The truth about the "G-spot": Why it's time to put this sex myth to bed

New research suggests that our ideas about orgasms are missing the mark

Published September 16, 2014 4:12PM (EDT)

       (<a href=''>conrado</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(conrado via Shutterstock)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.


Take a collective sigh of relief, humanity. If you’ve been one of the countless people searching in vain for the elusive Gräfenburg spot (aka the G-spot) or wondering why you aren’t gushing like Old Faithful each time someone makes a “come hither” motion in your vagina, then search and wonder no more. Once lauded as a “magic button” and the ultimate female pleasure enhancer, an Italian scientist’s recent report claims once and for all that the controversial G-spot is nothing but a myth (with a really good PR campaign). The study -- published in the journal Nature Reviews Urology by Emmanuele Jannini, Professor of Endocrinology and Medical Sexology at Tor Vergata University of Rome, Italy -- found that, essentially, the G-spot is just a sensitive area that’s part of the larger pleasure center that includes the vagina, clitoris, and urethra, or as the study sexily put it, the “clitourethrovaginal (CUV) complex.”

The G-spot’s rise to sexual stardom started in the 1950s with German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg, who claimed that he discovered (Christopher Columbus style) an area on the upper side of the vaginal wall that, when touched in the right way, led to orgasm and sometimes ejaculation. Since then, countless books and articles have been written on the G, including how to find it, how to “master” it, and how to orgasm from it.

Of course, it has been documented that women can and do experience heightened sensitivity when the upper vaginal wall is stimulated, so it’s not like science is outright snubbing the walnut-sized spot. Rather, the study points out that female pleasure and orgasm are more all-encompassing than previously thought, and that sensitivity exists simultaneously throughout the CUV and not just in one tiny area. Or, if you prefer your sexual science served with a Facebook analogy, “It’s complicated.”

The “intimate area” that allows women to experience a heightened sexual pleasure includes the complete reproductive system, the study notes -- including tissues, muscles, glands, and even the uterus. "Compared to the male erogenous zones, it is much more variable and complex, and also varies from woman to woman depending on the hormonal cycle,” Jannini told The Local, Italy’s English-written news site.

Jannini’s study is by no means the first to claim the G-spot’s pleasure capabilities have been overblown. In 2012, a study by urology resident Dr. Amichai Kilchevsky published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found no conclusive evidence of the G-spot’s existence. Kilchevsky looked at 96 published studies from the past 60 years, concluding that science couldn’t definitively find the G. "Without a doubt, a discrete anatomic entity called the G-spot does not exist," Kilchevsky said. But he also notes that women who experience heightened pleasure around the G-spot area aren’t crazy or making it up. Indeed, biopsies of vaginal wall tissue have shown that in some women, there are more nerve endings in the purported G-spot than in surrounding areas, but even those studies are inconclusive. "What they're likely experiencing is a continuation of the clitoris," he said, adding that nerve endings alone do not an orgasm make (otherwise far more people would be studying the virtues of the perineum, aka the loner at your body’s prom).

What about the G-spot’s role in vaginal orgasms? A 2008 study (also by Jannini, who, like the CUV, clearly gets around) exploring the vaginal wall found that a woman’s ability to have vaginal orgasms resulted from thicker tissue between the vagina and urethra, and not the concentrated G-spot area. The study noted that women with thinner vaginal wall tissue could not orgasm vaginally, disappointing their parents yet again.

The vaginal orgasm as the “one true orgasm” is a theory started by Freud, who thought that the clitoral orgasm was juvenile, and that “mature,” adult ladies only come from p-in-the-v sex. Since only around a quarter of women can come vaginally, this theory would leave a whole lot of immature ladies futzing about and wondering if they took a wrong turn at Vaginalbuquerque. Well, with the G’s status taken down to size, now these women can rest easy. Kilchevsky thinks so, too: "Women who can't achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration don't have anything wrong with them," he said of his 2012 study. Cancel your therapy appointments, ladies. You’re off scot-free.

Joking aside, Jannini’s most recent work on the G-spot hype does alleviate some of the sexual pressure faced by both men and women. We can now safely put away our magnifying glasses and ignore the sex advice that would have us attempting sign language in our partner’s vaginas (unless, of course, you enjoy that). While clitourethrovaginal complex is much harder to say and spell than old Ernst’s term, it’s interesting to know that the female pleasure region is not limited to any specific spot, but instead functions as a team that all works together to make your face contort like that. In other words, there may not be an “I” in “team,” but it appears there is an “O.”

By Anna Pulley

@annapulley writes about sex and social media for SF Weekly, AlterNet, After Ellen and the Chicago Tribune. She's also attempting to lead a haiku revival on her blog, Let her send you overly personal emails:

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