A man has finally found the G-spot – or so the headlines claim. He certainly hasn’t been the first to try and I doubt he’ll be the last.
Writing in the Journal Of Sexual Medicine last month, gynaecologist Dr Adam Ostrzenski, of the Institute of Gynaecology in Florida, said he had confirmed the ‘anatomic existence’ of the fabled body part – a bundle of nerves half the size of a fingernail.
He said his study ‘may lead to a better understanding and improvement of female sexual function’. But will it really?
Controversial: Studies have struggled to come up with conclusive proof that the fabled G-spot does exist
The pleasure principle
The G-spot, or Grafenberg spot, has been studied since the Forties when it was first mooted as a biological presence by the German gynaecologist Ernst Grafenberg.
Since then there has been a fascination with the discovery, though little sound medical evidence to back it up. It is suggested that the G-spot can be found on the inside front wall of the vagina.
Some women believe it is a powerful erogenous zone, while others deny its existence. Physiological studies have been inconclusive, too.
A 2008 Italian study used ultrasound to scan 20 women. The nine out of 20 who claimed they had a G-spot had thicker internal muscle tissues. But it was argued that there could be many reasons for this, so it didn’t prove they had a G-spot.
Urologist Dr Amichai Kilchevsky, at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, led an analysis of 60 years of studies into the G-spot. Earlier this year he concluded that there was no consistent evidence regarding its existence.
Women’s ‘holy grail’
What is certain is that the debate surrounding the G-spot is inextricably linked to the rise of feminism. As women became increasingly emancipated after the Second World War, our enjoyment of sex became more acceptable. By the Seventies, having an orgasm began to be considered a woman’s right.
In 1981, a sexologist called Beverley Whipple co-wrote a book called The G-spot And Other Discoveries About Human Sexuality.
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She studied 400 women and claimed they all had a G-spot. Authors such as Whipple and a new wave of magazines fuelled the frenzy. ‘Find Your G-Spot’, screamed the headlines. It had become the holy grail of sexual pleasure.
This was arguably stressful for many women, wondering where theirs might be, and for their sexual partners haplessly searching for it. This insecurity is a massive marketing tool.
Intimacy… a subjective experience
Several pieces of research show that about 15 per cent of women never or rarely experience an orgasm. And only about 15 per cent do so all or most of the time, so being able to experience an orgasm is variable anyway.
As for orgasms linked to the G-spot, most surveys show that about two-thirds of women don’t have them, though when looking for the G-spot, couples may discover new regions whose stimulation is pleasurable, so it’s not all bad.
So what of Dr Ostrzenski’s revelation that there is physical evidence the G-spot exists? For a start, it must be pointed out that his recent study was the result of an autopsy on an elderly Polish woman who had died from a head injury, so it hardly constitutes a clinical study.
Obviously she couldn’t comment on the quality of her orgasms or if she had experienced any at all – which is, of course, the whole point of the G-spot.
Disproving the theory
In 2010, I worked on the biggest study ever into the existence of the G-spot. Our work at King’s College, London, involved 1,800 women who were all twins. We asked them whether they had a G-spot. If it did exist, it would be expected that both identical twins – who have the same genes – would report having one.
But this wasn’t the case. In 42 per cent of cases, only one twin claimed to have one. On the back of our published results, we became the target of negative comments from those with a vested interest in maintaining the myth. Beverley Whipple was most determined that our findings were wrong, saying that our study was flawed because twins rarely have the same sexual partner.
Enhancing the mood
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The debate has now been hijacked by the pharmaceutical industry, which seems hellbent on pathologising female sexual arousal.
There is even a surgical procedure called the G-Shot – a collagen injection to enhance sensitivity. The US Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it, and possible side effects include sexual dysfunction, scarring and infection.
Millions have been ploughed into the hunt for a female Viagra, but so far with little success. Medical treatments for low female libido include hormone therapies and the male hormone testosterone, administered through patches.
There is also a mood-enhancer called Flibanserin, originally developed to treat depression. But it was not approved because in trials it did not work that much better than a placebo.
Emotion versus mechanics
Millions of pounds have been devoted to developing bizarrely shaped gadgets promising to both locate and stimulate the G-spot. They are even sold in Boots. One report in 2009 suggested that the sex-toy industry is worth about £10 billion globally.
Put very simply, for men, sexual arousal is mechanical but for women there usually has to be emotional satisfaction. It means women can be physically aroused but mentally nothing happens – the body works but the mind acts as a block.
That’s the thing about the G-spot. You can look for it but don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t make a difference to your sex life.
lThe author works at the Department for Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology, Kings College, London.