Friday Weird Science: Female Ejaculation

Earlier this week, the infamous Bora pointed Sci toward a New Scientist article on female ejaculation. The article is really interesting and worth checking out. But being a true sex science geek and a history geek as well, Sci turned to the lit. And today I present you with the man himself: Ernst Grafenberg, discoverer of the G spot, and, only slightly less well-known as the inventor of ‘the ring’ and its potential use in contraception.

It’s weird, historical science time.
Grafenberg, E. “The role of urethra in female orgasm”. The International Journal of Sexology, 1950.

Sci has been hit by a multitude of misfortunes since beginning this post. This includes spilling water on her cell phone, water on her computer, having an experiment fail, and being completely unable to find a really cute pair of sparkly ballet flats (should anyone happen to come across such awesomeness let me know where they can be had. Sci will take sequiny ruby slippers, or something else awesome and sparkly. She wear a size 8, and has had trouble finding cute cheap shoes in that size). But the worst thing of all: a total lack of wireless. She will cry and cover herself in sackcloth and ashes in an effort to appease the gods, and in the event that this does not have a positive result, the post will go up as soon as she can get to internet. Because she cares. Because of this, however, there will be no awesome links. I will find them and link them as soon as I can, but it may end up being later rather than sooner.
Where were we…right.
Reading older papers about sex is always a rather humorous, but kind of sad experience. It’s funny because, well, it’s funny. But it’s also sad to realize that people drew these silly conclusions, demonstrating both a lack of understanding (which could be explained by a lack of technique able to probe to phenomena), but also demonstrating how much they we either not listening, or not bothering to ask, what women really thought about sex. Of course, we’re all blinded by societal restrictions, and back in 1950, things were actually quite repressive. Many women grew up not really knowing what sex WAS, let alone how to obtain satisfaction from it. So I guess it’s not all that surprising.
So, in true historical form, the author starts out by noting that up to 80% of women are frigid. I think it says a lot in Grafenberg’s favor, however, that he thinks most of these “documented cases” are incorrect. He states that “genuine frigidity should be spoken of only if there is no response to any partner and in all situations”.
Gafenberg not only describes female ejactulation, he goes into a detailed decription of the female genetalia, and what exactly happens to them during arousal and orgasm.
This has to be one of the best papers I have ever read for getting some amazing quotes. Where to begin:
“One of my patients, who married early a very much older, rich man and had two children, pestered me persistently with questions as to why she could not experience an orgasm…I finally asked her, if she had tried sex relation with another male partner. No, was the answer and reflectively she left my office. The next day in the middle of the night, I was awakened by a telephone call and a familiar voice who did not give her name asked: “Doctor, are you there? You are right!”…I never had to answer any further sexual questions from her.
Oh, it gets BETTER:
“Hardenberg mentions that nerves have been demonstrated only inside the vagina in the anterior wall, proximate to the base of the clitoris. This I can confirm by my own experience of numerous women.”
Ah, Grafenberg, that ol’ womanizer. And of course, Grafenberg gave the G-spot its name, and its first description:
“An erotic zone always could be demonstrated on the anterior wall of the vagina along the course of the urethra.”

