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September 26: Gräfenberg and the G-Spot

September 25, 2015

Dr. Ernst Gräfenberg, inventor of the intrauterine birth control device (IUD), who was rescued by Margaret Sanger from a Nazi prison in 1940, was born near Göttingen, Germany on this date in 1881. Gráfenberg moved from opthalmology to obstetrics and gynecology in the years before World War I and developed the “Gräfenberg ring,” the first widely used IUD, in 1929. He also identified the so-called G-Spot — “an erotic zone... on the anterior wall of the vagina along the course of the urethra” — in 1950 (it was named “G-Spot” for Gräfenberg by a subsequent researcher). The Nazis forced Dr. Gräfenberg to resign in 1933 as head of the department of gynecology and obstetrics in the Berlin-Britz municipal hospital, but since his medical practice included wives of high Nazi officials, he assumed he would not be further persecuted. Arrested in 1937, he was ransomed by Margaret Sanger, and spent seventeen years as a practicing doctor in the U.S. until his death in 1957. The reality of the G-Spot remains a source of some medical controversy, with some researchers seeing it as an extension of the clitoris, others as a hub of glands and ducts that serves as an independent erogenous zone in some women, yet others as a myth.

“ ‘It’s a small mass of spongy erectile nerve tissue, paraurethral ducts and glands, and blood vessels, which can be erogenous for many women during sexual arousal,’ says [Yvonne K.] Fulbright [a sexuality expert]. The G-spot is nestled between your pubic bone and the front of your cervix, about two inches into the vaginal opening on the front wall of your vagina (the one closer to your stomach, not your back).” —Zahra Barnes, Women’s Health