The Gräfenberg Spot, often called the G-Spot, is defined as a bean-shaped area of the vagina. Some women report that it is an erogenous zone which, when stimulated, can lead to strong sexual arousal, powerful orgasms and female ejaculation. The G-Spot is typically described as being located one to three inches (2.5 to 7.6 cm) up the front (anterior) vaginal wall between the vaginal opening and the urethra and is a sensitive area that may be part of the female prostate.
Although the G-Spot has been studied since the 1940s, disagreement persists over its existence as a distinct structure, definition and location. A 2009 British study concluded that its existence is unproven and subjective, based on questionnaires and personal experience. Other studies, using ultrasound, have found physiological evidence of the G-Spot in women who report having orgasms during intercourse. It is also hypothesized that the G-Spot is an extension of the clitoris and that this is the cause of vaginal orgasms.
Sexologists and other researchers are concerned that women may consider themselves to be dysfunctional if they do not experience the G-Spot, and emphasize that it is normal not to experience it. Some women have undergone a plastic surgery procedure called G-Spot amplification (see below) in an effort to enhance its sensitivity.
17th-century, Dutch physician Regnier de Graaf described female ejaculation and referred to an erogenous zone in the vagina that he linked with the male prostate; this zone was later reported by the German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg. The term "G-Spot" was coined by Addiego et al. in 1981, named after Gräfenberg, even though Gräfenberg's 1940s research was dedicated to urethral stimulation; Gräfenberg stated, "An erotic zone always could be demonstrated on the anterior wall of the vagina along the course of the urethra." The concept of the G-Spot entered popular culture after the publication of The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality by Alice Kahn Ladas and Beverly Whipple et al. in 1982, but it was criticized immediately by leading gynecologists. Some of them denied its existence, as the absence of arousal made it less likely to observe and autopsy studies did not report it.
An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to 2350 professional women in the United States and Canada with a subsequent 55% return rate. Of these respondents, 40% reported having a fluid release (ejaculation) at the moment of orgasm. Further, 82% of the women who reported the sensitive area (Gräfenberg Spot) also reported ejaculation with their orgasms. Several variables were associated with this perceived existence of female ejaculation.
Sexual stimulation and studies
The location of the G-Spot is typically reported as being about 50 to 80 mm (2 to 3 in) inside the vagina, on the front wall. For some women, stimulating the area creates a more intense orgasm than clitoral stimulation. The G-Spot area has been described as needing direct stimulation, especially with firm moves and constant pressure as it is ~1 cm below the surface. Stimulating the area through sexual penetration, especially in the missionary position, is difficult to achieve because of the special angle at which penetration must occur. Women usually need direct clitoral stimulation to orgasm, and G-Spot stimulation may be best applied by using both manual stimulation and vaginal penetration.
Two primary methods have been used to define and locate the G-Spot as a sensitive area in the vagina:
- self-reported levels of arousal during stimulation
- stimulation of the G-Spot leads to female ejaculation
Sex toy use
One of the most common sex toys used in G-Spot stimulation is the specially-designed G-Spot vibrator. This is a phallus-like vibrator that has a curved tip which attempts to make G-Spot stimulation easy.
G-Spot vibrators are made from the same materials as regular vibrators, ranging from hard plastic, rubber, silicone, jelly, or any combination of them. The level of vaginal penetration when using a G-Spot vibrator depends on the woman because women's physiology is not always the same. The effects of G-Spot stimulation when using the penis or a G-Spot vibrator may be enhanced by additionally stimulating other erogenous zones on a woman's body, such as the clitoris or vulva as a whole. When using a G-Spot vibrator, this may be done by manually stimulating the clitoris, using the vibrator as a clitoral vibrator in addition to a G-Spot vibrator, or, if the vibrator is designed for it, by applying it so that it stimulates the head of the clitoris, rest of the vulva and the vagina simultaneously.
In a 1981 published case study of one woman, it was reported that stimulation of the anterior vaginal wall made the area grow by fifty percent and that self-reported levels of arousal/orgasm were "deeper" when the G-Spot was stimulated. Another study, in 1983, examined eleven women by palpating the entire vagina in a clockwise fashion, and reported a specific response to stimulation of the anterior vaginal wall in four of the women.
