The G spot: an update

The G spot: an update

Whether or not the G spot is, indeed, a sensitive part of the female genitalia, there’s no doubt that even after all these years, it’s still a sensitive subject. The G spot remains not only a physiological controversy, but a political one as well.

For those of you who remember the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, and the subsequent spate of “how-to”sex manuals, you may recall the excitement generated by these books about the discovery of the “G-spot” in women. The G spot was shrouded in an aura of mystique; although physically difficult to locate, it was purported to produce exquisite pleasure in women if found.

Actually, it was Austrian gynecologist Ernst Grafenberg, M.D. who wrote about the Grafenberg, or “G” spot, in 1950. Although some people resented a male doctor for naming the G spot after himself, the term was actually coined by John D. Perry, Ph.D, ACS, Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., RN., F.A.A.N., and Alice Kahn Ladas, Ed.D., in their 1982 book, The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality, in deference to Grafenberg’s early awareness.

Not easy to find

Perry, Whipple, and Ladas conducted studies showing physical evidence of the G spot in some women. They measured vaginal orgasms that resulted from stimulation of the G spot and analyzed female ejaculate that flowed from some subjects. Despite their previous research, and continued research today, the G spot is notoriously difficult to define or locate.

“The Grafenberg spot is a sensitive area felt through the upper or front wall of the vagina. The G spot does not lie on the vaginal wall itself, but can be felt through it. It is usually felt about half way between the back of the pubic bone and the cervix and feels like a small lump that swells as it is stimulated,” writes Whipple in an email to HealthGate entitled “How to Find the Grafenberg Spot.

Controversy surrounding the existence of the G spot and female ejaculation

Although the G spot is not universally accepted among anatomists and physiologists, many researchers do agree that the G spot exists. A corollary is female ejaculation, which is even more in dispute than the G spot itself. Researchers like Whipple insist they have analyzed this substance and that it chemically resembles male ejaculate minus the sperm. Others say it is urine, or vaginal secretions, or a mixture.

Some studies confirm the G spot by surveying women who say they have one. Theories hold that the G spot may be analogous to the prostate gland in men; some descriptions seem to simply accept it as an erogenous zone that may not exist in one particular spot in a woman’s vagina. Others have located it in the upper anterior area of the vagina.

There are many researchers who believe that many women have a G spot based on the strength of a variety of evidence, but it’s also understood that not all women have one. “The jury is out on the percent of women,” says Gina Ogden, Ph.D., a sex researcher and therapist and author of Women Who Love Sex. “For some women it’s normal not only to feel delightful sensations inside, with a finger or a penis, but some women also feel a definite release of fluid.”

There are sex researchers who still don’t buy it. A spokeman for Virgina Johnson of the sex research team Masters and Johnson told, “She’ll tell you there is no such thing. There is no G spot.” Dr. Ruth Westheimer also prefers to think of the clitoral orgasm as the standard because, she says, vaginal orgasms or G spot-stimulated orgasms appear to be true for only a tiny minority and are too vaguely defined.

The G spot is not only difficult to define, it can also be difficult to find. “Women have reported that they have difficulty locating and stimulating the G spot by themselves (except with a dildo, a G spot vibrator, or similar device) but they have no difficulty identifying the erotic sensation when the area is stimulated by a partner,” Whipple’s email continues.

The politics of the G spot

In the late 1970s and 1980s , the idea that women might require vaginal stimulation for orgasm seemed like a backlash against the respect the clitoris had finally garnered. Detailed measurements by Masters and Johnson, for example, had led to the post-Freudian feminist wisdom that no matter what the stimulus, female orgasm originated in the clitoris. No need for penis envy, or for a penis for that matter, when women had something of their own.

Sara Davidson, in a recent issue of Mirabella magazine, writes of this “reign of the clitoris supreme:” “We were free, our experiences were validated, and we buried the vaginal orgasm under cement….While the clitoris ruled, the vagina was made an inferior place, lacking the nerves and exquisite sensitivity of it’s cousin. Gradually, this changed the way men made love.”

And that was deemed progress. A woman could invite a man into her sexual life if she chose to, but he was unnecessary to her sexual pleasure. Evidence of the G spot, to some feminists, undid that progress. Ogden laments this attitude, and says these G spot naysayers should be more interested in what gives women fulfillment. “For some academic feminists the concept of sexual pleasure, particularly, “inside” sexual pleasure that might involve a penis, is frankly terrifying. Their mandate is about female power and I think their fear is that women will become vulnerable. Yet we are taking charge of our pleasure and our sexuality.”

The frantic search

Another controversy surrounding the G spot–and one about which Whipple is particularly sensitive–is that in many ways it became a sexual Holy Grail. When news of the G spot broke, many women and their partners scrambled about frantically and dutifully in search of it. Lacking understanding of its subtleties, they fumbled around like people looking for a lost contact lens. Unfulfilled, they gave up, creating feelings of failure and casting doubt on the new discovery.

Whipple hates the idea that the “G” in G spot could in any way stand for “goal.”

“I philosophically believe that we should not be goal-oriented in our sexual interaction,” Whipple told HealthGate. “I believe that helping people to be pleasure-oriented helps them to focus on the process and the activities. Men and women then feel much better about themselves, their partner and their interaction. I do many workshops around the world that teach people to focus on sexual and sensual pleasure. I have never presented my research without using that model. That way people do not feel they have to reach a goal, or have to find the G spot or have male multiple orgasms, or have female multiple orgasms, or have female ejaculation.”

To G or not to G

Still, it’s logical that reading or hearing about the G spot, vaginal orgasm, or female ejaculation may be intriguing to women who haven’t otherwise experienced them. And it’s understandable that women not born with a G spot or the ability to ejaculate may feel left out.

There are workshops that women can take with or without their partners to help them find their G spot or to learn Tantric and other techniques likely to broaden their sexual knowledge. Davidson’s Mirabella article is a lively and open-minded, if a bit skeptical, tale of one such workshop.

But most of all, Whipple, Ogden and others say, finding what pleases you sexually is the only goal to have. (One bit of consensus among sex experts – whether or not they believe in the G spot – is that the missionary position flunks in the sexual gratification department.) That may be easier said than done, of course, because women aren’t always taught to associate sex with pleasure. But giving in to sensual pleasure is more important than experiencing ejaculation or stimulating the G spot, even to its most ardent defenders.

“Holding hands and being touched may be one of the wonderful, most satisfying experiences in the world,” Whipple says, “and it doesn’t have to be anything else.”

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