H.L. Mencken, Dorothy Parker and J.R.R. Tolkien are all cited as having believed “cellar door” to be the one of the most beautiful words in the English language. But I’ve got a better contender — gooch.
What I love about the word “gooch” is that it’s a hilarious name for a hilarious part of the body, but it’s also a truly vital body part. In the simplest terms, the gooch is the space between your genitals and your butthole, more technically known as the “perineum.” Everyone has one, but for whatever reason, the word “gooch” skews male, with it being more frequently used to describe the fleshy no-man’s land between the testes and butt.
It’s unclear where the term “gooch” originated, but its biological function is clear as day. According to a chapter on the topic in the 2007 textbook Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, the perineum is divided into two “compartments.” Between the two compartments is a triangular sheet of dense, fibromuscular tissue. These spaces are essential for childbirth. While pregnant, the perineum helps support the pelvic floor as it carries the weight of the fetus. During the actual birth, the perineum continues to provide support through vaginal labor as the baby is pushed out, but it also needs to stretch alongside the vaginal canal to accommodate the baby’s size (though it’s not uncommon for the gooch to tear on its own or for doctors to make an incision in it to make extra room). In other words, the gooch is indispensable for childbirth, and therefore to humanity as a whole, even if it doesn’t always hold up through labor.
For people with penises or those who will otherwise never give birth, the gooch is still super important. You need that muscle to support your pelvic floor in plenty of other activities, namely going to the bathroom and having sex. It also makes up one part of the structure that holds the uterus/penis, bladder, small intestine and rectum all together.
Likewise, it’s home to several very important nerves. In particular, the pudendal nerve sits deep within the base of it, while other perineal nerves sit closer to the surface. Because the pudendal nerve helps deliver sensation to the penis, issues with it can be responsible for a lot of different dick-related problems, namely pain or numbness. As urologist Joshua Gonzalez previously explained to me, physical therapy focused on strengthening the pelvic floor — gooch included — can help remedy/avoid these problems with the nerves.
At the same time, the gooch is home to a lot of glorious sexual sensations. Sex toy makers MysteryVibe refer to the perineum as an erogenous zone that can be gently massaged with fingers, tongues or a vibrator, and doing so can even be a means of accessing the prostate from the outside of the body (to do so, gently press into the skin with your middle or index fingers and massage the area until you find a place that feels good). People without prostates can similarly find it enjoyable to incorporate their perineum in various sex acts — all those nerves make it a highly-senstive body part.
So, the gooch isn’t just a beautifully named piece of skin between your balls and butt — it’s a core part of your bodily functions. You may have entered this Earth via a vagina (unless you were born via Cesarean, as I was), but a gooch was right there to help push you along and show you a good time later on. Let’s show it some love.