Researchers at the University of L'Aquila have found, using ultrasonography, that women who experience vaginal orgasms are statistically more likely to have thicker tissue in the anterior vaginal wall. The researchers believe these findings make it possible for women to have a rapid test to confirm whether or not they have a G-Spot. A French study in late 2009 examined a small number of women with ultrasound as they had intercourse. By examining changes in the vagina, the research team found physiological evidence of the G-Spot.
Though the hypothesis has been challenged (see below), there is some research suggesting that G-Spot and clitoral orgasms are of the same origin. Masters and Johnson were the first to determine that the clitoral structures surround and extend along and within the labia. Upon studying women's sexual response cycle to different stimulation, they observed that both clitoral and vaginal orgasms had the same stages of physical response, and found that the majority of their subjects could only achieve clitoral orgasms, while a minority achieved vaginal orgasms. On this basis, Masters and Johnson argued that clitoral stimulation is the source of both kinds of orgasms, reasoning that the clitoris is stimulated during penetration by friction against its hood. Professor of genetic epidemiology, Tim Spector, who co-authored research questioning the existence of the G-Spot, finalized in 2009, hypothesizes thicker tissue in the G-Spot area may be part of the clitoris and is not a separate erogenous zone. Supporting Spector's conclusion is a study published in 2005 which investigates the size of the clitoris – it suggests that clitoral tissue extends into the anterior wall of the vagina. The main researcher of the studies, Australian urologist Helen O'Connell, asserts that this interconnected relationship is the physiological explanation for the conjectured G-Spot and experience of vaginal orgasms, taking into account the stimulation of the internal parts of the clitoris during vaginal penetration. While using MRI technology, O'Connell noted a direct relationship between the legs or roots of the clitoris and the erectile tissue of the "clitoral bulbs" and corpora, and the distal urethra and vagina. "The vaginal wall is, in fact, the clitoris," said O'Connell. "If you lift the skin off the vagina on the side walls, you get the bulbs of the clitoris – triangular, crescental masses of erectile tissue." O'Connell et al., who performed dissections on the female genitals of cadavers and used photography to map the structure of nerves in the clitoris, were already aware that the clitoris is more than just its glans and asserted in 1998 that there is more erectile tissue associated with the clitoris than is generally described in anatomical textbooks. They concluded that some females have more extensive clitoral tissues and nerves than others, especially having observed this in young cadavers as compared to elderly ones, and therefore whereas the majority of females can only achieve orgasm by direct stimulation of the external parts of the clitoris, the stimulation of the more generalized tissues of the clitoris via intercourse may be sufficient for others.
French researchers Odile Buisson and Pierre Foldès reported similar findings to that of O'Connell's. In 2008, they published the first complete 3D sonography of the stimulated clitoris, and republished it in 2009 with new research, demonstrating the ways in which erectile tissue of the clitoris engorges and surrounds the vagina. On the basis of this research, they argued that women may be able to achieve vaginal orgasm via stimulation of the G-Spot because the highly innervated clitoris is pulled closely to the anterior wall of the vagina when the woman is sexually aroused and during vaginal penetration. They assert that since the front wall of the vagina is inextricably linked with the internal parts of the clitoris, stimulating the vagina without activating the clitoris may be next to impossible. In their 2009 published study, the "coronal planes during perineal contraction and finger penetration demonstrated a close relationship between the root of the clitoris and the anterior vaginal wall". Buisson and Foldès suggested "that the special sensitivity of the lower anterior vaginal wall could be explained by pressure and movement of clitoris's root during a vaginal penetration and subsequent perineal contraction".
In 2011, researcher Adam Ostrzenski claimed to have found the first evidence of G-Spot anatomical structures by dissecting a cadaver in Poland. Between the fifth and sixth layer of the vaginal wall, there were grape-like clusters Ostrzenski believes are erectile tissue that would function as a G-Spot. The research was published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2012. Critics of Ostrzenski's claim note that he provided no evidence that his sample consists of nerve endings, that the structures play a role in arousal, or that they would be in one specific area. Ostrzenski said that part of the reason he did not detail a precise type of tissue and how it works is because the Polish regulations that govern dissection of fresh cadavers prevented him from taking samples for histological testing. He said that he is not suggesting that the G-Spot he reports to have found will be in the same place, or have the same effect, for every woman.
In 2001, the Federative Committee on Anatomical Terminology accepted female prostate as an accurate term for the Skene's gland, which is believed to be found in the G-Spot area along the walls of the urethra. The male prostate is biologically homologous to the Skene's gland; it has been unofficially called the male G-Spot because it can also be used as an erogenous zone. It is located where the rectum joins the colon, about 50 mm (2 in) from the anus, and when aroused it is a walnut-shaped swelling.
