Many women swear they have one, but a new review of 60 years of sex research shows science still can't definitively find the G-spot.
Researchers have used surveys, imaging scans and biopsies of women, all trying to locate and define the presumably orgasmic area on the vaginal wall known as the G-spot. Based on a review of 96 published studies, an Israeli and American research team came to one conclusion.
"Without a doubt, a discreet anatomic entity called the G-spot does not exist," said Dr. Amichai Kilchevsky, a urology resident at Yale-New Haven Hospital in Connecticut, and lead author of the review, published Jan. 12 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
Kilchevsky conceded the work is not "1,000 percent conclusive," allowing that other scientists could one day find something his team missed. But they would need new technology to do it, he said.
A half-century quest
The G-spot was named in honor of the late Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg, who in 1950 described a particularly sensitive 1- to 2-centimeter wide area on the vaginal wall. Gräfenberg's description put Western medicine on a quest to define and learn more about the spot, purported to be a few centimeters in from the vaginal opening, on the vaginal wall toward the front of a woman's body.
But Gräfenberg wasn't the first to write about such an erogenous zone. The Kamasastra and Jayamangala scripts dating back to 11th century India describe a similar sensitive area, according to the new study.
Modern surveys of women on the subject only confounded the search. From a review of 29 surveys and observational studies, Kilchevsky concluded that a majority of women believe a G-spot actually exists, although some of those women also say they can't locate it.
Other researchers have looked for physical evidence. Biopsies of tissue taken from the vaginal wall often find more nerve endings in the area of the purported G-spot than in other regions of the vaginal wall. But Kilchevsky and his colleagues also found biopsy studies with inconclusive results, and the authors point out that sensitivity in the human body isn't determined by the number of nerve endings alone.
One 2008 study used ultrasound imaging to explore the vaginal wall of women, and found evidence of thicker tissue in the area of the G-spot among women who reported having vaginal orgasms. Women who said they had never had vaginal orgasms had thinner tissue in that area. However, other imaging studies included in Kilchevsky's review couldn't find a conclusive G-spot.
Ultimately, Kilchevsky said he hopes his conclusions support women who worry they can't find the G-spot at home.
"Women who can't achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration don't have anything wrong with them," he said.
Kilchevsky doesn't think women who claim to have a G-spot are crazy either. "What they're likely experiencing is a continuation of the clitoris," he said. G-spot skeptics often point out that the tissue of the clitoris extends into the body, behind it where the G-spot would be located.
One study may yield clues
One study in the review kept "the possibility of a discrete G-spot viable," according to Kilchevsky.
A Rutgers University research team recently asked several women to stimulate themselves in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine. Brain scans showed stimulating the clitoris, vagina and cervix lit up distinct areas of the women's sensory cortex. This means the brain registered distinct feelings between stimulating the clitoris, the cervix and the vaginal wall – where the G-spot is famed to be.
Barry Komisaruk, the lead author of the fMRI study and professor of psychology at Rutgers University, advocates calling it the G-area, or G-region, instead.
"I think that the bulk of the evidence shows that the G-spot is not a particular thing. It's not like saying, 'What is the thyroid gland?'" Komisaruk said. "The G-spot is more of a thing like New York City is a thing. It's a region, it's a convergence of many different structures."
Komisaruk said that pressing on the area proclaimed to be the G-spot also presses the urethra and a structure called Skene's gland, which is analogous to the male prostate.
"Each of those areas have different nerve sites," said Komisaruk. "I think there's good enough data that a lot of women feel that that is a particularly sensitive region."
Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of "Great in Bed" (DK Publishing, 2011), pointed out that ambiguity is nothing new in sexual research.
"I'm not sure why some people get caught up in this desire to find this anatomic thing that is the end all be all," Herbenick said.
Findings from the well-known Australian researcher Dr. Helen O'Connell show the vagina, clitoris and urethra may act as "clitoral complex," during sex, Herbenick said. Any time one of these parts is moved or stimulated, it moves and stimulates the others.
"We don't even have orgasm all figured out yet, I don't why we would expect to have the G-spot figured out," Herbenick said.
Pass it on: A new review of 60 years of evidence suggests that the G-spot doesn't exist.