Scientific Research on the Female Orgasm is Anti-Climactic

It appears that scientists are as miffed about female orgasms as most men.  Just take a look at this article from Popular Science, “Do Female Orgasms Help With Conception?  New Study Says No” and then this other more disturbing piece in the Seriously, Science? blog over on Discover,What’s the Point of Oral Sex?” that begins with possibly the two most offensive sentences I’ve ever read in my life.

Why on earth would anyone perform oral sex? Particularly on a woman?!? 

The real scientific debate should concern the question: Spit or swallow?

Who would want their naughty bits anywhere near this?!?

Yes, why on earth would anyone ever perform oral sex, particularly on a woman?  Because I guess it’s less disgusting to perform the act on a man, who, you know, actually pees with the organ involved, not to mention the living, swimming, squirming bits of genetic material that might shoot their way out and into the digestive tract at any second (if you do it right).  Yes, going down on a woman is infinitely more disgusting than blowing a guy.

Ok, rant over.  Let me calm down, by thinking more pleasant thoughts, like about the evolutionary benefits of the female orgasm.

The thing is, all the great minds of Western science have been struggling for years to figure out why women orgasm.  See, the male orgasm makes sense to them because, as I learned in my fifth grade health class (where I was more excited about the free sample Always panty liner I received than anything Mrs. Heinz tried to teach us), the male orgasm causes ejaculate, filled with all the happy swimming spermies, to spurt out and impregnate any ova that might be lying about, say, like in my mouth.   Oh, wait, not in my mouth.  Maybe oral sex really is incomprehensible.

Anyway, male orgasm is what gets the sperm and egg together, so there seems to be a reason for it.  But the female orgasm?  Not so much.  From the article in Popular Science:

A new study has found no correlation between female orgasms and fertility. This undermines one popular hypothesis for why, evolutionarily, women have orgasms. Women may be more likely to conceive when they orgasm, according to the theory, thus passing on their ability to their offspring. But if frequent orgasmers don’t have any more kids than infrequent orgasmers, then it doesn’t matter.

. . .

Instead, it may be that environmental factors drive both orgasm rate and offspring number, the researchers proposed. But they couldn’t exactly find these environmental factors, either. They tested orgasm rate and relationship length and orgasm rate and frequency of sex and found only weak correlations.

So it seems female orgasms will have to remain mysterious for a few years more.

Remind me never to fuck date a guy who holds the opinion that female orgasms are “mysterious.”

Let's climb into the backseat and fog up the windows.

Let’s climb into the backseat and fog up the windows.

I’m a firm believer that just about every human behavior has its roots in our evolutionary past, and I’ve written a bit about evolutionary biology on this blog.  But could it be possible that there is no evolutionary advantage for the female orgasm?  I hope not, because I like to imagine a human future with flying cars and colonies on the moon and and a world where all the women are multiorgasmic.

I hate to think that the female orgasm is just some vestigial remnant of human biology, like the appendix, or the left side of the brain in liberal arts majors.  I want to believe that it’s there for a reason, as well as being proof that there is a God.

You can read more about evolutionary biology in the posts Wham Bam, Thank You Ma’am, Surviving Polyandry, and Is Sex Necessary?

Royalty free stock photos including the images in this post can be found at Stock.XCHNG and Wikimedia Commons.

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9 thoughts on “Scientific Research on the Female Orgasm is Anti-Climactic

  1. bodycrimes says:

    Maybe orgasms is what attracts women to having sex in the first place? If you don’t get anything from an activity, why bother doing it? There’s evidence that women orgasm more frequently when sleeping with symmetrical and alpha males, which suggests that women get more turned on by higher quality reproductive partners. And maybe the fact that women’s sexual response is slower is a way of making the male prove himself, because he has to work harder to please her. Hence he might be a better partner.

    There has to be some excellent pay off to something as ridiculous as sex. Very few women approach is, I imagine, going: “maybe he’ll give me a baby!” as much as evolutionary biologists might like to believe they do.

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    • Karen says:

      But the excellent pay off for sex is that we get to pass on our genetic material to the next generation (according to evolutionary biologists)!

      I agree with you that sex is much more than reproduction, but I also think there are very often primal reasons that we are unaware of that make us do the things we do, which is where my interest in evolutionary biology comes from. If women who do not orgasm have as much success passing on their genetic material as women who do orgasm (which this research seems to indicate), then why do human females orgasm at all?

      So if the female orgasm is not necessary for the continuation of the species, what is it there for?

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      • bodycrimes says:

        That was my point, though, that there IS a reproductive payoff, in that the orgasmic payoff is the same as for men – it makes women interested in sexual activity in the first place. Probably it would be hard to bag a female if all you were going to do was hurt her in order to reproduce – much better all round if the female is actively interested in participating. Also, orgasm in both males and females releases bonding hormones like oxytocin (for her) and vasopressin (for him) that suggest good sex is a way of not just getting pregnant, but getting the parents to stick around each other.

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        • Karen says:

          While I agree with all that you say, it is true that whether or not a woman orgasms, she still has sex and (at least) reproduces in the same numbers as women who do orgasm. Now if a lack of orgasm discouraged women from having sex/reproducing, then there would be an evolutionary argument in favor of female orgasm, but this study appears to prove that is not the case.
          Women have sex and reproduce in the same numbers, whether or not they’re orgasming.

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  2. bodycrimes says:

    But that’s not possible to know. Nobody has done a study of whether orgasmic women have fewer or more babies or sexual contacts with non-orgasmic women. Women are not, and have never been, strictly monogamous – some study I can’t remember well enough to link to shows that an astounding number of children born within wedlock are born to a father who isn’t the one the woman is married to. If women didn’t enjoy sex, they simply wouldn’t be seeking it out. But they do, and have always done. Just how much isn’t known, because it isn’t possible to find out.

    Female sexuality is very, very poorly understand and the studies are riddled with assumptions. It’s a very questionable area. Just because orgasm doesn’t have the precise reproductive function that people have thought it might, doesn’t write it off as an important biological process.

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    • Karen says:

      Yes, they have done a study. The study is the subject of this post. I’ve included the link to the study in the excerpt from the Popular Science article, and here it is again http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003347213002121.

      No one is writing orgasms off (least of all me!), I’m just riffing on how female orgasm continues to baffle most everyone 🙂

      And I think there are lots of reasons why women have sex, and not all of them involve because we find it pleasurable.

      Thanks for your comments.

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