Ipso Factoid: *insert gratuitous sexual pun here*


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In a wonderful opportunity (duly ignored) to prove our maturity as a society, both the Times and Daily Mail had headlines declaring “What an anti-climax” in relation to a study about the apparent non-existence of the female G-spot. The Register website settled for the far more restrained “In-depth probe fails to hit the G-spot”. As with any article relating to (whisper it) sex, this gave both journalists and commentators alike the perfect opportunity to wheel out every joke they could remember about vagina’s, orgasms, and men being crap in bed.

The article these wonderfully witty headlines refer to appears in the Journal of Sexual Health. The study asked 1,804 female twins (both identical and non-identical) aged between 22 and 83 to fill in a questionnaire reporting whether they had a G-spot or not. Both the Mail and the Times claim that if the G-spot actually exists, one would expect there to be a correspondence between identical twins reporting they had one. The papers report that no such pattern was shown.

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of Ipso Factoid that in fact this study does not prove that the G-spot does not exist. The results are, in my humble opinion, far more interesting than the media would make out. The Times mentions some criticism of the results, quoting Prof. Emily Whipple, a rather big name in the world of female sexuality, as saying that “The biggest problem with their findings is that twins don’t generally have the same sexual partner”. In other words, just because a women hasn’t reported having a G-spot, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Lead author of the paper, Andrea Burri of King’s College London is happy to admit that this may in fact be correct, and that maybe “partner differences do play a role”. The subtlety the media failed to pick up on, however, is that “that is exactly what we [the research team] are saying, basically that the G-Spot is almost entirely due to unique environmental influences, so partner differences or performance is taken into account”. Importantly “That still doesn’t mean that it is an anatomical phenomenon, it could be an entirely subjective thing”.

The article never claims to prove the non-existence of the G-spot, it simply shows the lack of heritability of the self-report of a G-spot. The authors go on to postulate that this may prove the G-spot is a social rather than a physiological construct, but they are clear that more research is much needed (Ms Burri herself said she found it fascinating that the existence of the G-spot was widely accepted based on a handful of very small studies). The BBC website gets closest to covering this study properly, but they still missed the subtleties.

To be fair, it’s not necessarily immediately obvious. I’ll happily admit to being no expert when it comes to female genitalia. But in the space of about 20 minutes, spread over an afternoon exchanging e-mails with the extremely helpful Ms Burri, I was able to get even my feeble mind around the general idea. Would it be so much to ask the towering intellects of our media masters to invest similar time themselves? Ms Burri summed it up nicely when she said “Never trust the media. As soon as they start cutting information down the true message gets blurred”. Wise words indeed.

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