Female Orgasms: Not Evolutionarily Necessary But Definitely Awesome

Both men and women like the pleasure that orgasms bring–but only male orgasms are actually “necessary.” At least that’s what science says–because only male orgasms are needed to make a baby. And now they’re trying to figure out why we should bother caring about women’s orgasms at all.

Ah, science. Science has clearly never had sex or it would know why female orgasms are necessary. In the meantime, Indiana University professor Elizabeth Lloyd, who has whittled down the purpose of the female orgasm into three main possibilities:

  1. One such theory involves “pair bonding,” the idea that orgasm bonds a couple emotionally so that they’re more likely to pursue parenthood.
  2. Another theory states that female orgasm is a part of mate selection: A woman will choose her mate based on his ability to bring her to climax.
  3. And a third main theory involves the belief that the contractions of female orgasm will draw sperm up the reproductive tract and into the uterus.

But, says Lloyd, since most women don’t even experience orgasm through straight up intercourse, perhaps the female orgasm is something more like a “byproduct” of the sex process. In the same way that evolutionarily men’s nipples serve no biological purpose, the female clitoris, says Lloyd, serves no biological purpose, and is instead leftover from the moments in our early development when sex was still being determined. To put it another way, as CNN sex blogger Ian Kerner explains it, “Men and women are physiologically the same during the first eight weeks of gestation: Penises grow out, clitorises grow in, but they share the same organic structure and tissue.”

Okay, so the clitoris has no purpose now. Fine. And, says Kerner, that’s a good thing, not a bad thing. Huh? Well, he believes that if women could understand that an orgasm during intercourse isn’t “necessary” — and in fact many women don’t achieve orgasm during heterosexual penis-in-vagina sex — it could free them up to reconsider their own sexuality and begin to approach sexual pleasure in a new way.

But lest you get the wrong idea, just because the female orgasm isn’t necessary for the propagation of the species, doesn’t mean your own orgasm isn’t very, very important. And if you need any help, we’ve got some suggestions for you. [CNN]