Evolutionary Science of Female Orgasm

Part of the Evolutionary Psychology book series (EVOLPSYCH)


The difficulty of inducing orgasm in women, its variability between women, and the lack of an obvious relationship with women’s reproductive success have led some researchers to conclude that female orgasm is a nonfunctional by-product of developmental pathways that women share with men. Other researchers have presented evidence that orgasm is an adaptation in women. In this chapter, we review the evidence for these opposing points of view and find that a functional hypothesis receives greater support. First, we discuss the phenomenological, anatomical, and neurological correlates of women’s orgasm, which are generally inconsistent with the idea that female orgasm is a by-product. We then present evidence that female orgasm enhances the likelihood of conception, and we summarize evidence that female orgasm functions as a mechanism for choosing mates of high genetic quality, investment potential, or both. Finally, we outline directions for future research that will help to resolve the debate about the functionality of orgasm in women.


Female orgasm By-product Sire choice Genetic quality Pair-bond Male investment Oxytocin 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyPennsylvania State UniversityState CollegeUSA

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