Some of the benefits of female orgasm are obvious: Orgasms enhance women’s sexual pleasure and the sexual satisfaction of their partners as well (Heiman et al., 2011). Women’s orgasms may also aid in conception by facilitating sperm retention (Thornhill et al., 1995). However, some other benefits are both unconscious and very surprising.
Orgasms help woman evaluate the quality of a partner.
The frequency of heterosexual women’s orgasms is associated with their male partner’s mate quality in a variety of ways, leading researchers to propose that women’s orgasms function in part to help guide them toward better-quality partners.
1. Genetic quality.
Women who report more orgasms during sex also tend to have partners who are, physically, more symmetrical (Thornhill et al., 1995). Bodily symmetry is associated with good genetic quality; both men and women who are more symmetrical have been found to be healthier and to live longer (Perilloux et al., 2010). Symmetry is also associated with physical attractiveness. Men and women who are more symmetrical are typically judged as more attractive (Weeden and Sabini, 2005), and women partnered with more attractive men also report more frequent orgasms during sex (Puts et al., 2012; Sela et al., 2015). Since both symmetry and physical attractiveness are considered indicators of good genetic quality, women’s orgasms may help to unconsciously guide them toward partners of better genetic quality (Puts et al., 2012; Sela et al., 2015; Thornhill et al., 1995).
2. Genetic compatibility.
Interestingly, women’s orgasms not only reveal whether a heterosexual partner has good genes, but whether he has the right genes as well. Heterosexual couples who have dissimilar immune genes may conceive offspring with enhanced immunity. Researchers have found that women who share fewer immune genes with their male partners also report more frequent orgasms (Garver-Apgar et al., 2006). In this case, orgasms may unconsciously facilitate conceiving a child with a stronger immune system.
Your orgasm can even inform you about your mate’s personality. Women who have more frequent orgasms are more likely to rate their partners as more creative, as having a good sense of humor, and as being high in self-confidence (Gallup et al., 2014).
Your orgasms can help you keep your partner.
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide which facilitates relaxation and pair bonding (Meyer, 2007). Orgasm in both men and women causes oxytocin levels to increase (Meston and Frohlich, 2000), which can stimulate feelings of romantic love (Schneiderman et al., 2012). Oxytocin may also help to maintain fidelity in monogamous romantic relationships (Scheele et al., 2012).
Further, couples that experience a longer “sexual afterglow,” or extended period of sexual satisfaction following intercourse, report more marital satisfaction over time and may be at a decreased risk for infidelity. (Meltzer et al., 2017)
Portions of this post were taken from The Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships. Copyright 2015 Madeleine A. Fugère.
Garver-Apgar, C. E., Gangestad, S. W., Thornhill, R., Miller, R. D., & Olp, J. J. (2006). Major histocompatibility complex alleles, sexual responsivity, and unfaithfulness in romantic couples. Psychological science, 17(10), 830-835.
Heiman, J. R., Long, J. S., Smith, S. N., Fisher, W. A., Sand, M. S., & Rosen, R. C. (2011). Sexual satisfaction and relationship happiness in midlife and older couples in five countries. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40(4), 741-753.
Meltzer, A. L., Mackhanova, A., Hicks, L. L., French, J. E., McNulty, J. K., & Bradbury, T. N. (in press). Quantifying the sexual afterglow: The lingering benefits of sex and their implications for pair-bonded relationships. Psychological Science.
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Puts, D. A., Welling, L. L., Burriss, R. P., & Dawood, K. (2012). Men's masculinity and attractiveness predict their female partners' reported orgasm frequency and timing. Evolution and Human Behavior, 33(1), 1-9.
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Sela, Y., Weekes-Shackelford, V. A., Shackelford, T. K., & Pham, M. N. (2015). Female copulatory orgasm and male partner’s attractiveness to his partner and other women. Personality and Individual Differences, 79, 152-156.
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