The struggle to find the G-spot and achieve the mythical "vaginal orgasm" is real. Books have been written on it; sex therapists have explained how to stimulate it; even Cosmopolitan magazine has tried to instruct dutiful readers how to find it.
But a review published this week in the journal Clinical Anatomy may just halt all of these fruitless quests with the conclusion that neither the elusive G-spot nor the vaginal orgasm exist.
"Like most things that are about sex, people get very hot and bothered on either end of this, but I really can't say from my clinical practice that I'm at all convinced that there is a G-spot," Dr. Gail Saltz, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital and author of The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead to a Better Life (who was not involved in the new review), told The Huffington Post. "I think that a lot of women are very frustrated trying to attain something that may not be attainable."
Scientists have yet to prove the existence of a G-spot.
In their Clinical Anatomy article, Italian researchers Vincenzo Puppo and Giulia Puppo stress the importance of using the correct terminology when discussing female sexual organs and women's capacity for orgasm. They write that the so-called G-spot, a term that refers to a pleasurable spot located inside the vagina in the pelvic urethra, doesn't exist -- rather, every woman has the capacity to orgasm if her clitoris is stimulated. As such, the term "vaginal orgasm" is incorrect and "female orgasm" should be used instead, they argue.
The original research on G-spots, led by Addiego, who coined the term after German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg in 1981, was based on a woman who "identified an erotically sensitive spot, palpable through the anterior wall of her vagina." When the area was touched, it became larger and the woman reported increased sensitivity, pleasure and a desire to urinate -- all of which led Addiego to conclude "the orgasms she experienced in response to the Gräfenberg stimulation felt much the same."
However, the new review points out that the woman also reported that, at the time of testing, she had been diagnosed with a grade one cystocele, a condition in which "the supportive tissue between a woman's bladder and vaginal wall weakens and stretches, allowing the bladder to bulge into the vagina." The resulting side effects of cystocele, the authors argue, make the woman a poor candidate for the basis of a sexual theory with flimsy subsequent medical proof.
Neglecting the clitoris and emphasizing the G-spot may be why so many women don't orgasm.
Despite previous studies, the researchers say the vagina has no anatomical relationship with the clitoris. They write: "The correct and simple anatomical term to describe the cluster of erectile tissues (i.e. clitoris, vestibular bulbs and pars intermedia, labia minora, and corpus spongiosum of the female urethra) responsible for female orgasm, is 'female penis.'"
While the concept of a "female penis" may sound strange, the clitoris and penis have quite a few similarities when it comes to sexual pleasure, starting with their shape (see the illustration above), and that increased blood flow causes their spongy tissues to engorge as orgasm approaches. The problem is, much of the unerect clitoris isn't visible -- it may be up to 9 centimeters long, according to a seminal paper on the clitoris published by Australian urologist Helen O’Connell in 1998.
The majority of women don't experience orgasms during intercourse, so having a clear understanding of what's going on down there -- and how to refer to it all -- is important for women seeking sexual pleasure, said Saltz, especially when it comes to wiping out the shame that comes with feeling "broken" because of an inability to orgasm.
The clitoris "is not just sticking out in plain view with a clear directions manual, so that means that a woman has to be familiar with herself, having looked and understood and experienced," Saltz said. "Then she has to transmit that to her partner in a way that's comfortable for both of them, and it isn't always easy."
But mapping out female sexual pleasure is an issue that extends beyond climax.
The new research adds to the already-fervent debate on female sexual pleasure, which spans beyond the medical sphere and into the realms of social activism and art.
Doctors offer G-spot-enhancing procedures, a practice Jeffrey Spike, a bioethicist at Florida State University's College of Medicine, equated with "medical fraud" in a 2007 interview, adding that "the G-spot belongs in the same category as angels and unicorns." (The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists also called out these procedures for the lack of data on efficacy and safety.)
Aside from clinical opponents of the "vaginal orgasm," artist Sophia Wallace attempts to dispel misinformation about female sexual organs through her "Cliteracy" project, which uses street art and her "100 Laws Of Cliteracy" to inform women and men that female sexual pleasure is not only possible, but an important step toward gender parity in society.
Women need to prioritize finding out what works for them.
Since the male penis itself cannot stimulate the clitoris during intercourse, the researchers recommend masturbation, cunnilingus, partner masturbation or using a finger during vaginal/anal intercourse to make sure the clitoris isn't forgotten. But Saltz also noted that much of the recent data on female arousal centers around how a woman feels psychologically, rather than physically -- feeling "loved," "attractive" or "safe."
As for the women who do claim to achieve orgasm from "G-spot" stimulation? More power to you, Saltz said (well, in a nutshell). But she also said that being so singularly goal-oriented toward orgasm may not be the most direct route to pleasure.
"The way that we talk about it in society, many women feel that [orgasm] is what they're supposed to do and that that would be the supreme success of the encounter," Saltz said. "But most women do report that it's the closeness; it's the shared intimacy; and, of course, the physical arousal is pleasurable by itself."
That said, Saltz added that she was surprised that these findings debunking the "vaginal orgasm" are considered news at this point.
"The G-spot is an issue and there are definitely people who feel strongly that it's real," Saltz said. "But I think that women who are fairly sexually educated know that their clitoris is where it's at, so to speak."
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