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Paper: Why Women Have Orgasms: An Evolutionary Analysis
apparently, female human orgasms are useful after all.
Abstract Whether women’s orgasmis an adaptation is argu- ably the most contentious questioninthestudyoftheevolution of human sexuality. Indeed, this question is a veritable litmus test for adaptationism, separating those profoundly impressed with the pervasive andmyriad correspondences between organ- isms’ phenotypes and their conditions of life from those who apply the ‘‘onerous concept’’ of adaptation with more caution, skepticismor suspicion. Yet, the adaptedness of female orgasm is a question whose answer will elucidate mating dynamics in humans and nonhuman primates. There are two broad compet- ing explanations for the evolution of orgasm in women: (1) the mate-choice hypothesis, which states that female orgasm has evolved to function in mate selection and (2) the byproduct hypothesis,which states that female orgasmhas no evolutionary function, existing only becausewomen share some early ontog- eny with men, in whom orgasm is an adaptation. We review evidence for these hypotheses and identify areaswhere relevant evidence is lacking.Although additional research is needed before ﬁrm conclusions can be drawn, we ﬁnd that the mate- choice hypothesis receives more support. Speciﬁcally, female orgasm appears to have evolved to increase the probability of fertilization from males whose genes would improve offspring ﬁtness.