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Wednesday, March 15, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Carnal Knowledge

Gee, women have ... a prostate?

Knight Ridder Newspapers

Due to overwhelming interest, we're going to return to the G spot — a region of female anatomy associated with orgasm and occasionally ejaculation.

After my last column on the G spot ran last month, quite a few men wrote in or called. Several said they were older than 60 and they sounded as if they'd been with enough women to have put together statistically significant scientific studies on female sexual response. These guys for the most part wanted to express wonder at the great diversity nature bestows on the female body.

Those who reported they'd witnessed an ejaculatory event may have rubbed up against a woman's prostate. That's not a typo. In 2002, what was once an obscure female anatomical feature known as the paraurethral glands, or Skene's glands, was officially renamed the prostate by the Federative International Committee on Anatomical Terminology.

To understand why women would have prostate glands, it helps to go back to our embryonic beginnings, when everything was taking shape. Popular wisdom says we all start life as female embryos, but scientists say we really begin as blended male-female beings.

"You actually have the plumbing for both genders in the early embryos," says University of Pennsylvania developmental biologist Patricia Labosky. At eight weeks, males and females both have a proto penis and a proto prostate.

After that point, depending on whether your chromosomes say you're male or female, some parts grow and develop and others degenerate. A few develop in different ways in both sexes: In girls, what would become the penis instead grows into its sister organ, the clitoris.

And what would become the male prostate becomes the female prostate. Just as the male prostate produces the fluid that carries sperm to their various destinations, the female version sometimes creates an ejaculation of fluid if rubbed the right way — through the G spot.

Men and women really aren't such different creatures. We really are just flip sides of the same coin.

But as the various men who called me to talk about female ejaculation noted, this is far from universal. Some had been around many blocks and seen it only once. Science may offer an explanation in that men need a fully functional prostate to reproduce. Women apparently don't. As a general rule, life generates variety wherever survival allows it to.

So what's the news you can use here? Bringing clarity to the G-spot issue was sex expert Tristan Taormino, who was in Philadelphia the week before Valentine's Day to talk to a group of about 35 women gathered at a lingerie boutique.

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The store provided wine and cheese and timed the event to coincide with the launch of a line of wares — lubricants and sex toys.

Taormino, 34, writes a sex column for the Village Voice and has written several books on sex. She says she's had sex with both women and men and has tried everything she lectures on. She calls herself "equal opportunity."

In New York and elsewhere, she does "hands-on demonstrations." This was not one of those. She stayed in the front of the room. We stayed in our seats.

She covered a lot of territory, but the G spot generated the most interest. Touching it makes many women feel like they have to urinate, she said. For some, this is a good feeling and can lead to orgasm; for others, it's annoying and leads to the nearest bathroom.

Taormino said no one should feel defective if she doesn't ejaculate, and no one should feel freakish if she does. But trying to have a G-spot orgasm is worth attempting, she said, and can sometimes be reached with regular old sexual intercourse. The critical thing is to get him to concentrate on your shallower regions.

She left us with this easy-to-remember geographic analogy: If the vagina is the Amtrak's Northeast corridor, which starts in Washington, tell your man to stop traveling to Springfield, Mass., and try spending more time in Philly. Who could argue with that?

Faye Flam writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Her Carnal Knowledge column appears Wednesdays in

The Seattle Times.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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