Some more modern studie
s have indicated that this area is most sensitive because women may have prostate tissue, similar to men. In men, the prostate wraps around the urethra, and is VERY sensitive to stimulation. In some women with a demonstrable amount of prostate tissue, this also appears to be the case. Unfortunately, the AMOUNT of prostate tissue in woman varies a great deal more than in men, and further studies need to confirm whether or not all women have the tissue at all.
Of course, with the prostate surrounding the urethra, it explains why some people like to insert things into the urethra, trying to get stimulation. Grafenberg, poor guy, apparently saw a lot of this, including two GIRLS who were trying it with hair pins (they got stuck), other girls who apparently used pencils (SPLINTERS, think of the SPLINTERS), and a solider who got lonely on duty and tried it with a RIFLE BULLET. Must have been very lonely. One can only ask what other things have been used, that just didn’t get caught and result in medical intervention.
Regardless of the prostate question, it is clear that the anterior wall (that’s the bit toward the front, directly behind the clitoris. And men, if you have to question where exactly the clitoris is, it’s probably about two inchesd away from where you think it is. Results may vary) of the vagina has something special about it. Grafenberg noticed that, during orgasm, the anterior wall of the vagina actually presses downward, against whatever is…in the vagina at the time.
Dr. G also notes that the urethra of women has some erectile tissue surrounding it, similar to that in men, though usually much reduced. In fact, clitoral erection, the swelling of the clitoris in response to physical stimulation, has been known for some time. He dismisses, however, the idea that the uterus performs a role in orgasm, and particularly speaks of an experiment which proves that female orgasm doesn’t cause the uterus to “suck in” semen. Apparently they studied this by having women put in a cervical cap filled with contrast oil, and then have some good sex. The contrast oil never made it up into the uterus or even past the cervix, implying that there wasn’t a lot of sucking going on.
But now, on to ejaculation.
Everyone knows that the vagina is capable of secreting lubricant, and that it is particularly lubricated during sexual exploits. In some women, a steady production of fluid during and a little after intercourse is all that you’re going to get. But in others, there is a “convulsory expulsion of fluids [that] occurs always that the acme of orgasm and simultaneously with it”. Apparently, for those exploring closely enough, large quantities (“large” is relative, it’s a few mLs, but that’s about equal to some volumes of male ejaculate) of fluid are coming not only out of the vagina, but out of the URETHRA. Of course, the first thing all the doctors thought was that the woman got overexcited and peed herself. While this can happen, please give us the benefit of the doubt and assume that we have more control than that in most cases. And recent studies have found that it’s not urine at all, rather it contains high levels of chemicals found in…ejaculate.
Grafenberg hypothesized as much, and believed that the secretions originated from something adjacent to the anterior wall of the vagina. Should the prostate hypothesis turn out to be true, the prostate could be where the fluid is emerging. In males, the prostate produces some of the chemicals in ejaculate (obviously, the chemicals that are not sperm, which come from the testes). Dr. G also noted that the ejaculate must be for some purpose other than lubrication, because if lubrication was required, you’d think it would come at the beginning of intercourse, rather than the climax.
But what is the purpose of female ejaculation? No one really knows. It’s fairly clear that not all women CAN ejaculate, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of selective pressure for female ejaculation. It’s possible that it’s a by-product of similar development between male and female body plans. However, it’s also very possible that it could have a use. Some studies have postulated that, as the fluids that come out have some antimicrobial properties, the gush of fluid could help clear bacteria from the urethra and vagina, bacteria which may have gained entrance during sexual intercourse.
So how does Grafenberg finish his treatise on the female genetalia and orgasm? With a description of some good positions, of course. He recommends the female on top as a way to better stimulate “erotogenic” parts, particularly getting the clitoris and vagina at the same time. He also mentions that missionary is less likely to stimulate the G-spot, as the penis doesn’t always have the steep upward angle to hit the anterior vaginal wall, unless of course the female can throw her legs over the male’s shoulders, which might improve the angle.
But Grafenberg believes that the best position is the one that some think might be most “natural”: doggie style. And this is where we get to the best quote: “the stimulating effect of this kind of intercourse must not be explained away…by the melodious movements of the tesiticles like a knocker on the clitoris, but is merely caused by the direct thrust of the penis towards the urethral erotic zone”. “Melodious movement”?! Hey, I mean whatever words give meaning and all, but “melodious” is not really the word I would have picked…

16 Responses

  1. “by the melodious movements of the testicles like a knocker on the clitoris”

  2. You’re a treasure :o)

  3. Not to spoil the party atmosphere or anything, but if women have significant amounts of prostate tissue does that mean they can also get prostate (or g-spot) cancer?

  4. Hmm, growing up on a diet of Carry On films led me to believe it was women who had ‘knockers’. How wrong I was 🙂

  5. “if women have significant amounts of prostate tissue does that mean they can also get prostate (or g-spot) cancer?”
    Random related question- what’s the approximate androgen load in the Nuvaring?
    now I wanna make a cell line from this tissue and bathe it in testosterone to see if I can make it migrate in matrigel.
    Also Sci, I can’t believe you didn’t mention the NO!

  6. csrster: G-spot cancer would indeed be a horrible way to die. I can tell you that amounts of prostate tissue in women vary drastically, far more so than they do in men, and that a good number of women may not have ANY. So though the presence of the tissue itself may make it a target for cancer, it’s only going to be in some. Also, prostate cancer in men is usually testosterone sensitive, and women of course have far lower levels of testosterone. So while women with prostate tissue could indeed be at risk, the risk is far far lower than in men. It would probably be even more rare than men who get breast cancer. However, I’m speaking of possibilities, I don’t actually KNOW. I can try and look it up if you’re curious.

  7. …with the prostate surrounding the urethra, it explains why some people like to insert things into the urethra, trying to get stimulation.

    The prostate does indeed surround the urethra, our Intelligent Designer having had a hangover that day, but it’s several inches removed from the end of the penis. Whatever stimulation people (at least people equipped with penises) may get from inserting things there, the prostate isn’t likely to be involved. Prostate stimulation is much more easily accomplished through another orifice.

