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Ancestral role for female orgasm

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2017 - Winter


Scientists have long tried to explain the origins of the female orgasm, which appears to play no role in human reproduction. In a study published in August in the journal JEZ-Molecular and Developmental Evolution, Günter P. Wagner, Ph.D., the Alison Richard Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and colleagues in Cincinnati propose an ancestral function in inducing ovulation.

The scientists focused on a physiological trait that accompanies human female orgasm—the neuroendocrine discharge of prolactin and oxytocin, a reflex that in many mammals plays a role in ovulation. Female orgasm, the scientists suggest, may have evolved as an adaptation for a direct reproductive role—the reflex that induced ovulation.