In 1905, Sigmund Freud, known as the father of psychoanalysis, had a theory that women who could not experience vaginal orgasms were psychologically immature. He reasoned that progression from clitoral orgasms before puberty to vaginal orgasms after puberty coincided with the development of femininity and maturity; thus, it was undesirable for a woman to be unable to reach orgasms through vaginal intercourse.
Although Freud's theory was not based on any scientifically derived data, his view perpetuated for a long time and led countless women to believe they were inadequate and sexually immature. It also started a cultural shift in a preoccupation with trying to locate the source of women's sexual pleasure.
Thankfully, science stepped in. We now know, based on a 2011 study from the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Twin Registry, that less than 25 per cent of sexually active women have orgasms from vaginal intercourse, yet more than half of women reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation during masturbation. Simply put, more women reach orgasm through clitoral touch than with vaginal stimulation and this is entirely normal. Also, among those women who are orgasmic with vaginal stimulation, it is possible that simultaneous contact with the clitoris may be responsible for their orgasms.
The rabbit vibrator, which became a bestseller after it appeared on an episode of Sex and the City, capitalizes on simultaneous vaginal and clitoral stimulation. The rabbit was marketed as being able to stimulate the nickel-sized area located in the vagina, halfway between the back of the pubic bone and the cervix, known as the G-spot. Although Dr. Ernst Grafenberg described this area as producing erogenous feelings when stimulated back in 1950, it was not until 1982 that Dr. Beverly Whipple and Dr. John Perry called it the G-spot (after Grafengerg), after discovering it while teaching women pelvic-floor exercises. They found that some women could ejaculate a fluid while the G-spot was stimulated. Since that time, women who emit fluid following vaginal orgasm have allowed scientists to study the contents of the fluid, proving that it was not urine.
But in 2012, a group of scientists from Israel raised doubt that the G-spot was a distinct entity in the anterior wall of the vagina. After reviewing all of the studies exploring the G-spot, they concluded that a precise "spot" that unlocks women's sexual ecstasy does not exist. And this led to the search for other spots.
Are there other spots?
Yes. The U-spot has been described as a patch of tissue just above woman's urethra that, when stimulated, can produce pleasurable sensations. Unfortunately, it has not been the topic of scientific research yet. The A-spot, on the other hand, has been found to be a sexually responsive area close to the cervix on the anterior vaginal wall. Most recently, the use of imaging techniques, such as MRI, has found a much larger complex of structures likely to play a role in women's physical sexual pleasure. This complex includes the clitoris, urethra and anterior vaginal wall, and this clitourethrovaginal (CUV) complex, which varies in size and location across women, should replace the G-spot.
So rather than one distinct location of increased pleasure and sensitivity, it seems that there may be a variety of locations along the anterior wall of the vagina, and likely including a complex of neighbouring structures, that constitute a G-spot – or spots.
What does this mean for you?
The G-spot has been the centre of a multimillion-dollar industry aimed at developing vibrators, tools, books, instructional videos and, yes, even injections (G-Shot) to help women (and their partners) achieve better orgasms. Most of these have not been scientifically evaluated as to whether they improve women's sexual response – despite the marketing, which would have you believe otherwise.
Rather than searching for a single spot that elicits sexual pleasure and orgasm, women should be encouraged to explore a variety of locations elsewhere on the body that might evoke sexual sensations.
Women who reach orgasm through clitoral stimulation might introduce the Coital Alignment Technique (coitalalignmenttechnique.com), which involves some repositioning of a partner during missionary-position sex, so that a partner's pubic bone stimulates the woman's clitoris during sex, thereby increasing the likelihood of orgasms during sex.
Erogenous touch is not the only gateway to reaching orgasm: Research with women suffering a spinal-cord injury and other neurological traumas indicates that some can learn to reach orgasm through fantasy and visualization alone.
However, if you find yourself searching for a spot, may I suggest that you focus on the "B-spot" – the largest sex organ is the brain.
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Editor's note: Sigmund Freud's work in women's sexuality occurred in the early 1900s. Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article.