Analyzing The Latest Study in the G-spot Debate
What does the cadaver say about her G-Spot?
Posted Apr 30, 2012
In my last blog, I lauded the clitoris, noting that it’s the only human organ designed exclusively for pleasure and the most reliable route to orgasm for women. I gave passing commentary to the G-Spot, stating that “… while some experts claim that orgasms during intercourse are due to the elusive G-spot, a reputable group of scientists assert that vaginal orgasms aren't due to anything in the vagina at all: they are the result of stimulation to the internal structures of the clitoris....” A reader took issue, telling me she was certain that the G-spot produces orgasms; her proof was her own G-Spot orgasms.
She also said “this author should do her research.” I responded with a long list of scientific citations summarizing the research I had done. The take-home message of my reply was that not all experts agree the G-spot exists. A recent blog likens this expert disagreement to “the sexual equivalent of searching for UFOs: rarely does a year go by without a new study either confirming or disproving the existence of this small area just inside the vagina…”
Scientific Critiques of the Study
Several top sexual medicine researchers are taking issue with the study. Dr. Debby Herbenick, a sexual-health educator at the Kinsey Institute wrote in the Daily Beast, "We don't know how many women (if any) have similar structures.” Because this one cadaver had such a structure, it doesn’t mean that all women do. Bolstering Herbenick’s assertion are articles, published in this same scientific journal, noting that there are anatomical differences among women in this area of the vagina. (References at end of blog).
Another compelling critique comes from a distinguished group of researchers, including Dr. Beverly Whipple, the past-director of the International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health and the scientist who coined the term "G-spot" in 1981. These researchers, as well as Ricki Lewis writing in Scientific America, note that it is not clear just what kind of tissue Ostrzensk discovered. Lewis tells us, "Dr. O had to return the dissected putative G-spot to the body for burial, so he didn’t have a chance to do the histology that would identify what he’d discovered. The chain of grapes in their bluish sheath, said a friend who is an anatomy authority and would kill me if I used his name here, said it looks like a hematoma, a pooling of blood that happened when the owner of said spot maybe bumped her crotch into something years ago."
The punch line of Wipple and colleagues critiques, quoted in CBS News, speaks for itself: "We submit that the author's claim to have discovered 'the' G-spot does not fulfill the most fundamental scientific criteria.”
Who Stands to Benefit?
Kristen Marks, a writer for Kinsey Confidential, ties such concerns to this recent cadaver study. Marks states, “What is … troubling to me is that Dr. Ostrzenski is a cosmetic gynecologist, and leading the public to believe that female sexual function will be improved by this discovery has the potential for major profit for his practice.” Writing for Scientific America", Ricki Lewis quotes Dr. O as stating that he "foresees clinical and commercial components that I believe will make a lot of noise." (substitue "money" for "noise").
Clearly, if G-spot studies lead to G-spot enhancement procedures, then drug companies and surgeons reap financial benefits.
How Women are Harmed
Women are harmed by the G-spot debate if the message that they take is that there is a right kind of orgasm, the topic of one of my prior Psychology Today blogs. The sexist nature of this quest for the right orgasm is brilliantly analyzed by Dr. Boyton. “We know that men experience pleasure and the sensation of orgasm in different parts of their genitals (for example the testicles or head of the penis). We also know that some men prefer to orgasm via oral sex or anal sex rather than penis-in-vagina sex. Yet we do not have numerous conflicting studies suggesting men who report pleasure from testicular stimulation are deluded, missing out, or need to learn to experience pleasure in other parts of their genitals. … [There are not]… sex toys or advice manuals that encourage men to learn to enjoy vaginal sex rather than oral or anal penetration because these are 'superior'. Yet we persistently try and make out there are unique parts of the female genitals that should or should not be stimulated to encourage orgasm…”
Women keep being told that vaginal orgasms or G-spot orgasms are superior, despite the fact that the vast majority of women do not reliably orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. This emphasis may be the reason, as I propose in a prior blog, that so many women fake orgasm. Yet, the most frightening aspect of this quest for vaginal and G-spot orgasms is that women are undergoing untested and precarious medical procedures to achieve them. Author Deborah Sundahl warns on her website that “The G-shot procedure is a potential health risk…. The procedure is not approved by the FDA.”
A Positive Message for Women
By far the most important advice for sexual satisfaction and orgasm is to know what you like and to learn to ask your partner for it. The reader of my last blog enjoyed G-spot stimulation; she told me so. An 83-year old female cadaver was found to have a distinct spot on her vaginal wall, but we don’t know what she enjoyed sexually or what brought her to orgasm. For that, we would have had to ask her.
Jannini, E. A., Whipple, B., Kingsberg, S. A., Buisson, O., Foldes, P., & Vardi, Y. (2010). Who’s afraid of the g-spot? Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 25-34.
Gravina, G. L., Brandetti, F., Martini, P., Carosa, E., Di Stasi, S. M., Morano, S., Lenzi, A., & Jannini, E. A. (2008). Measurement of the thickness of the urethrovaginal space in women with or without vaginal orgasm. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 5, 610-618.