Do Vaginal Orgasms Really Exist?
When you think of a sonogram, you probably think of some grainy gray and white image of your baby’s hand waving at you labeled with the caption “Hi Mom!” You probably don’t think about the clitoris. But a couple of French doctors do (leave it to the French).
Is There Really a G-Spot?
A study in Sexual Medicine called “The Clitoral Complex: A Dynamic Sonographic Study” mixes ultrasound, the clitoris, the G-spot, and vaginal orgasms together into a sexy soup I couldn’t resist writing about. Whether or not the G-spot exists remains controversial. One of the questions I answered in my upcoming book What’s Up Down There? Questions You’d Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend is “Does the G-spot really exist?” The answer:
According to the teacher in my Gross Anatomy lab, the answer is no. As we were dissecting the vagina, someone asked, “So where’s the G-Spot, Doc?” My teacher, in his thick Eastern European accent, said, “Zere is no G-Spot in ze human female.” Okay, good to know.
The rest of my medical training pretty much agreed with Professor Von Buzzkill. An expert in the field even told me that every part of the vagina has been examined under the microscope, and there is nothing on the anterior wall of the vagina that looks any different than the rest of the vagina. Therefore, the G-spot does not exist. Period.
However, as is the case with much I learned in medical school, my patients tell me otherwise. Over the years, thousands of patients have sworn that there is a place felt through the anterior wall of the vagina that hits the oh-oh-oh spot –- or, rather, is the spot. I believe in many things I cannot see, so I tend to believe my patients.
Hunting for data to validate their experience, I came across Dr. Beverly Whipple, who famously named the G-spot after German OB/GYN Dr. Ernst Gräfenburg, who described a zone of erogenous feeling on the anterior wall of the vaginal canal. (A friend of hers suggested she name it the “Whipple Tickle,” but out of respect for Whipples everywhere, she vetoed this idea.) According to Dr. Whipple, the G-spot definitely exists. When I asked her why some in the medical community vehemently deny its existence, she seemed baffled. She said, “I don’t know. I guess because they can’t see it under a microscope, they think it doesn’t exist. But my career has been about validating what real women experience. And some -- but not all -- definitely experience pleasurable feelings when you stimulate the G-spot area.”
Her belief runs so deep that she went on to conduct hundreds of studies aimed at validating the sexual experiences women relate. For one study in 1981, 400 female volunteers were examined. According to Dr. Whipple, a spot that empirically swells with stimulation was found in each of these women, although she admits that not all women appear to be sensitive to this type of stimulation.
So what is the G-spot? Dr. Whipple isn’t sure. As Dr. Von Buzzkill said, no specific anatomic differences can be detected in this area. But she suspects a cluster of blood vessels, nerves, glands (including the “female prostate gland”), and part of of the clitoris may all merge to create a sensitive area that hits the spot. She believes the female experience more than the microscope, and I tend to agree with her.
Drs. Foldes and Buisson seem to agree with Dr. Whipple, theorizing that the reason some women can have vaginal orgasms is that the anterior wall of the vagina (in the location of the famed G-spot) overlies the root of the clitoris, where the crura (legs) come together. So perhaps the reason that nobody can find an anatomic location for the controversial G-spot is because there’s nothing special about this part of the vagina other than it butts up against a sweet spot of the clitoris.
A Clitoral Anatomy Lesson
First, a bit of anatomy. You may think the clitoris starts and ends as the little nubbin that lies just below the mons pubis (where you pubes are) and just above the urethra (where the pee comes out). But the little hot button you can see (the glans of the clitoris) is just the tip of the sensual iceberg. The clitoris functions like a female version of the penis and is made up of 8,000 nerve endings, all dedicated to your pleasure. (Nice work, Universe!) The clitoris also consists of two crura, little legs that fill up with blood and become erect, much like a penis does.
In the French study, researchers wanted to investigate what happens to the clitoral root and crura and whether these parts of the anatomy could explain the phenomenon of vaginal orgasm. In other words, if vaginal orgasms come from deep clitoral stimulation through the anterior wall of the vagina, why can’t all women have them? What might be going on?
But how do you investigate such a thing? Turns out that the handy dandy ultrasound of fetal fame proves helpful. In the Clitoral Complex study, researchers took five women and did ultrasounds, both at rest and when they were contracting the perineum (a.k.a. doing Kegel exercises). They then asked women to identify the sensitive spot they associated with pleasure. Sure enough, women pointed to the spot on the vagina closest to the clitoral root, where the crura of the clitoris come together.
So What Does This Mean For Vaginal Orgasms?
Well, the jury’s still out. This was a very small study, with only five women, and we need more data. But it suggests that what Dr. Whipple has been saying all along is true, that perhaps it’s not the vagina itself that feels good to women who love their G-spots but the clitoris they’re reaching underneath. Perhaps the “G-spot” defines the place closest to the root of the clitoris, which is overflowing with juicy nerves that hit the spot.
Why does a “vaginal” orgasm feel different than one created by stimulating the glans of the clitoris? Well, the stimulation would be anatomically different. Because the part of the clitoris being stimulated is farther away from the spot of stimulation, it might take longer to build. And it might simply feel different because it may be a different part of the clitoris getting stimulated. Truth is, nobody really knows.
Why Can’t All Women Have Vaginal Orgasms?
So if we all have a clitoris, why can’t we all have vaginal orgasms? Perhaps it’s simply a matter of anatomy. If that clitoral root is too far away from the anterior wall of the vagina, maybe you simply can’t feel it enough to be stimulated. If you’re lucky enough to hit the spot, perhaps it’s because your clitoral root is closer. Every woman is different –- you’re normal if you do have vaginal orgasms, and you’re normal if you don’t.
Don’t Let Anyone Take Away Your Vaginal Orgasms
Regardless of how the science works, I say that if the G-spot works for you, and you’re rocking your vaginal orgasms, own it, baby! Don’t let any study interfere with your pleasure. If you’ve tried and can’t seem to find the spot, don’t worry. You’re so not alone.
When it comes right down to it, orgasms are God’s gift to women (after all, unlike men, we don’t even have to have one in order to procreate. The way I see it, they’re sort of a fortunate freebie!) Whether you get your pleasure from the clitoris or the vagina doesn’t matter outside the realm of academics. Enjoy what you have, honor your body, and leave the science to us nerds.
How about you? Do you have vaginal orgasms? Do you believe it’s all clitoral? Can you tell the difference? Do you care one way or another?
Rooting for your O- O- O!
Dr. Lissa Rankin is an OB/GYN physician, an author, a nationally-represented professional artist, and the founder of Owning Pink, an online community committed to building authentic community and empowering women to get- and keep- their "mojo". Owning Pink is all about owning all the facets of what makes you whole- your health, your sexuality, your spirituality, your creativity, your career, your relationships, the planet, and YOU. Dr. Rankin is currently redefining women’s health at the Owning Pink Center, her practice in Mill Valley, California. She is the author of the forthcoming What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist If She Was Your Best Friend (St. Martin's Press, September 2010).