When it comes to guys, getting off is pretty self-explanatory. Yet the female orgasm is still somewhat elusive—scientists are only beginning to understand the anatomy involved in women’s pleasure. And it’s not just because our lady parts are so darn complicated: “Science is still under male control,” says Emmanuele A. Jannini, M.D., a professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at Tor Vergata University in Rome.
In fact, he says, it wasn’t until a drug for men’s sexual dysfunction—Viagra—was developed that researchers really understood male orgasm. (There’s still no such drug for women.)
But Jannini’s team is making strides toward understanding what’s going on when women get off—and in a new paper published in Nature Reviews: Urology, he starts by suggesting we throw out the old idea of the clitoris versus G-spot versus vagina view of pleasure. Instead, think of your hot spots as a single (sexy) entity: the clitourethrovaginal complex, or CUV, which includes the internal parts of your clitoris (yep, it’s way more than that little nubbin!), your urethra, and your vagina.
RELATED: 5 Sex Rumors to Stop Believing
During penetration, the CUV responds sexually—contrary to the old view of the vagina as nothing more than a passive canal—and may be the secret to female orgasm during intercourse. “All of my research, confirmed by several laboratories around the world, demonstrated that the vaginal orgasm exists, the vagina is sexually active, and the anterior vaginal wall, with the urethra and inner clitoris, are the instruments triggering vaginal orgasm,” says Jannini.
So what’s the difference between the CUV and the G-spot? “The site is almost the same [as the G-spot], the role is probably the same, but it is not a spot,” he says. “The term ‘spot’ generated confusion. People were looking for a button, a device.”
Here’s how research suggests it actually works: When your partner enters you, his penis takes on a boomerang-like shape (crazy, right?), stretching and shifting the whole CUV complex and applying pressure to your clitoris, which is squeezed between your vagina’s front wall and the joint connecting your two pubic bones. When the front wall is stimulated, the resulting pressure may be transferred to nearby erectile tissues, including the clitoral bulbs, so they become aroused too.
This suggests that a single spot isn’t responsible for your pleasure. It may also explain why internally stimulated orgasms are often described as “whole body, radiating, psychologically more satisfying, and longer-lasting,” compared to strictly clitoral orgasms.