Off on a slightly different tangent today… Ever pondered the mystery of the female orgasm? Ponder no more. Excerpt:
Writing in the journal JEZ-Molecular and Developmental Evolution, Pavličev and co-author Günter Wagner from Yale University describe how they delved into the anatomy and behaviour of a host of placental mammals to uncover the evolutionary origin of female orgasm, based on the hormonal surges associated with it.
In mammals such as cats and rabbits, these surges occur during sex and play a crucial role in signalling for eggs to be released from the female’s ovaries. By contrast in a variety of other mammals, including humans and other primates, females ovulate spontaneously.
By tracing these mechanisms of ovulation across the evolutionary tree of mammals, the authors found that so-called “male-induced ovulation” predates spontaneous ovulation, with spontaneous ovulation likely to have arisen in the common ancestor of primates and rodents around 75 million years ago.
That, they say, suggests that human female orgasm could have its roots in a mechanism for the release of eggs during sex – a mechanism that became redundant with the evolution of spontaneous ovulation, with female orgasm potentially going on to acquire other roles.
Other roles, like… Well, let’s not delve into that just now, all right?
The article suggests that, in humans, the feminine orgasm may have outlived its original evolutionary purpose. I suppose that’s possible, but pleasure can have an evolutionary purpose too. The prime driver of biological evolution is differential reproductive success, after all – and when the prime method of reproduction is fun, doesn’t that make reproduction more likely?
One would tend to think so. Behavior, whether in humans or in rats, is a series of continually reinforcing feedback loops. We do more of what we enjoy and less of what we don’t. Humans, to be sure, have developed the capacity of long-term planning in which we defer immediate pleasures for the attainment of long-term goals, but in the end, our actions always serve to increase our own satisfaction with life.
Sex feels good, so we keep doing it. It’s not any more complicated than that.
And, yes, this scene sure didn’t do Meg Ryan’s career any harm.