For decades it has been thought that the clitoris was the only key to a woman’s sexual satisfaction.
That meant men who wanted to satisfy their partners believed they must spend hours getting to know the little button-like organ, its location and the kind of treatment that excited it.
Other startling findings cited by the essays in the series include – women are not only be able to orgasm from both vaginal and clitoral stimulation, but from stimulation at a range of erogenous zones, with some able to even “think” themselves to a peak.
The sensitive G-spot - once thought of as a semi-mythical orgasm hot spot - could have a role in pain relief during labour by more than doubling a woman's pain threshold, and the ability to reach climax through vaginal stimulation could be linked to both physical and mental health, with healthy women more likely to orgasm without clitoral stimulation.
French gynaecologist Odile Buisson in her essay argues the case for the classic understanding of the female orgasm as dependent on clitoral stimulation.
According to this view, the front wall of the vagina is closely linked with the internal parts of the clitoris, meaning that stimulating the vagina without activating the clitoris ought to be impossible.
So, she concludes, so-called 'vaginal' orgasms could in reality be clitoral orgasms by another name.
However, that view has now been challenged by recent research which shows that different sensory brain areas activate in women who are erotically stimulated in different areas.
Researchers based at New Jersey's Rutgers University conducted multiple studies in which they asked women to masturbate while having their brains scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.
Barry Komisaruk, professor of psychology at Rutgers, reported that the brain areas for clitoral, cervical and vaginal stimulation do cluster together but they overlap only slightly, like a “cluster of grapes”.
“If the vagina stimulation is simply working via clitoral stimulations, then vaginal stimulation and clitoral stimulation should activate the exact same place in the sensory cortex,” the Daily Mail quoted Komisaruk as telling LiveScience.
“But they don’t,” he said.
Other evidence presented backs up the hypothesis that there are multiple different kinds of female orgasms.
The study has been published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
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