Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 07 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Debate surrounds whether women’s orgasm is an adaptation or a by-product of orgasm in men. We clarify what evidence would decide this debate and review evidence that female orgasm is an adaptation for promoting fertilization by men of high genetic quality. Female orgasm does not appear vestigial as by-products do. Rather, cross-species data suggest that female orgasm depends on the quality of a female’s mate and evolves where females copulate polyandrously. Sex differences in human orgasm frequency mirror sex differences in choosiness over mates, and orgasm frequency tracks conception risk across the cycle, another indicator of a sire choice function. Manipulations of orgasm-related hormones and brain regions in humans and nonhuman mammals indicate that female orgasm promotes conception. We review evidence of men’s concern over female orgasm in order to gauge paternity certainty, and evidence that women feign orgasm in order to maintain male investment.

Keywords: adaptation, by-product, female orgasm, mate choice, good genes

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.