The existence of the female orgasm is a mystery to a lot of people — whether those people be your sex-ed teachers, a one-night-stand, or women themselves. Even scientists have long wondered why such a thing exists from an evolutionary perspective, since women don’t need to orgasm in order to become pregnant. Until now, that is: Because said scientists may have found that evolutionary purpose.
According to The Guardian, scientists now believe that the female orgasm has to do with hormonal surges that other mammals need to facilitate reproduction. Cats, rabbits and other species experience a hormonal surge during sex that signals for the ovaries to release eggs for fertilization. Researchers believe that this type of ovulation, called “male-induced ovulation,” predates spontaneous ovulation, which likely evolved in certain primate and rodent species 75 million years ago:
That, they say, suggests that human female orgasm could have its roots in a mechanism for the release of eggs during sex – a mechanism that became redundant with the evolution of spontaneous ovulation, with female orgasm potentially going on to acquire other roles.
The study’s co-author, Mihaela Pavličev, said that it’s too soon to definitively determine if the female orgasm is a leftover from a co-opted reproductive function, stating that it could have other purposes like “bonding behavior.” But the correlation of where the clitoris is located makes her explanation a convincing one:
The authors say the theory is backed up by a comparison of the position of the clitoris, which gives rise to orgasms, in different mammals. Species that rely on hormonal surges during sex to ovulate tend to have a clitoris inside or near the female sex canal, making it more likely to be stimulated during sex. But, the authors note, those that ovulate spontaneously have the clitoris further away.
You can read more about that explanation in the Journal of Experimental Zoology (which is just as sexy as the title makes it sound). Other scientists stress, though, that this study only looks at the female orgasm from a hormonal aspect, and that orgasms also involve muscular and neurological components that weren’t studied. One scientist even calls the female orgasm — which is also a mystery in other species, according to The Guardian — “a fantastic bonus,” that might not need any evolutionary explanation to be appreciated.
(Via The Guardian)