Looking back at Ava Cadell's upbringing, few could have guessed that one day she would become a professional sex expert.
Cadell was raised by nuns. "They tried to instill shame and guilt about my body and sexuality," Cadell said. "But when something is taboo it only makes you want to explore it more."
And explore she has. Cadell founded Loveology University, a website that bills itself as "the Online College of Sensual Knowledge," offering courses on how to have better sex. One such course offers the "latest techniques on how to find and really drive women crazy with G-spot stimulation."
But not everyone thinks the G-spot is so easy to find. For some, the search for that vortex of pleasure has been more of a crusade. For others it's a source of great frustration.
And in recent years, the search has expanded beyond the bedroom and into the medical laboratory.
In a new study to be published Wednesday in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, a researcher claims to have conclusively located the elusive G-spot.
But the new report is unlikely to put an end to any controversy. Already, several experts warn this so-called discovery may not be the road map to female orgasm that many women -- and their partners -- have long hoped to find.
The G-spot got its name in the 1980s when the concept -- an erogenous zone that, when stimulated, can lead to powerful orgasm, gained in popularity. It was initially named after Ernst Gräfenberg, a German physician, who wrote about its existence in the 1950s.
Since then, most sex experts have scrutinized an area on the front wall of the vagina that, anecdotally, appears particularly sensitive. Some experts, like Cadell, say stimulating this area can lead to female arousal, orgasm, and even ejaculation. Yet, despite widespread popular belief in its existence, no one has ever decisively identified a particular body part corresponding to the G-spot.
But now Dr. Adam Ostrzenski, a gynecologic surgeon and director of The Institute of Gynecology, Inc., in St. Petersburg, Fla., says he has accomplished this feat by discovering a structure he believes represents the G-spot.
Ostrzenski says he was motivated to study the G-spot after hearing anecdotes of swelling in the lower section of the vagina during stimulation.
"If something is causing engorgement or swelling, then anatomy must be present," he explained.
The unsexy twist to Ostrzenski's otherwise sexy research is the method he employed in his search; he dissected the cadaver of an 83-year-old woman and discovered a blue, grape-like structure buried deep in the front wall of the vagina.
According to the doctor, this structure resembled erectile tissue, similar to what can be found in the male penis.
Ostrzenski, a long-time believer in the existence of the G-spot, may have an additional incentive to validate its existence; he specializes in a procedure known as G-spot augmentation, in which a patient's own fat is injected into the vaginal wall right underneath the area where the G-spot is supposed to reside in order to enhance stimulation.
He says the location of this special spot has long been known by many women, and that it can be taught to others.
"The majority of women, when instructed where to look for the G-spot, will find it," Ostrzenski says.
Cadell says Ostrzenski's finding is proof of something she has known all along. "It's there for every woman to explore; it's a treasure."
Still, other experts in sexual health are not convinced that Ostrzenski has the G-spot all figured out.
Debby Herbenick, research scientist at Indiana University and author of the book Sex Made Easy says it is not possible to know if what Ostrzenski found is in fact the G-spot, since there is no information about the patient's sexual experiences when she was alive. Specifically, she says that the G-spot, by definition, is a spot that brings pleasure when stimulated -- and that Ostrzenski was unable to prove that the structure he identified gave his patient any pleasure because she was already deceased.
"Did she even find vaginal stimulation pleasurable?" questions Herbenick. "We just don't know."
Another major problem with the study was that it examined only one patient's body, says Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, associate clinical professor of urology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. Whether this type of tissue is found in any other women -- let alone all women -- is simply not known.
"Finding a mysterious structure in an 83-year-old [dead body] isn't proof of anything," Morgentaler says.
Another problem, Morgentaler says, is that even if this structure was in fact the woman's G-spot, it is unlikely that other women will be able to generalize this information to themselves, since the proposed location of the G-spot in Ostrzenski's patient is ''mapped out" in a series of complex measurements and angles related to tiny body parts of which most people have never heard.
The silver lining is that, even without the exact coordinates, nearly all women still have areas that they may find particularly stimulating. With this in mind, medical experts say, the location of any such G-spot is likely as diverse as their beholders.
"Some women will feel delicious feelings in one area, and others will experience it in other areas," says Morgentaler.
If one of the best aspects of the female sexual experience is that there are numerous ways to achieve arousal, some caution that focusing on this one magical spot might actually curb the creativity, so to speak, of some women.
"I would hope that the large group of women who love sex would not change the rich pathways that they have found to enjoy themselves and instead become fixated on making certain to stimulate their G-spot to orgasm every time," says Lexington, Mass.-based certified sex therapist Aline P. Zoldbrod.
And then there is some concern over the plight of the partner. In addition to the worry that focusing on the G-spot may be detrimental to the sexual self-esteem of women who can't find it, some worry it may also discourage those who cannot find it on their lover.
"I worry about the negative implications of this study," says Herbenick, "Some women may become discouraged that this study 'proved' the existence of a G-spot, but they still can't get pleasure from it."
Controversy notwithstanding, Ostrzenski's study is probably a step in the right direction, with regard to research on female sexual arousal. The topic has long suffered from an overall lack of scientific research, likely due to the sensitivity of the subject nature.
Ostrzenski says he recognizes the limitations of his current findings, but he adds that he remains hopeful he will find the same structure in other women. He has plans to repeat the study on cadavers of women of different ages next month, and he will also take biopsies of any structures that he finds at that time.
In the meantime, Cadell says the G-spot, which she likes to call "the goddess spot," is there to be explored. Any woman's feelings of insufficiency or embarrassment can be tackled through self exploration, she said, and many toys exist that can help a woman locate her G-spot.
She also says women should find out how they react to G-spot stimulation in private, before sharing it with a partner, since stimulation can elicit strong emotion, anything from laughing to crying.