Today’s post is going up late due to some truly massive equipment fail in Sci’s lab. Sci very much wishes that equipment would have enough respect to at least wait until her second cup of coffee to explode and throw carcinogens all over the lab.
Anyway, in her inbox the other day, Sci got this from a friend of the blog: “The G-spot ‘doesn’t appear to exist’, say researchers“.
(XKCD is always on top of this)
Apparently it’s generating a lot of controversy. So Sci, of course, had to get her hands on this paper. Which took a lot of doing. Thus, for the benefit of future generations, she provides the following citation:
Burri et al. “Genetic and Environmental Inﬂuences on self-reported G-Spots in
Women: A Twin Study” J Sex. Med, 2010 (it’s still yet to come out, but will be soon, one hopes).
There, people, was that so hard? At least you now know where to look!
So Sci has some issues with this study. Let’s get to it.
So the first question you might have is: why the heck was this a twin study? The answer is pretty simple. Basically, the idea is that, if something is anatomical phenomenon that develops normally (like, say, eye color or the G-spot), then it has a genetic basis. If it has a genetic basis, then those with the same genes (like identical twins) should have the same incidence of the anatomy. Identical twins should have the same eye color, and the same G-spot. However, fraternal twins, who do NOT have the same genes, have normal sibling heritability, and thus, if the G-spot is a straight up genetic linked trait, identical twins should always have the same incidence of the G-spot, and fraternal twins should have the same incidence about 50% of the time.
What these scientists set out to do was to determine if the G-spot had a high incidence of similarity among identical twins. The idea is that if it’s a normal anatomical feature, if you have it, your identical twin will have it, too. So they took 1,800 sets of twins (some identical, some not), and gave them a survey asking if they had a G-spot. This included the direct question “do you have a G-spot” as well as questions like “how often do you experience orgasm via penetrative vaginal intercourse” (which presumably would hit the G-spot).
And they couldn’t come up with a correlation. About half of the women questioned said they did indeed have a G-spot (they also reported more satisfaction with their sexual partners), but there was no direct correlation across twins. Sue had it, but her identical twin didn’t. The authors concluded that there was no genetic basis for a G-spot. If you extrapolate this, you come up with the headline “NO SUCH THING AS A G-SPOT”.
And here’s where Sci runs into problems.
Let’s start with the study itself.
Some problems Sci found:
1) The average age of the women questioned was 55. You might not think this is a problem, but some of them may have undergone menopause, and thus might changes in hormones which could drastically affect their ability to orgasm, G-spot or not. In addition, you also have to deal with social factors. Many younger women are far more in touch with their sexual needs than those raised a generation ago, and this could affect how many women in the study actually WORKED to find their G-spot.
2) They eliminated all homosexual and bisexual women from the study. I mostly just think this point is silly. They wanted to limit the results to “vaginal intercourse via penile stimulation”, but if the G-spot anatomically exists, who’s to say it can only be stimulated by a penis? Who’s to say the penis is even the most effective instrument for this?
3) The biggest Problem: THEY NEVER DEFINED THE G-SPOT.
This is where Sci gets a little annoyed. Many women probably know what they think the G-spot is supposed to be, but WHO exactly has the correct definition? I think this is a really important point, as I think many women have a very inflated and incorrect notion of what the G-spot might be and what it produces. Some information for the masses:
The G-spot, first described by Ernst Granfenberg in 1950, is hypothesized (not proven yet) to be a group of sensitive nerves along the anterior (that’s the front) wall of the vagina. Other groups have hypothesized that they sensitivity of the area is due to the presence of residual prostate tissue in some women (the prostate in men surrounds the urethra, which in women is anterior to the vagina, hence the possible placement), and that stimulation of this area can lead, not only to orgasm, but also to female ejaculation.
So here’s the issue. Any woman who’s looked at a Cosmo has seen the headlines, and see the crap they have to say about what a G-spot is. Thus, unless you define what the G-spot is supposed to be, the results you’re going to get from a survey saying “do you have a G-spot” are going to be pretty variable. Many women may not have even looked for it. Some women may think it’s a magic button to orgasm, and figure if they don’t orgasm instantly, they don’t have one. This probably isn’t the case. It may be a highly sensitive area, but probably doesn’t just magically cause an orgasm.
Further, if some women are capable of orgasm and ejaculation from stimulation of the G-spot, they might never even get that far. Ejaculation in women is emission of a substance via the urethra during orgasm. Translation: it feels to many people, when you’re getting there, that you’re about to PEE. Most women would rather die than pee themselves during sex, and may not recognize the signs of something else happening, and thus may attempt to cease stimulation of the area. Not only that, highly sensitive areas, like the G-spot is purported to be, may register as ticklish rather than erotic, unless stimulated in a certain way.
So my problems with the study boil down to this: they may have asked the wrong set of questions. The main questions should not be “do you have orgasms resulting from only penile intercourse” and “do you have a g-spot”, but “do you have a sensitive spot on the anterior wall of the vagina which, when stimulated by whatever method, may bring you to orgasm”. The women may not know what the G-spot is and how to find it or stimulate it. I personally think you’d need a sizable clinical study studying the possible placement of the G-spot in women to determine what we’re dealing with, before you go about giving surveys as to genetic incidence. I hope there’s someone working on this.
And now, let’s move on to the media
So, what did this study say? Technically, it said that they couldn’t find a genetic link in a survey for the G-spot, so there might be some problems. These problems could include: there’s no such thing, they didn’t define it correctly, or even possibly, the G-spot is not what we think it is. The media looked at this and said “OMFG THERE’S NO G-SPOT!!!!!”
Basically, they took a study that wasn’t particularly informative, and made it less so. Might make for some good controversy and some interesting articles, but it doesn’t make for…the truth. Can we work on that whole “truth” thing? The reality is, a study that didn’t really directly assess the physical presence of a G-spot and the definition of a G-spot, determined there was no genetic basis for a G-spot, based on questioning a bunch of people who may or may not have been accurately informed as to what a G-spot was. The problem is, the media here was not after the truth of the existence of the G-spot. They were after the CONTROVERSY over the existence of the G-spot.
Sci’s only hope is that now someone will do a real physical study to take a look at whether it really does exist and what anatomy it arises from. You may be assured it will make for more trumpeting headlines.
Andrea Virginia Burri, MSc, Lynn Cherkas, PhD, and Timothy D. Spector, MD (2010). Genetic and Environmental Inﬂuences on self-reported G-Spots in
Women: A Twin Study Journal of Sexual Medicine