Regnier de Graaf, in 1672, observed that the secretions (female ejaculation) by the erogenous zone in the vagina lubricate "in agreeable fashion during coitus". Modern scientific hypotheses linking G-Spot sensitivity with female ejaculation led to the idea that non-urine female ejaculate may originate from the Skene's gland. Tissue examination showed 15 prostate-specific antigen in the gland, with the Skene's gland and male prostate acting similarly in terms of prostate-specific antigen and prostate-specific acid phosphatase studies, which led to a trend of calling the Skene's glands the female prostate. Additionally, the enzyme PDE5 (involved with erectile dysfunction) has additionally been associated with the G-Spot area. Because of these factors, it has been argued that the G-Spot is a system of glands and ducts located within the anterior (front) wall of the vagina about one centimeter from the surface. A similar approach has linked the G-Spot with the urethral sponge.
G-Spot proponents are criticized for giving too much credence to anecdotal evidence, and for questionable investigative methods; for instance, the studies which have yielded positive evidence for a precisely located G-Spot involve small participant samples. Scientific examinations of vaginal wall innervation have generally shown that there is no single area with a greater density of nerve endings. A 2006 study of 110 biopsy specimens drawn from 21 women concluded with the absence of a vaginal locus with greater nerve density. Several researchers also consider the connection between the Skene's gland and the G-Spot to be weak. They contend that the Skene's gland does not appear to have receptors for touch stimulation, and that there is no direct evidence for its involvement. However, while neither the area of the anterior vaginal wall where the G-Spot is said to be located nor the Skene's gland appear to possess great nerve density, the urethral sponge, which is thought by some to be homologous to the G-Spot, does contain sensitive nerve endings and erectile tissue. Additionally, sensitivity is not determined by neuron density alone: other factors include the branching patterns of neuron terminals and cross or collateral innervation of neurons.
In addition to general skepticism among gynecologists, doctors and researchers that the G-Spot exists, a team at King's College London in late 2009 suggested that its existence is subjective. They acquired the largest sample size of women to date – 1,800 – who are pairs of twins, and found that the twins did not report a similar G-Spot in their questionnaires. The research, headed by Tim Spector, documents a 15-year study of the twins, identical and non-identical. Identical twins share genes, while non-identical pairs share 50% of theirs. According to the researchers, if one identical twin reported having a G-Spot, it was more likely that the other would too, but this pattern did not materialize. Study co-author Dr. Andrea Burri believes: "It is rather irresponsible to claim the existence of an entity that has never been proven and pressurise women and men too." Burri stated that one of the reasons for the research was to remove feelings of "inadequacy or underachievement" for women who feared they lacked a G-Spot. Dr. Beverly Whipple dismissed the findings, commenting that twins have different sexual partners and techniques, and that the study did not properly account for lesbian or bisexual women.
Like Burri, Dr. Petra Boynton, a British scientist who has written extensively on the G-Spot debate, is concerned about the promotion of the G-Spot leading women to feel "dysfunctional" if they do not experience it. "We're all different. Some women will have a certain area within the vagina which will be very sensitive, and some won't—but they won't necessarily be in the area called the G-Spot," stated Boynton. "If a woman spends all her time worrying about whether she is normal, or has a G-Spot or not, she will focus on just one area, and ignore everything else. It's telling people that there is a single, best way to have sex, which isn't the right thing to do."
The G-Spot having an anatomical relationship with the clitoris has also been challenged. Vincenzo Puppo, who, while agreeing that the clitoris is the locus of female sexual pleasure, disagrees with Helen O'Connell and other researchers' terminological and anatomical descriptions of the clitoris. "Clitoral bulbs is an incorrect term from an embryological and anatomical viewpoint, in fact the bulbs do not develop from the phallus, and they do not belong to the clitoris: 'clitoral bulbs' is not a term used in human anatomy, the correct term is the vestibular bulbs," stated Puppo. "Gynecologists, sexual medicine experts, and sexologists should spread certainties for all women, not hypotheses or personal opinions, they should use scientific terminology: clitoral/vaginal/uterine orgasm, G/A/C/U spot orgasm, and female ejaculation, are terms that should not be used by sexologists, women, and mass media." He argues that the "anterior vaginal wall is separated from the posterior urethral wall by the urethrovaginal septum (its thickness is 10–12 mm)" and that the "inner clitoris" does not exist. "The female perineal urethra, which is located in front of the anterior vaginal wall, is about one centimeter in length and the G-Spot is located in the pelvic wall of the urethra, 2–3 cm into the vagina," Puppo stated. "The male penis cannot come in contact with the venous plexus of Kobelt (situated until the angle of the clitoris) or with the roots of the clitoris (which do not have sensory receptors or erogenous sensitivity) during vaginal intercourse." Puppo did, however, dismiss the orgasmic definition of the G-Spot that emerged after Ernst Gräfenberg, stating that "there is no anatomical evidence of the vaginal orgasm which was invented by Freud in 1905, without any scientific basis".
