Why do women orgasm? Scientists shed light on the evolutionary mystery

We know why men do it, but why do women orgasm? While most human functions have a purpose, scientists have been stumped as to why women orgasm — until now.

New research out of Yale University suggests that, from an evolutionary standpoint, women used to climax to prime their bodies for ovulation. Orgasms would flood women’s bodies with hormones and muscle contractions that readied them for producing an egg and baby-making.

This must have been the mechanism for female orgasms about 150 million years ago, the scientists say.

But since then ovulation has changed, and the female orgasm has taken on other roles, such as helping with bonding, the doctors guess.

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“It is important to stress that [orgasm] didn’t look like the human female orgasm looks like now. We think that [the hormonal surge] is the core that was maybe modified further in humans,” study co-author, Mihaela Pavlicev, told the Guardian in the U.K.
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“There is a lot of discussion about whether [the female orgasm] could have any functions like in bonding behaviour and things like that — so we cannot exclude that it actually has co-opted some other function after it lost its function in reproduction,” Pavlicev said.

When men orgasm they ejaculate, a key step to procreating and passing on their genes. The reason why they orgasm are much more obvious, but the explanation behind the female orgasm hasn’t been as clear-cut.

Pavlicev says that female cats, rabbits, and camels — among other mammals — rely on hormonal surges during orgasm to tell their bodies to release an egg. These animals ovulate only after having sex.

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Humans probably turned to orgasming for a “direct reproductive role,” too. But some mammals’ interaction changed: primates, for example, turned to social interaction and regular sex.

The scientists suggest that after that, some mammals, including humans, released eggs on a regular cycle instead of only after mating. They didn’t need to climax to ovulate.

Now, women have sex without orgasming at all, the researchers note.

“It seems very natural not to automatically accompany orgasm with copulation,” Pavlicev said.

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Orgasm is key to partner bonding, experts say. After you climax, oxytocin, which is nicknamed the “cuddle hormone,” flows into your system.

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It’s notorious for making you want to bond and have genuine intimacy with your partner beyond the physical.

Read Pavlicev’s full findings published in the journal JEZ-Molecular and Developmental Evolution.

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