James W. Hicks, M.D.

Posts Tagged ‘vagina’

The Vulva

In Sexploration* on October 15, 2010 at 11:53 am

If a woman undresses in front of you, you probably will not see her sexual organs, because they are folded together between her legs and covered by a triangular patch of pubic hair. The pubic hair grows from the skin of the lower abdomen and from the labial mounds between the legs. It is generally curlier than hair on the head, though it may be fairly straight in women of Asian or Native American background. If the woman has shaved her pubic area, you may see a cleft where the two labial mounds press together, concealing the rest of the genitals, though the inner labial lips may protrude a little, depending on their size. Only when the woman spreads her legs while sitting, lying, or bending over, do the labia unfold to reveal the nestled, elliptical structures around the vagina.

The labial mounds are fatty folds of skin that have hair and sweat glands. They are anatomically similar to scrotal skin in men and similarly sensitive to touch; running fingers through the hair can increase blood flow and lubrication to the region. Inside the labial mounds are the even more sensitive, thinner labial lips, which are hairless and usually darker in color. The lips come together at the top in a hood which can be gently pushed back to reveal the clitoris, a small knob of tissue that is the focal point for sexual pleasure in most women. The hood of the clitoris, also called the prepuce, is analogous to the foreskin of the male penis. Pulling gently on the hood or labial lips will also stimulate the clitoris.

Below the clitoris and between the labial lips is a small area of pink or reddish skin which serves as the floor into which the vagina opens. Doctors refer to this area as the vestibule. There is a tiny mound for the urethral opening, or pee-hole, in this area, midway between the clitoris and the vaginal opening. When a woman is sexually aroused, the urethra closes, and lubricating fluids are released from ducts opening invisibly into the urethral mound. Some women ejaculate a small amount of clear or milky fluid at the time of orgasm.

In girls, the reddish skin of the vestibule is continuous with the hymen, a small curtain of mucous membrane that incompletely covers the opening to the vagina. The hymen is rich in blood vessels and may bleed a little when it is torn during first sexual intercourse. This was (and in parts of the world continues to be) an important sign of virginity, especially for girls who married at an early age. The hymen becomes increasingly translucent, thin, and elastic with age, so many women now do not experience any bleeding by the time they first experience penetration. During childbirth, the hymen stretches to the point where it is no longer visible, or only tiny remnants may be visible around the edge of the vaginal opening.

Vaginal versus Clitoral

In Sexploration* on August 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

For nearly a century, scientists have debated the best way for a woman to reach orgasm: by stimulation of the clitoris or manipulation of the G-spot? Freud famously thought that women who derived pleasure from the clitoris were infantile and neurotic. Kinsey’s group, on the other hand, found that the vast majority of women masturbate by stoking and pulling the clitoris and labial lips, in preference to the vagina, and those findings have been replicated repeatedly.

Recent surveys of Czech women found that ninety percent had reached orgasm by stimulation of the clitoris, while only three-quarters had experienced orgasm by vaginal stimulation. A recent British study found that even the women who believe they have a G-spot (a little more than half) find their clitoral orgasms to be more satisfying than their vaginal orgasms anyway. A telephone survey of nearly twenty thousand Australians found that women were much more likely to reach orgasm if their partner pleased them with fingers and cunnilingus before vaginal intercourse, while only half reached orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone.

The G-Spot

In Sexploration* on July 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Both men and women are confused about the anatomy and function of the female sex organs. Important parts of the female genitalia are embedded in the body rather than hanging out, like their male counterparts, so they are difficult to study, but scientists have also mischaracterized or ignored the area for centuries. Vesalius, a classical anatomist from the Italian Renaissance, went so far as to claim that the clitoris was a myth or an abnormality that should be removed. Sixty years after physicians “discovered” the G-spot and female ejaculation, scientists continue to debate their existence or characterize them as feminist myths.

Medical studies conducted in just the past decade have revealed the clitoris to be a more complex organ than had been realized previously. The clitoris is much more than the button of sensitive tissue visible under the labial hood; it includes long tubes of erectile tissue, similar to those found in the male penis, which extend deep into the pelvis, where they straddle the vagina like a cowgirl gripping a bronco. Squeezed between the vagina and clitoral tissue are several types of sexual glands. The entire organ is richly enervated and sensitive to the thrusting, stroking, tugging, vibrating, distending, and contracting motions that a woman experiences during intercourse.

Some scientists have begun to refer to a “clitoral complex” that includes the visible head of the clitoris, the deeper erectile tissues, the sexual glands, and the especially sensitive adjacent area of the vagina, often referred to as the G-spot.

The G-spot was named after Dr. Gräfenberg, the doctor who first noted that some women were aware of a point of maximum pleasure just within the vagina. The area is usually described as dime-sized and located about an inch inside, on the front side of the vagina. You can reach the area by sliding a finger into the vagina and bending the finger in the direction of the bellybutton.

Ever since Dr. Gräfenberg’s “discovery,” scientists have debated whether the G-spot exists, and most have been distracted by the hunt for a distinct organ rather than a sweet spot. It turns out that the location of the G-spot corresponds to the area where the deep, erectile tissue of the clitoris pushes up against the wall of the vagina, especially when the erectile tissue becomes engorged with blood and the vaginal muscles contract, as they do during sexual arousal and vaginal penetration.