In contrast to Puppo's belief that there is no anatomical relationship between the clitoris and vagina, the majority of researchers maintain that vaginal orgasms are the result of clitoral stimulation, reaffirming that clitoral tissue extends even in the area most commonly reported to be the G-Spot. "My view is that the G-Spot is really just the extension of the clitoris on the inside of the vagina, analogous to the base of the male penis," said Amichai Kilchevsky. Because all humans start out as female in the womb and therefore the penis is essentially an enlarged clitoris, changed by male hormones, Kilchevsky believes that there is no evolutionary reason why females would have two separate structures capable of producing orgasms and blames the porn industry and "G-Spot promoters" for "encouraging the myth" of a distinct G-Spot. Arguments that vaginal orgasms help encourage sexual intercourse in order to facilitate reproduction are challenged by the fact that vaginal orgasms are significantly difficult to achieve, a predicament that is believed to be the result of nature easing the process of child bearing by drastically reducing the number of vaginal nerve endings. However, one study, published in 2011, which was the first to map the female genitals onto the sensory portion of the brain, keeps "the possibility of a discrete G-Spot viable". When a Rutgers University research team asked several women to stimulate themselves in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine, brain scans showed stimulating the clitoris, vagina and cervix lit up distinct areas of the women's sensory cortex, which means the brain registered distinct feelings between stimulating the clitoris, the cervix and the vaginal wall – where the G-Spot is reported to be. "I think that the bulk of the evidence shows that the G-Spot is not a particular thing," stated Barry Komisaruk, head of the research findings. "It's not like saying, 'What is the thyroid gland?' The G-Spot is more of a thing like New York City is a thing. It's a region, it's a convergence of many different structures."
In 2010, The Journal of Sexual Medicine planned a debate and publications from both sides of the G-Spot issue. In 2012, scholars Kilchevsky, Vardi, Lowenstein and Gruenwald stated in the journal, "Reports in the public media would lead one to believe the G-Spot is a well-characterized entity capable of providing extreme sexual stimulation, yet this is far from the truth." The authors cited that dozens of trials have attempted to confirm the existence of a G-Spot using surveys, pathologic specimens, various imaging modalities, and biochemical markers, and concluded:
The surveys found that a majority of women believe a G-Spot actually exists, although not all of the women who believed in it were able to locate it. Attempts to characterize vaginal innervation have shown some differences in nerve distribution across the vagina, although the findings have not proven to be universally reproducible. Furthermore, radiographic studies have been unable to demonstrate a unique entity, other than the clitoris, whose direct stimulation leads to vaginal orgasm. Objective measures have failed to provide strong and consistent evidence for the existence of an anatomical site that could be related to the famed G-Spot. However, reliable reports and anecdotal testimonials of the existence of a highly sensitive area in the distal anterior vaginal wall raise the question of whether enough investigative modalities have been implemented in the search of the G-Spot.
G-Spot amplification (also called G-Spot augmentation or the G-Shot) is a procedure intended to temporarily increase pleasure in sexually active women with normal sexual function, focusing on increasing the size and sensitivity of the G-Spot. G-Spot amplification is performed by attempting to locate the G-Spot and noting measurements for future reference. After numbing the area with a local anesthetic, human engineered collagen is then injected directly under the mucosa in the area the G-Spot is concluded to be in.
A position paper published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2007 warns that there is no valid medical reason to perform the procedure, which is not considered routine or accepted by the College; and it has not been proven to be safe or effective. The potential risks include sexual dysfunction, infection, altered sensation, dyspareunia, adhesions and scarring. The College position is that it is untenable to recommend the procedure. The procedure is also not approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the American Medical Association, and no peer-reviewed studies have been accepted to account for either safety or effectiveness of this treatment.
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