A typological approach to testing the evolutionary functions of human female orgasm

Arch Sex Behav. 2012 Oct;41(5):1145-60. doi: 10.1007/s10508-012-0001-0. Epub 2012 Oct 2.


Building on previous work that identified different types of orgasm in women (King, Belsky, Mah, & Binik, 2011), the goal of the present study was to extend such typological work and determine whether female orgasmic variability tracked potentially evolutionarily salient sexual partner characteristics (e.g., those displaying possible immune-system compatibility). A total of 265 females completed an Internet survey about their orgasmic experience-achieved either with partners or alone. For partnered orgasms, they also provided details of partner characteristics and sexual behaviors. Latent class analysis revealed two orgasm types which were meaningfully distinguishable in terms of sensations and location-either centered on the surface of genitalia or deep inside. Deep orgasms were associated with internal sensations consistent with proposed functions of female orgasm in terms of differential sperm insuck. Such orgasms were associated with partners who were perceived as considerate, dominant, with a noticeably attractive smell, and as providing firm penetration. However, some hypothesized reproductively significant partner characteristics were not differentially associated with deep orgasms (i.e., muscularity, aggression, masculinity). Results were discussed and future research directions outlined. In particular, it is suggested that sexual passion between partners is a non-accidental component of sexual functioning and that this has too frequently been missing in sex research involving humans. Direct physiological measures of the results of female orgasm need to be undertaken. Additionally, the intriguing phenomenon of female ejaculation deserves scientific attention.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biological Evolution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Orgasm* / classification
  • Orgasm* / physiology
  • Peristalsis / physiology
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology
  • Sexual Partners / classification*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uterus / physiology