Feb. 1, 2022 -- The G spot, an area inside the vagina that's thought to cause exceptional sexual pleasure, can be difficult to pinpoint. Now, researchers are focused instead on finding an even more elusive sweet spot related to women's sexual pleasure: the part of the brain that responds to genital touch.
The findings about the area's location and variation, published in TheJournal of Neuroscience, offer insight into understanding healthy sex, the causes and possible treatments for sexual dysfunction or dissatisfaction, and the long-term effects of sexual abuse.
The somatosensory cortex is the brain region that detects touch in general, but different spots within this region represent different parts of the body. Scientists have been trying for years to pinpoint the exact location for sensory stimulation of the clitoris but kept getting inconsistent results. It turns out there's a good reason for that: Just as sexual experiences differ from one woman to the next, the specific site linked to the clitoris in the somatosensory cortex also differs among women.
The thickness of that area in each woman varied, according to how frequently each woman reported having sex in the past year. And where the region was and how large it was depended at least partly on how often it was used.
The study involved 20 healthy women who had no history of pregnancy, psychiatric or neurological disorders, childhood abuse or neglect, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual disorders, or other diseases. They also were not menstruating at the time of the study or taking any psychotropic drugs.
Each woman got MRI scans of their brains while wearing disposable underwear with a device placed over their clitoral area. The device, held in place with tape and a Velcro belt, lightly vibrated enough to stimulate the clitoral region. The researchers compared the brain imaging from this sensory touch to the imaging when the women stimulated the back of their right hands with the same device.
Unlike most past research, this study managed to stimulate only the clitoris without touching other nearby body parts or causing notable sexual arousal, allowing the scientists to zero in on the region of the brain linked to sensory touch in that region.
This is also the first time that scientists could clearly show that frequency of sex in the past year and over a person's lifetime was related to the physical structure of the brain region linked to clitoral touch. An estimated 40% of women report sexual problems of some form, and an estimated 1 in 5 girls have been sexually abused. This study takes researchers one step further in understanding those experiences and possibly how to help.