  8. Now see, I had decided to scrap the review I started of the Deborah Sundahl video, in which she discusses awakening “your glorious feminine fountain,” and wait until I got the Nina Hartley video that doesn’t go in so much for the sex woo. Mainly because as reasonably informative as it is, the whole discussion she gets into about getting that aural energy flowing, to enhance the female ejaculation kind of left me a little…Lets just say it isn’t much of a turn on…
    But now I can see that I shouldn’t wait until I get the next video…
    I do want to note that there is an argument to be had that it is possible for all women to ejaculate, but for some it is harder than for others. It is also important to note that for most women who manage to ejaculate, it takes some effort – exercise, if you will. And while it’s true that most men’s prostate tissue is probably more sensitive than that of women, male prostate stimulation comes with it’s own set of problems which are pretty solidly in line with the problems of women. I am going to have trouble finding the prof, but there is a women’s studies PhD who theorizes that the problems that women often run into are actually quite solidly related to the problems that men do…(I plan on covering her discussion of this in my post on exploring your partner’s body)
    I think that the biggest issue that women run into with this, is that the G-spot is part and parcel with the musculature that controls urination. The muscles being used to help push the ejaculate out are the same that are used to push the urine out. And stimulating the G-spot causes sensations that are very much like the feeling you get when you have to pee. It get’s more complicated too – to really start sensitizing the G-spot, to help push it forward for stimulation, you need to exercise the same muscles you use to hold and release the urine stream.
    For men this process is not as difficult, because men are already used to sexual stimulation that is utilizing those muscles and ejaculating through the urethra. So much of the strangeness that comes with prostate stimulation is already dealt with. The only real difficulty, is getting past that feeling like this stimulation is actually making you need to pee. But this feeling passes fairly quickly and honestly, when it has gotten to that point for a man, it would be virtually impossible for a mental block to keep pretty much automatic responses from happening – the tissue is simply that overwhelmingly sensitive as a baseline. This is also why finally getting to pee, after holding it for way, way too long, can take on almost orgasmic qualities – seriously…
    For women, this tissue is rather different. There are a very few women for whom this tissue is naturally, even close to as sensitive as the male prostate tissue. And there are many women for whom this tissue isn’t very sensitive at all. That does not mean that women in the latter group are never going to be able to ejaculate – it just means that they need to work at sensitizing their G-spot. And while it is almost certain that some women will never be able to – I would tend to think that such women are a rarity. For most, it is just a matter of learning to stimulate it properly (i.e. the right way for you – which is a very individualized thing) and working it – it will become more sensitive, the more you play with it (or you and your partner play with it:). It can easily get to the point where certain types of intercourse will cause ejaculation – which during intercourse can be an incredibly intense experience for both you and your partner…With some practice, partners can learn to stimulate the male’s prostate, when the female starts to ejaculate…Two words – maximum expansion….
    This can be intense enough to cause hallucinations – for both partners.

  9. Is it wrong that I’m wildly aroused after reading this. Reading about science gets me hot enough, but the science of sex??? Look out.

  10. lola –
    I would say no, absolutely not. Although context can make a difference, I am totes capable of getting rather excitable about science that has nothing to do with sex – especially if my very brilliant GF is the one talking about it…
    But at the same time – context is important. I am also totally capable of watching instructional sex videos (which I have been watching a lot of lately) and not finding it the least bit arousing, because I am watching them with the intent of reviewing and/or using small portions as discussion aids. Now if I was watching them with GF and not because I need to review them, I might feel differently – but even watching women “discovering their sacred feminine fountain” wasn’t doing much for me…

  11. I first heard about Grafenberg’s work through the pioneering studies conducted by Dr. Harry Reems and Dr. Ginger Lynn.

  12. You write that it’s fairly clear that not all women can ejaculate… does that imply that not all women have a G-spot, especially if the G-spot turns out to be prostate tissue?
    If there’s such a thing as selection for pleasure, you’d think all women would have one.

  13. “If there’s such a thing as selection for pleasure, you’d think all women would have one.”
    considering we’ve only been “selecting for pleasure” for around 50 years, I hardly think that’s enough time to evolve g-spots in every woman.

  14. Sci would like to take this opportunity to point out that your first-hand accounts of your sexual exploits are not things I care about. There are special sites for that, but this is not one of them.

  15. Apparently, for those exploring closely enough, large quantities (“large” is relative, it’s a few mLs, but that’s about equal to some volumes of male ejaculate
    Having shared my bed for many delightful years with a lady who had very strong ejaculations I can assure you that the quantities are “very much” larger than those of the male ejaculation and considerably more than “a few mls”!

  16. I witnessed a woman ejaculate with orgasm. It was horrendous. Made the wet spot made by men look redundant. Truly she wrecked the bed and should have warned us that a rubber sheet was needed. She thought it was incredibly funny that she could do this every time she orgasmed. Even though there are sites that purport to teach women how to do it there is no way one this earth that I would want to learn. I much prefer my more mundane continuous lubrication that keeps the sex constantly pleasurable.

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