Debunking Myths About Female Sexuality and Reproductive Health
Abundant myths, misperceptions and misinformation circulates as "common knowledge"
when it comes to women's health. This is of such confusion and concern to women
that ABC's popular morning show, "The View" asked Dr. Donnica to discuss this
topic on air (10/15/04). Below is a summary of what Dr. Donnica had to say
about debunking four of the more common myths about female sexuality and reproductive
One circulating myth is that most women can feel themselves ovulate.
This is FALSE. . .although apr. 20% (1 in 5) of menstruating women can.
A slight discomfort on one side or the other of your lower abdomen just before,
during or just after ovulation may indicate a condition called "Mittelschmerz".
There are several explanations for the cause of this pain. Just prior to ovulation,
follicle growth may stretch the surface of the ovary, causing pain. At the time
of ovulation, fluid or blood is released from the ruptured egg follicle and
may cause irritation of the abdominal lining. Mittelschmerz pain or discomfort
may be felt either side and this may vary from month to month. It is important
to know that this pain is not harmful or severe and does not indicate
that anything is "wrong". In fact, women who feel this pain may have an advantage
if trying to conceive. This is NOT a reliable way to avoid conception, however.
Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen) may
help relieve the pain. More serious one-sided pain should be evaluated by a
physician as soon as possible. While most lower abdominal pain is not ovarian
in nature, ovarian cysts and other conditions may certainly cause pain. Most
causes of lower abdominal pain are not ovarian in origin however (e.g. appendicitis,
endometriosis, many GI disorders, etc.).
Many women mistakenly think that they can't get pregnant if you have your
period. This is false. In fact, a woman can conceivable get pregnant anytime
she has heterosexual intercourse. While menstruation is the most unlikely
time for pregnancy to occur in women who have regular period cycles, every 28-32
days, women who have irregular periods (especially prolonged), or cycles that
are only 20-26 days, however, may get pregnant during menstruation for two reasons.
First, sperm can live in the body for 3-5 days after intercourse. Second, a
woman who has irregular or shorter cycles, can ovulate earlier than normal,
or closer to the time of menstruation.
There are as many myths about pregnancy as about contraception. One popular
myth about both is that you need to be off the pill for 3 months before
getting pregnant. This is simply FALSE. While many doctors still reflexively
make this recommendation, there is no basis for it.
Myths abound about female sexuality. Many of these myths are about the "G-spot",
vaginal orgasms, and ejaculation. In fact, any statements of "fact" about any
of these topics are FALSE. The fact is that each of these issues are very
controversial. While many women--and sex researchers--testify to the fact that
these phenomena all exist, the current consensus is first that we still haven't
fully understood/elucidated female sexual anatomy or physiology. Next is that
there probably is a variation in female sexual anatomy in which these phenomena
occur in some women but not others. The G-spot or Grafenburg spot was
identified in 1944. For many women, this is a highly sensitive, highly erotic
"zone" located 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) inside the vagina on the front wall--easily
reachable with a finger. Many women can feel a rough area distinct from the
generally smooth and silky area like the rest of the vaginal wall.
Some women-- and some researchers--say that there is a female ejaculation that
may occur when the G-spot is stimulated to the point of climax. Other experts
claim this is nonsense, because an anatomically distinct area has not been consistently
located on autopsy exams. The Skene's glands or paraurethral glands are located
in this area and drain into the urethral opening--they are believed to produce
the ejaculate, which has been shown to be similar to the secretions produced
by the prostate. Viagra researchers have been frustrated trying to figure out
why Viagra may have an effect in some women but not most. One study (Jannini
2002; Adult Urology) has identified a varying concentration of an enzyme targeted
by Viagra (PDE5) in the G-spot area of women who respond to Viagra. He found
that the Skene's glands were more prominent in some women and not identifiable
in others. His research supports the theory of female ejaculation and vaginal
orgasm in women who have prominent Skene's glands.
The question of whether vaginal orgasms exist independently of clitoral stimulation
is also controversial: some women swear that they have vaginal orgasms during
intercourse or during manual stimulation. Bottom line: who cares? If you do,
enjoy it! If you don't, focus on clitoral stimulation or another erogenous zone.
Created: 10/25/2004  - Donnica Moore, M.D.