces the intense orgasms (and sometimes, ejaculation) that have long been associated with the so-called G-spot.
Proponents of this theory have suggested that the G-spot is therefore better characterized as the clitourethrovaginal complex. While that term may very well be more accurate, it obviously doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely as G-spot, does it?
With all of that said, the fact that we’re still debating whether the G-spot does or doesn’t exist 78 years after it was first proposed is a sign that female genital anatomy hasn’t received nearly enough scientific attention. Here’s to hoping “gynecological UFO” is a term we can soon abandon once and for all in the field of sex research.
Justin Lehmiller is a research fellow at The Kinsey Institute and creator of the blog Sex and Psychology. His forthcoming book is Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life. Follow him on Twitter @JustinLehmiller.
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