A friend of mine, knowing I’m forever on the hunt for interesting blog topics, recently forwarded an article from The New York Times, “Scientists Ponder An Evolutionary Mystery: The Female Orgasm.” My interest, among other things, was aroused at once. This, after all, is literary candy for an erotic romance writer. I devoured it with gusto.
Here’s the lowdown from the article: scientists have long pondered the purpose of the female orgasm and have put forth multiple theories. Yet to date there’s been no singular agreement. It’s a byproduct of the male orgasm, say some. It’s meant to ensure females want to have sex and thus aiding the men in procreation, insist others. Then there’s a third camp that says the female orgasm is a biological function for fertility. The cervical contractions “suck up” male sperm and heighten the chances of conception. (Like a vacuum, I suppose. The Hoover theory?) The big problem there, unsurprisingly, is that since orgasms during sex are difficult for so many women, it seems rather suspect that they would play such a pivotal role in conception.
That last theory, however, the one about aiding in conception, is just the perspective a couple of evolutionary biologists are offering, except with a twist. They say the orgasm did indeed once serve an essential purpose toward helping females become pregnant. But here’s the fun part: it’s because in ancient female mammals, the clitorus used to be inside the vagina.
Come again? Ye ol’ happy button on the inside, where all the action takes place? Talk about hot times on the ancient mammal playground. But that’s exactly what Drs. Mihaela Pavličev and Günter Wagner are arguing in their new theory, published in The Journal of Experimental Zoology.
In conducting their research, the two biologists looked at the evolution of early mammals distantly related to humans. They discovered that ancient female mammals used to ovulate only after copulation with a male, versus having a regular ovulation cycle that occurs regardless of sexual activity. Because social groups among early mammals weren’t developed as they are today, a female aardvark, for example, might be waiting a good long time between rounds of sexy time with a hot male aardvark. When the two finally did come together and get down to business, it was essential that she made the most of her chances for conception. So having her clitoris inside the vagina made sure the female had an orgasm which, in turn, sent a signal to the brain to release an egg for fertilizatin. Ah, nature. Beautiful how that works.
As evolution marched on, mammals’ social dynamics changed and they began hanging out together on a regular basis. Females had more access to regular sex so, the reseachers theorize, the clitoris was no longer needed in that strategic location. Over time it moved away from its original position to the frustrating spot where it is today.
As intriguing as this sounds, it’s still just so much speculation, apparently. Even the researchers who published the paper admit that their findings don’t definitively settle the argument about why the female orgasm exists. But while I’ll leave the evoluationary biologists to continue pondering that question, the erotic writer in me is thinking there’s a good story in all of this. Say I have a heroine, for example, raised deep in an ancient jungle, one of those places that are nearly impossible to reach except by the most determined of explorers. And let’s say I have a hero who’s a determined explorer. He’s a scientist. And he’s hot, naturally. Somehow he’s able to overcome hostile guardian tribes, wild animals, thick terrain, and nasty bugs and he comes upon our heroine. Our heroine who, by the way, hasn’t evolved the same way as modern women so she’s still got the clitoris-inside-the-vagina thing going on. They have wild sex, and it’s amazing, and his mind is blown by her lusty orgasmic ability. But then he wants her to come back with him to the modern world. All kinds of problems there, right? Not the least of which is resistance from a hunky member of the guardian tribe who’d like nothing more than to blow the hero’s mind himself, but in an entirely different way…
Nothing like having some scientists pass along a book idea.