How Vaginas Work

The G-Spot: Myth or Magic Button?

In the 1950s, Dr. Ernest Grafenberg wrote about a spot on the vaginal wall that was a few inches from the vaginal opening, on the side that is closest to the stomach. This area, he wrote, was capable of producing immense pleasure for a woman; the G-spot received its name in honor of that doctor. However, many researchers claim that "G" doesn't mark any spot at all.

Though women claim anecdotally to have found their G-spots, researchers have had trouble finding it consistently in lab experiments. It's possible that not every woman has one, according to Italian researcher Emmanuele Jannini. In 2002, he released a study that looked for biological and chemical changes in the tissue where the G-spot should be. He found that women who claimed to have a G-spot had a protein known as PDE5 located near the G-spot, whereas women who said they'd never had a vaginal orgasm lacked PDE5 [source: Jones]. Six years later, Jannini released another study that used ultrasound scanning to look for the G-spot. Women who reported having orgasms brought on by the G-spot showed thicker tissue in the area than women who reported never having such an orgasm [source: Sample]. Jannini suggested that his findings meant that women could have a simple test to figure out whether they had a G-spot or not; if they didn't, then the women and their partners would be able to stop worrying about finding it. Critics, however, suggested that the area might need to be developed and built up, much like a muscle that you want to do heavy lifting. If the women stopped searching for their G-spot, these critics said, then they'd never find it and fulfill their G-spot potential.

In 2010, scientists from King's College, London, claimed that there's no physical or genetic basis for the G-spot. This finding was based on a study of twins; since twins possess the same genetic makeup, researchers expected that if one twin claimed to have a G-spot, then the other twin should have one as well. Since this pattern didn't holdup, researchers deemed the G-spot a subjective fluke. However, this analysis received harsh rebuke from French scientists. Not only did the French scientists claim that about 60 percent of women possess a G-spot, they also said that the Brits were simply too uptight and "totalitarian" about sex to find it [source: Davies]. Politer dissenters also piped up to point out that while twins may share their genes, they usually don't share their sexual partners, meaning that one twin may simply have lucked out in that department [source: Roberts].

One reason researchers -- and women -- are so interested in the G-spot is that it, along with the adjacent Skene's glands, might constitute the female prostate. The male prostate is a notable erogenous zone, and some women claim that when their own prostate is stimulated, they are able to ejaculate like men. Women have volunteered to ejaculate in lab environments, and they emit a fluid that is very similar to semen, both in appearance and in chemical make-up.

It's uncertain how common female ejaculation is, and to many researchers, it's also unclear if studies of the female anatomy or the female orgasm will yield any useful information to the population as a whole because women seem to vary so widely in their anatomy and their sexual preferences. Researchers can't even figure out why women have orgasms, since conception isn't dependent on it. Theories range from the idea that a man who takes the time and effort to give a woman an orgasm is marked as a good, patient provider for future offspring to the possibility that vaginal contractions help sperm on their journey to the cervix. Female orgasms, either vaginal or clitoral, may just be a happy accident.

For now, the G-spot will remain controversial and sometimes elusive. On the next page, we'll look at another contentious part of the vaginal anatomy.