Surprising Relationship Benefits of the Female Orgasm

How women's orgasms help us find and keep better quality mates.

Posted Oct 24, 2017

Kasey Marcum/Flickr
Source: Kasey Marcum/Flickr

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 of the benefits of women’s orgasms are both unconscious and very surprising.

Your orgasms help you evaluate the quality of your 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 women toward better quality partners. 

1. Genetic quality

Women who report more orgasms during sex also tend to have partners who are 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 also judged as more attractive (Weeden and Sabini, 2005). Women partnered with more attractive men also report more frequent orgasms during sex (Puts et al., 2012; Sela et al., 2015). 

Both symmetry and physical attractiveness are considered indicators of good genetic quality, therefore 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 men have good genes, but whether they have 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, women's orgasms may unconsciously facilitate conceiving a child with a stronger immune system. 

3. Personality

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 high in self-confidence (Gallup et al., 2014).

Your orgasms can help you keep your partner.

Women’s orgasms not only help women to find a good partner but also function to help keep a good partner through increased pair bonding and decreased risk of infidelity

1. Bonding

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). 

2. Afterglow

Furthermore, couples who experience a longer “sexual afterglow” (Meltzer et al., 2017), an extended period of sexual satisfaction following intercourse, report more marital satisfaction over time and may be at a decreased risk for infidelity. 

Your orgasms can help you find and keep a high-quality partner.  

Portions of this post were taken from The Social Psychology of Attraction and Romantic Relationships. Copyright 2015 Madeleine A. Fugère. 

References

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.

Meston, C. M., & Frohlich, P. F. (2000). The neurobiology of sexual function. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57(11), 1012-1030.

Meyer, D. (2007). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and their effects on relationship satisfaction. The Family Journal, 15(4), 392–397. doi:10.1177/1066480707305470

Perilloux, H. K., Webster, G. D., & Gaulin, S. C. (2010). Signals of genetic quality and maternal investment capacity: The dynamic effects of fluctuating asymmetry and waist-to-hip ratio on men’s ratings of women’s attractiveness. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1(1), 34–42. doi:10.1177/1948550609349514

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.

Scheele, D., Striepens, N., Güntürkün, O., Deutschländer, S., Maier, W., Kendrick, K. M., & Hurlemann, R. (2012). Oxytocin modulates social distance between males and females. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(46), 16074–16079. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2755-12.2012

Schneiderman, I., Zagoory-Sharon, O., Leckman, J. F., & Feldman, R. (2012). Oxytocin during the initial stages of romantic attachment: Relations to couples’ interactive reciprocity. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 37(8), 1277–1285. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2011.12.021

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.

Thornhill, R., Gangestad, S. W., & Comer, R. (1995). Human female orgasm and mate fluctuating asymmetry. Animal Behaviour, 50(6), 1601-1615.

Weeden, J., & Sabini, J. (2005). Physical attractiveness and health in Western societies: A review. Psychological Bulletin, 131(5), 635–653. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.131.5.635