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Part of the book series: Evolutionary Psychology ((EVOLPSYCH))

Abstract

Male and female sexual experiences differ considerably, particularly with regard to orgasm. Research into the female orgasm tends to follow one of two lines of reasoning: the by-product explanation or the adaptation explanation. The by-product explanation posits that the female orgasm is a functionless by-product of women’s early developmental similarity with men. By contrast, the adaptation explanation hypothesizes that female orgasm is an adaptation in its own, separate right. Supporters of the by-product explanation of female orgasm contend that because female orgasm is more difficult to induce than orgasm in men, is harder to produce via sexual intercourse than through masturbation, and is not necessary for reproduction, it has not been designed via sexual selection. Supporters of the adaptation explanation of female orgasm, however, believe that female orgasm serves to increase fitness through one or more functions, such as through rewarding sexual behaviors, increasing pair bonds, augmenting the likelihood of conception, and/or working as a mate- or sire-selection mechanism. Here, the current literature on women’s orgasmic experience and evidence in favor of both competing explanations are reviewed. It is concluded that a by-product explanation may not provide an adequate summation of the findings, although definite proof in favor of the adaptive design of female orgasm is lacking, and that female orgasm is an important, unique experience that is worthy of continued attention from researchers.

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Welling, L.L.M. (2014). Female Orgasm. In: Weekes-Shackelford, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Sexual Psychology and Behavior. Evolutionary Psychology. Springer, New York, NY. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4939-0314-6_12

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