These Could Be The Evolutionary Origins Of The Female Orgasm

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Orgasms are great. I mean, do we even have to say it? But, unlike the male orgasm, the female orgasm serves no obvious reproductive purpose. Thankfully, two researchers are on the case and have put together a new theory of the way the female orgasm evolved.

For their paper, just published online in the Journal of Experimental Zoology, the researchers looked at the way females of other mammal species orgasm. They found that, in species such as rabbits and cats, female orgasm was associated with a surge in hormones that induced ovulation, meaning that they required sex to produce an egg for reproduction. That's not the case for humans, but we still have that hormone surge when we climax.

So the researchers suggest that the physiological effects of an orgasm in vagina-owning humans evolved from this earlier process. But, thanks to the complexities of your menstrual cycle, it's no longer necessary for reproduction in the same way.

But that obviously doesn't mean the female orgasm is useless. “It can be used for something, but it is not clear if it has a function beyond psychological bonding between partners,” Gunter Wagner, Phd, co-author of the study, told STAT. “The value of something the human body is capable of does not have to be functional."

Another theory suggests that, although female orgasms aren't required for reproduction, the contractions associated with climax may still aid in the process by ushering sperm into the uterus (a mechanism artfully known as "up-suck"). Then there are those emotional bonds that Dr. Wagner referenced. These are powerful connections, aided by hormones such as oxytocin, that can have other lovely health and beauty benefits. Plus, orgasms just plain feel good.

In a society that now places less value on the purely reproductive function of sex, the way we feel during and about our sexual experiences matters more than ever. In that way, the female orgasm has never been more useful than it is now. And we're definitely on board with any theory that supports that.

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