The press release proclaims “Study Confirms Anatomic Existence of G-Spot.” The study itself is titled “G-Spot Anatomy: A New Discovery.” It was just published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine. The author, Adam Ostrzenski, is an “internationally renowned gynecologic surgeon” with multiple degrees (MD, PhD, Dr Hab) and many peer-reviewed articles listed in PubMed.
The G-spot, or Gräfenberg Spot, is an area on the anterior wall of the vagina that can be stimulated to produce sexual excitement, stronger orgasms, and maybe even female ejaculation. Its existence is questionable. Wikpedia has an extensive articleexplaining the controversy and the published evidence, pro and con, with links to the original sources. You can read more than you ever wanted to know about it there, so I won’t bother trying to repeat it here. A 2012 review of the G-spot literature concluded:
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.
Dr. Ostrzenski claims to have found the G-spot and taken its picture (above). Believers in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster have pictures too. They even had “Bigfoot hair” that later turned out to be synthetic wig fibers. Ostrzenski’s “proof” is no more credible than theirs.
This “discovery” was based on dissecting out the pictured structure in the cadaver of one (yes, only one !) 83 year old woman who died of head trauma. The dissection was performed in Warsaw, Poland, but I will scrupulously refrain from making any Polish jokes. The author declared it was a G-spot based on visual inspection of the specimen alone; he said it was an 8.1 mm sac-like structure with a head, body, and a rope-like tail that disappeared into surrounding tissues. After excision, it could be stretched to 33 mm. He said the walls of the structure “resembled fibroconnective tissues and resembled erectile tissues.” Both? Apparently he didn’t even bother to take the most obvious, rudimentary next step of examining slices of the specimen under a microscope (with appropriate staining) to determine what kind of tissue it was. One wonders if he even preserved the specimen in formalin so histological study might still be possible. And he doesn’t tell us whether he had tried to find it in other cadavers and failed before this “success.”
Visual inspection of one autopsy specimen? How could he possibly know what it was that he had found? Is this a G-spot structure or something else? During embryological development of the genitourinary system there are structures that form and are reabsorbed: could this be a left-over remnant of that process? Could it be a tumor? A variant of normal anatomy having nothing to do with sexual response? Something else? Why didn’t he look for it in a second autopsy (or, preferably, a whole series) before rushing into print? And even if he could document the existence of a never-before-described anatomical feature, wouldn’t it take something more than simple observation to determine that it was the G-spot?
A Big Oops
In the discussion section of his article, Ostrzenski makes an embarrassing mistake: he claims that the G-spot gene has been identified and has been already incorporated into a GeneChip microarray. That struck me as odd. How could they have identified a gene for a structure whose very existence was in doubt?
The reference Ostrzenski provides for this claim doesn’t support it. In that reference, G-spot does not mean what he thinks it means. By “G-spot” they don’t mean anything to do with vaginal anatomy: they mean DNA probes containing a contiguous run of 4 or more guanines (base pair nucleotides). They make that clear in the second sentence of the abstract. He read carelessly, and his foolish mistake should have been caught by his editors and peer-reviewers. If I thought to question it and look it up, why didn’t they?
Even If It Isn’t Real, It’s Profitable
Whether or not the G-spot exists, you can buy a sex toy, a curved vibrator, specially designed to stimulate it. And there is even a plastic surgery procedure called G-spot amplification to enhance its sensitivity. The ACOG has spoken out against this operation. Guess who performs and teaches this surgical procedure, along with a number of other questionable vaginal procedures?
Yep, Ostrzenski himself.
The Hype Begins
CBC News, Science Daily and other news outlets promptly proclaimed “G spot anatomy found.” The very day this study was released, I got a PR e-mail announcing it, proclaiming that the existence of the G-spot had been proven, and offering me an interview with a doctor who would explain “how the discovery of the G-spot will change sex for men and women.” A doctor who, incidentally, does not inspire my confidence because she also happens to prescribe bioidentical hormones and practice anti-aging medicine. The Huffington Post wasn’t so sure this study would settle the debate but commented that
perhaps knowing it and understanding it goes beyond anything you can dissect or measure. It’s an untouchable pathway to bliss and the cosmos, making it something so much more.
In short, this published study is a junk-science travesty perpetrated by a researcher who has a vested interest in proving there is a G-spot so he can justify operating on it. No one deserving the name of scientist would claim to have discovered a new normal anatomical structure based on a visual inspection of one specimen with no further investigation. The author, the editor of the journal, and the peer-reviewers should all be ashamed of themselves.
In contrast to the vaccine/autism manufactroversy, there is a legitimate controversy about the existence of the G-Spot. We don’t have enough evidence to confidently conclude either that it does or doesn’t exist. At this point, I wouldn’t even venture an opinion.
I would argue that it really doesn’t matter very much. Clearly, some women respond to anterior vaginal stimulation, others don’t. This might have other explanations: conditioning, suggestion, experience, variations during embryologic development, the ability of any highly innervated area to trigger orgasm in some individuals, or other factors.
Women might think not being able to find their G-Spot means they are defective. Pursuing the elusive G-Spot might engage men in fruitless hunting expeditions when they could be finding other ways to please their partners and concentrating on spontaneous enjoyment rather than prescribed techniques.
Poor men! They have a hard enough time just finding the clitoris.
This article was originally published in the Science-Based Medicine Blog.