Female Orgasm: An Evolutionary Journey

Female_orgasm_bDaniel Honan in Big Think:

Take the issue of female orgasm, for instance, which some scientists do not accept as a biological necessity. Dr. Elisabeth A. Lloyd, among others, has described female orgasm as the female equivalent to male nipples, anatomy that one sex needed, while the other sex “just sort of lucked out with some lingering leftovers.”

Ryan rejects this view. “When a woman has an orgasm,” he explains, “the pH of her reproductive tract shifts in a way that favors sperm that enter her at that point.” Why is this so important? Sperm competition. In prehistoric times, according to Ryan, women had “multiple lovers at any given ovulatory cycle, even in any given sexual event.”

And so, let's say a woman is having sex with several different men, and she likes them all well enough. Now let's suppose she has a special connection with one man in particular, whether it is a psychological connection or the attraction happens on the level of smell. That man provokes her to have an orgasm, and that man’s sperm has a great advantage over the sperm of the other men “in the obstacle course to the ovum.”

What's the Significance?

Is it true that women are “quality players” while men are “quantity players”? Ryan says the two sexes are hard-wired exactly that way, and the proof about our sexual proclivities is written in the human anatomy. “The female, like the male body, is a book that can be read,” says Ryan. “It’s full of information about the sex lives of our ancestors.”

Ryan points to some cutting-edge experiments that suggest the ovum itself is “capable of distinguishing between the sperm of different men by the DNA and choosing the sperm that is the best match for her.”