The female orgasm is a scientific gray area that continues to elude the greatest minds of our time. It wasn’t until 1990, and yes, you read that right, that the complete anatomy of the human clitoris was found by Australia’s first female urologist, Helen O’Connell. If that didn’t tip you off about the state of medical science in regards to the female reproductive system, let me elaborate. According to Genital Evolution: Why Are Females Still Understudied?, the female anatomy has been largely, and still continues to be, studied by men. Gender bias is alive and well in the scientific community, and this male-dominated field is largely responsible for the lack of knowledge surrounding the female reproductive system; men tend to focus on men’s issues, and the same can be said for women. This has built a rich history of sex discrimination, misconception surrounding sex and the female reproductive system, and socio-cultural stigma and structural oppression against women.
The history of the female orgasm is chock full of misconceptions and myths made up and perpetuated by physicians and psychologists, the most famous of which being Sigmund Freud, who argued that the vaginal orgasm (an orgasm arising via the stimulation of the vaginal canal) was the superior and “more mature” orgasm. There is no evidence to support this claim, especially given that, according to a study from Indiana University, only 21-30% of women achieve orgasm from penetration alone. This myth perpetuated the idea of “Female Hysteria” or the “condition” that included a wide array of symptoms including, but not limited to, anxiety, fainting, sexual desire, loss of appetite for food or sex, and the “tendency to cause trouble for others”. It was believed that the womb was able to wander about the body and that male ejaculation had medicinal properties that could alleviate this condition. Women were routinely assaulted by medical professionals as well as their husbands in order to “cure” this nonexistent disease. Using sex and vaginal stimulation as a remedy for hysteria is how the vibrator was invented.
The female orgasm is indeed real, but is the G-spot? This is widely debated by the scientific community, and even by everyday men and women. There has yet to be evidence that definitively supports or denies the existence of said Grafenberg spot (hot name, right?), which was first postulated to be the female equivalent of the prostate. Some, who believe in its existence, believe it is an extension of the clitoris, which is why (if indeed real) stimulation of this area leads to intense orgasms and sometimes female ejaculation. Going back to Helen O’Connell, we know that the clitoris extends far beyond what we can see. “The vaginal wall is, in fact, the clitoris,” said O’Connell. “If you lift the skin off the vagina on the side walls, you get the bulbs of the clitoris – triangular, crescental masses of erectile tissue.” Dr. O’Connell believes that the G-spot is only present in women who have extensive clitoral tissues and nerves than others.
All in all, the female orgasm is still a mystery yet to be solved. The Sherlock Holmes of the female reproductive system has yet to be called upon, and until that day, we may never understand the evolutionary reasons behind the female orgasm, and why so few women experience them the same ways, if at all. Until then, I advise all of you with a female reproductive system to find time to explore yourselves. Knowing your own body is a necessity–both medically and sexually. You never know when understanding your own body will come in handy. — Haley Berger
Photo by Gantas Vaičiulėnas from Pexel
Major: Public Health
Hometown: Portland, Oregon
Hobbies: I love to garden during summer but once the weather turns you’ll find me inside with my cat, crocheting or rewatching my favorite comfort movies; Pride and Prejudice and Twilight
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