G-spot "discovery," gender, and good science reporting

Dr Petra Boynton has a very good critical essay examining the media coverage of a study that "proves" the anatomical existence of a G-spot.

The take home message is
- there are numerous conflicting messages about the g-spot, many of them from papers with limitations, all recently published in the same journal
- this is not cutting edge sex research nor the prime focus of what sex research is
- this distracts us from the exciting and wonderful stories and studies within sexology – and people’s daily lives
- this makes people anxious about their bodies, sexual experiences and sexual performance
- it gives legitimacy for untested cosmetic gynaecological procedures to be promoted uncritically by the media
- it implies orgasm is solely a physiological experience that is located in specific areas of the genitals (in cis women)
- it suggests particular kinds of orgasm are superior to others or that you should train your body to orgasm in particular ways/locations
- this discourages us to celebrate sexual diversity and pleasure in our genitals and elsewhere, and find what excites and arouses us

G-spot discovery, medicalization and media hype


  1. Dr. Ruth Westheimer once said that the important thing about the G-spot wasn’t whether it exists, but that lots of people were trying hard to find it.

  2. Most important bit for me was that the author of the paper in question was a cosmetic gynecological surgeon who performs some relatively untested cosmetic gynaecological procedures, and who trains other surgeons in three day seminars on techniques including  G-Spot Fat Augmentation and G-Spot Surgical Augmentation.  So he has a horse in the race. Or some skin in the game, so to speak.

    1. I can’t find a link at the moment, but a couple of decades ago, there was a doctor known far and wide as The Gynecologist From Hell.  He mutilated hundreds or thousands of women by trying to snug them up and jury-rigging their clitorides into their vaginas, generally causing complete sexual dysfunction and an inability to pee without a morphine shot.

      1.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_C._Burt

        He sounds like a horrible bastard who certainly belongs in the Special Hell. 

  3. It should be noted that Dr. Boynton is a psychologist, not an MD, and a self-described “agony aunt”. The paper that sparked her essay is on anatomy. Even the egregious “Dr. Laura” with her doctorate in physiology might  have better academic credentials to critique a paper on anatomy.

    Much of Dr. Boynton’s essay came off to me as concern trolling and otherwise constantly using logical fallacies and factual errors. Perhaps her overall thesis is good, but the essay is so badly reasoned that it could make many readers reject her valid points.

  4. Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
    Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
    The years go by, as quickly as a wink
    Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think

    -Kevin Gardner/Guy Lombard0

  5. “- this discourages us to celebrate sexual diversity and pleasure in our genitals and elsewhere, and find what excites and arouses us”

    And spook the living daylight out of some…

  6. @Ultan (getting a system error when I reply directly to you)

    Boynton has a PhD in applied human sexuality, not a PsyD, and her CV is nothing to sneer at.  I don’t have 40 publications in peer reviewed journal, if you do, go ahead and continue to sneer.  I didn’t agree with all her arguments or conclusions, but the paper on one deceased individual didn’t convince me that it holds true for all women.  His article would have been more convincing if it weren’t a single author and a single cadaver. 

    1. OK, but, at least part of her point seems to be that it’s better not to know. 

      It’s that attitude (which is very anti-science) which is a turn-off and which made Ultan think of concern trolling and poor reasoning, regardless of whether or not some of her arguments are valid (which some are).

      1.  Concern trolling towards her area of science I might agree with, anti-science I wouldn’t agree with.  She gave several suggestions on how it could have been a better study, including that studies on more women, women with different orientations and men and more investigations that include living people rather than cadaveric studies.  Which of course is her field of research.  If a surgeon stated he had found the P-spot based on previous conjecture and the dissection of a single cadaver, and it so happens that this surgeon was also advocating, performing and training other surgeons for a surgical enhancement for men, I might also cross my legs uncomfortably and suggest further research on the topic was called for, and maybe we should have some more “let’s talk about this” kind of research, as well as some careful in vivo  research, rather than saying, yeah great study, cut away.  Medicine does at times devise an ingenious solution to a non-existant problem. 

  7. I’m wondering why there hasn’t been this kind of brouhaha in the scientific community and media over the clitoris. I mean, it’s a lot easier to reach…

    1. The g-spot is basically the clitoris, just the inside part.  Well, and the urethral sponge.

      What, you didn’t know the clitoris had an inside part?  I’m guessing you didn’t, since you said “it’s a lot easier to reach.”  The glans is, certainly. The crura are not.

  8. ” this is not cutting edge sex research nor the prime focus of what sex research is”

    Yeah, but it’s sex research everybody can do. “Baby! Lie down for Science!”

  9. This whole debate is ridiculous…  because we really do have this anatomical information, and we can stop arguing about it already.  What feels good to people varies, but the anatomy tends to be pretty similar, and cis women generally have all the bits in question.  The g-spot is real, thanks.  The clitoris is also a lot more than the glans – that’s just the part that you can see.  It extends down inside the body and splits into two “horns” that essentially curl around the vagina.  G-spot stimulation usually means stimulation of the urethral sponge and the internal clitoris.  This is not news.

    It’s like being all excited about discovering the existence of the prostate gland.  Or, hell, the shaft of the penis.  There’s nothing mystical about cis-female anatomy any more than there is about cis-male anatomy.  And ultimately, the point of understanding a partner’s sexual anatomy is making that partner feel good, right?  So let’s just get on with that already, understanding that having the same bits doesn’t mean you like the same things.  There’s no one right way to get off, whatever your anatomy.

    Anyway, it drives me nuts.  Yes, I have anatomy, and so do other cis women, and theirs is like mine, and some of its parts make sexual pleasure possible.  People can stop claiming to have “found” my anatomy any day now.  It wasn’t lost.  I keep wanting to see the parallel headline:  Science Finds Evidence of Prostate Gland!  Men Genuinely Enjoy Anal Sex.


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