University of Cambridge > > Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars > Individual variation in female orgasmic capacity: pre-natal androgen, sociosexuality and the menstrual cycle

Individual variation in female orgasmic capacity: pre-natal androgen, sociosexuality and the menstrual cycle

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Anke Plagnol.

The causes and consequences of individual variation in female orgasmic capacity, and of sex differences in orgasmic ease, and the ultimate evolutionary reason for these variations/differences remain poorly understood. The underlying mechanisms (e.g. hormonal factors, conception risk factors or anatomical factors) implicated in the variation in female orgasmic ease are not known. It is also as yet unclear whether ease of orgasm could be linked to differential sexual behavioural outcomes and whether these vary not only between women but also in relation to fertility. Pinpointing the underlying mechanisms responsible for this variability (such as anatomical differences in genitalia and/or hormonal levels) and the resulting orgasmic response, would shed light on the female orgasm’s evolutionary raison d’être. The first study aimed to better characterize normal variation in female orgasmic response in relationship to anatomy of the external genitalia and to a physical correlate of prenatal androgen exposure. The results suggested that individual differences in sexual anatomy might be implicated in differences in coital orgasmic ease. They also suggested that hormones acting pre-natally (measured by a physical correlate of pre-natal androgen exposure) may influence clitoral size among healthy women and hence, perhaps, coital orgasmic ease. In the second study, results showed that women who reported being able to orgasm from coitus alone reported a higher lifetime number of sexual partners, a higher number of one off sexual encounters and a higher number of extra-pair partners after controlling for age. These women also had higher scores on the sociosexuality inventory (SOI), i.e. had a more permissive sexual attitude. In the third study results indicated that the occurrence of coitus, and the desire for coitus in heterosexual couples is higher when conception risk is highest. Also, there was a non-significant positive relationship between the occurrence of the female orgasm from coitus and conception risk. Findings are discussed within an evolutionary psychology framework.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Seminars series.

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