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. 2016 Oct 25;6:31562.
doi: 10.3402/snp.v6.31562. eCollection 2016.

Testing the Mate-Choice Hypothesis of the Female Orgasm: Disentangling Traits and Behaviours

Free PMC article

Testing the Mate-Choice Hypothesis of the Female Orgasm: Disentangling Traits and Behaviours

James M Sherlock et al. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. .
Free PMC article


Background: The evolution of the female orgasm in humans and its role in romantic relationships is poorly understood. Whereas the male orgasm is inherently linked to reproduction, the female orgasm is not linked to obvious reproductive or survival benefits. It also occurs less consistently during penetrative sex than does the male orgasm. Mate-choice hypotheses posit that the wide variation in female orgasm frequency reflects a discriminatory mechanism designed to select high-quality mates.

Objective: We aimed to determine (1) whether women report that their orgasm frequency varies between partners, (2) whether this variation reflects mates' personal characteristics, and (3) whether this variation reflects own and partner sexual behaviour during intercourse.

Design: We collected survey data from 103 women who rated (1) the extent to which their orgasm frequency varied between partners, (2) the characteristics of previous sexual partners who induced high-orgasm frequency and those who induced low-orgasm frequency, and (3) the specific behaviours during sex with those partners. This is the first study to test within-woman variation in orgasm and partner traits.

Results: Overall, women reported variation in their orgasm rates with different partners. Partners who induced high-orgasm rates were rated as more humorous, creative, warm, faithful, and better smelling than partners who induced low-orgasm rates, and also engaged in greater efforts to induce partner orgasm.

Conclusions: Some assumptions and predictions of mate-choice hypotheses of female orgasm were supported, while other aspects of our findings provide reasons to remain sceptical.

Keywords: evolution; mating; partner choice; relationships; sex.

Conflict of interest statement

and funding Funding was provided by the University of Queensland School of Psychology.

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