Sexologist and sexuality counsellor Dr. Beverly Whipple is credited with being the first person to coin the term ‘G spot’.
Though she does not claim to be the first to initiate research on the G spot, her pioneering work on women’s health issues and sexual physiology has drawn mainstream attention to it, and she is often credited with having played an integral part in advocating for medical recognition of female pleasure and sensuality.
Along with her 1982 co-authored bestseller The G Spot and Other Recent Discoveries About Human Sexuality, Whipple has produced a huge amount of scholarly research including six additional books and some 180 chapters and articles. Meanwhile, she has appeared on more than 300 TV and radio programmes, been featured in countless magazines and delivered upwards of 800 talks. For her work and advocacy, she has been the recipient of over 115 awards.
The achievements of her 40-plus year career have led to her being named as one of the 50 most influential scientists in the world by New Scientist.
The existence of the G spot was first proposed by Ernst Gräfenberg
Ernst Gräfenberg was a German physician known for developing the intrauterine device (IUD) and for his studies of the role of the women’s urethra in orgasm. At the time of his studies, in the first half of the 20th century, German medicine typically rejected ‘invasion of the uterus’ for contraception on religious grounds and more widely disregarded women’s sexual health as not being a science.
Gräfenberg openly flouted these established views. He was an advocate for medical independence for women and their health, and provided counsel for many of his patients. Gräfenberg’s clinical interests were wide-ranging, from producing medical notes on pregnancy tests and venereal diseases to providing information about obstetric anaesthesia and pelvic anatomy. In the 1940s, his research focused on the effects of urethral stimulation.
It was while conducting this research that the not-yet-named G spot was written about for the first time. In his 1950 study, The Role of Urethra in Female Orgasm, he wrote that “an erotic zone always could be demonstrated on the anterior wall of the vagina along the course of the urethra”.
Whipple was originally a nursing teacher
Beverly Whipple was originally a nursing teacher, and in 1975 was asked, “what can a man do sexually after having a heart attack?” Sexuality was not yet included in nursing programs, and Whipple was stumped. After learning the answer – if you can climb two flights of stairs without getting short of breath, you can engage in sexual activity – she decided that she wanted to learn more about human physiology and sexuality.
Whipple then enrolled at Rutgers University in New Jersey, completed two master’s degrees and later achieved a Ph.D. in psychobiology with a major in neurophysiology. She was offered a faculty position in the mid-1980s, which she accepted on the condition that she would be allowed to conduct research on women.
Whipple ‘discovered’ the G spot when attempting to treat another issue
Among the 170 studies on human sexuality that Whipple completed during her career, one focused on women’s complaints about leaking fluid – which they thought was urine – during sexual activity. Whipple then discovered Ernest Gräfenberg’s study from the 1950s which reported evidence of female ejaculation and an erogenous zone within the vagina.
As part of her research, Whipple thus ‘discovered’ the G spot. However, she has stated that she never specifically set out to find the famed G spot; instead, she intended to validate women’s experiences and make them feel positive about their own sexual pleasure.
The G spot was nearly named the ‘Whipple Tickle’
Whipple went on to study 400 women and analyse the fluid. She discovered that it was significantly different from urine, and became convinced that the area where the G spot is located was significant and not yet widely medically studied.
Colleagues suggested that she name the spot the ‘Whipple Tickle’. However, in her 1982 book co-authored by Alice Kahn Ladas and John D. Perry, the trio decided to name it the ‘Gräfenberg spot’, or G spot. Whipple stated that she wanted to honour Gräfenberg, because of his many early contributions to the field. The book went on to become a New York Times bestseller and has since been translated into 19 languages.
Today, the existence of the G spot is still debated
The existence of the G spot is widely contested; some scientists claim that it is an extension of the clitoris, while others argue that it is an entirely separate part of the vagina. Some argue that it doesn’t even exist at all, while others claim that it only exists in vaginas of a certain anatomical design.
In spite of the ongoing debate about the existence of the G spot, Whipple’s work has had a profound impact on the recognition of the importance of female pleasure and its medical study. Whipple herself states that intimacy and sexual expression with a partner has health benefits: more youthful looks, longer lives, a decrease in the chances of breast cancer and heart attack and a stronger immune system.
“Pleasure is very important,” Whipple told one interviewer in 2010. “Think of the opposite: pain and war.”