The search for the G-spot is a bit like the sexual equivalent of searching for UFOs: rarely does a year goes by without a new study either confirming or disproving the existence of this small area just inside the vagina, which - to varying degrees - is a source of sexual pleasure for women.
It's not so much the pleasure-potential of the area that is in doubt, but rather whether the G-spot is an independent anatomic entity, or conversely, a part of the surrounding structure.
"The G-spot has been so difficult to identify because it is more of a
physiological change - akin to swallowing or urinating - than an
anatomic structure such as a nipple," said Dr. Irwin Goldstein,
editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, after a study was published in his journal in 2010.
Sex therapist Madeleine Castellanos says we should think of the G-spot, "as a chocolate-covered strawberry. The thin chocolate layer on the surface is like the smooth area of the vagina that often gets called the G-spot, but it's actually the strawberry underneath that has the substance - in this case the erectile tissue that fills with blood when a woman gets aroused and then makes the G-spot more prominent and noticeable."
Yet a new study published this week in The Journal of Sexual Medicine contends that the G-spot is indeed an independent anatomic structure. As the basis of his study, Dr. Adam Ostrzenski of the Institute of Gynecology in St. Petersburg, Florida, conducted a "stratum-by-stratum anterior vaginal wall dissection" on an 83-year-old cadaver.
But can a definitive conclusion really be proffered on the basis on a single cadaver?
Debby Herbenick, a research scientist at Indiana University and author of "Sex Made Easy," doesn't think so.
"Just because an anatomical entity was found in a cadaver doesn't mean that it's the G-spot. We don't know much about this part that was identified or whether she ever experienced pleasure during stimulation of this part of her vagina."
And according to Emily Nagoski, author of the "Good in Bed Guide to Female Orgasms," "Women's genitals vary from each other - in shape, size, and functioning. This variability is what has made it so challenging to prove conclusively the existence of the G-spot. G-spots vary from woman to woman, and they change in unpredictable ways across a woman's lifespan."
Dr. Ostrzenski says his new study "may lead to a better understanding and improvement of female sexual function." But he is also a driving force in the field of cosmetic gynecology, which, according to his website, "transforms female external genitalia appearance to look younger and more natural."
Many sexuality professionals consider the field controversial.
Along with vaginal rejuvenation and labiaplasty, g-spotplasty is also one of the many procedures offered by Dr. Ostrzenski. In the case of G-spot procedures, the goal is not cosmetic, but rather to enable women to experience the broader pleasures of G-spot stimulation that some may feel they're missing out on.
(Ostrzenski is not the only cosmetic surgeon to offer G-spot enhancement procedures: Dr. David Matlock developed the "G-shot," an injection which temporarily enlarges the area of the G-spot and purportedly enhances pleasure during sexual activity.)
But Herbenick says many of these procedures have little scientifically published research behind them. "Little is known about their risks, benefits or complications."
And what about the fact that so many women inconsistently orgasm from vaginal penetration alone and generally require clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm?
"I have this deep dread that women's magazines will decide that now women have no excuse for not having vaginal orgasms, when we know that only about a quarter to a third of women are reliably orgasmic from vaginal penetration alone," says Nagoski.
So now that we've found the G-spot, perhaps we should lose it again. Or at least enjoy it, without worrying about what it is or is not.