The Psychology of the G-Spot
The controversy behind an anatomical mystery.
Posted August 3, 2021 | Reviewed by Abigail Fagan
- The G-spot has a long and controversial history among both sex researchers and social activists.
- It’s not entirely clear whether the G-spot truly exists as a unique, identifiable anatomical structure.
- It's important to highlight female sexual anatomy that bears relevance to pleasure, which is often stigmatized and ignored.
One thing I get asked all the time by my students, as well as by my Instagram followers, is to explain the difference between a “clitoral orgasm” versus a “G-spot orgasm.” In other words, when a person with a vulva has an orgasm that is brought on by clitoral stimulation, is it somehow physiologically or psychologically different than one that comes from stimulating the G-spot? Which leads to the even more basic question of "does the G-spot even exist?"
A question of anatomy
To understand the answer to these questions, we need to back up for a second and discuss some anatomy. The clitoris is an external feature that resides where the inner labia meet at the top of the vulva. The G-spot (if it exists) is internal and three inches inside the vagina on the upper, frontal wall. Some women describe its texture as walnut-like compared to the relatively smooth texture of the surrounding inner vaginal wall.
The G-spot has a long, controversial history among both sex researchers and social activists. On one side there is the group that points to the importance of highlighting any type of female anatomy related to sexual pleasure, which traditionally is a topic that has been stigmatized and ignored.
Yet it’s not entirely clear whether the G-spot truly exists as a unique, identifiable anatomical structure. Not every woman claims to have one. Twin studies, the gold standard for determining whether something is biologically determined, suggest that the G-spot is not something that is inherited genetically. On average, having a twin who has a G-spot makes you no more or less likely to inherit one yourself. This suggests that the G-spot, if not genetically determined, must not be “real.” The G-spot may be just a general area of the vagina that feels good when stimulated, for a certain group of women.
The question of just how much emphasis should be placed on the G-spot has also attracted the attention of feminists and other advocates of female sexual pleasure. Research consistently shows that most women reach orgasm more easily from clitoral stimulation than through stimulation of the G-spot through penetrative sex (Shirazi, et al. 2018). Yet culturally the status of penetrative sex has traditionally been massively elevated and deemed the only type of "real" sex. Even Sigmund Freud claimed that female orgasms brought on by penetrative sex are more “mature” than clitoral orgasms.
All of this reinforces the notion that women who orgasm with their partner via G-spot stimulation are psychologically better off than women who only orgasm from clitoral stimulation. The point is that this all casts a lot of shame on women who worry about not being able to find their G-spot and who can’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone.
What the science has to say
In terms of whether G-spot versus clitoral orgasms are physiologically different, it helps to look at research using ultrasounds. These studies show that both types of orgasms involve the same vaginal muscular contractions that typically happen during orgasm. There are slight differences in blood flow (Levin & Wagner, 1985). When an orgasm results from clitoral stimulation, there tends to be more blood flow to the clitoral region whereas when orgasm results from the G-spot, blood flow concentrates around the vagina. Female orgasms that are stimulated via the G-spot are also more likely to lead to female ejaculation (aka “squirting”), where a small amount of fluid from the Skene’s gland is pushed through the urethra during orgasm (Addiego, 1976).
From a sensation standpoint though, in terms of how the orgasm actually feels, the answer becomes much more subjective. Some studies report that women do experience clitoral versus G-spot orgasms differently (Pfaus et al, 2016). Through self-report, female participants in one study described a clitoral orgasm as localized, intense, and physically satisfying, whereas a vaginal orgasm was described as stronger and longer lasting than clitoral orgasm, "deeper," a "whole body" sensation with throbbing feelings, and more psychologically satisfying. However, despite these subjective differences, there was no clear subjective winner between the two in terms of which one was “better” and most women utilized some blended stimulation of the two to achieve orgasm.
It could be that G-spot orgasms are “deeper” and more “whole body,” but it’s difficult to tease out the extent to which these differences stem from real sensation differences or simply reflect confirmation bias in a culture that promotes penetrative sex as “deeper” and “more real.” Ultimately, however, a woman’s orgasm is all her own, and diversity in experiences and sensations from person to person is likely a large part of the answer.
Levin RJ, Wagner G. Orgasm in women in the laboratory--quantitative studies on duration, intensity, latency, and vaginal blood flow. Archives of Sexual Behavior 1985 Oct;14(5):439-49
Addiego F, Belzer E. G, Comolli J, Moger W, Perry J. D, Whipple B. Female ejaculation: A case study. Journal of Sex Research. 1981;17:13–21.
Pfaus JG, Quintana GR, Mac Cionnaith C, Parada M. The whole versus the sum of some of the parts: toward resolving the apparent controversy of clitoral versus vaginal orgasms. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. 2016;6:32578. Published 2016 Oct 25.