Orgasms feel pretty freakin’ awesome, which we’ve always figured was reason enough for women to have them. But apparently, they originally served a much more functional purpose.
According to a new study in JEZ-Molecular and Developmental Evolution, researchers have determined that the biological process that evolved into your big O likely had a role in inducing ovulation.
For the study, the researchers looked at ovulation across different species. Among humans, orgasming (or not) while you have sex doesn’t impact your chances of reproducing—but it does have a big physiological effect. Climaxing produces a massive neuro-endocrine surge of prolactin and oxytocin in your brain—the hormones that give you those tingly, dreamy, love-drunk vibes post-O.
Interestingly, researchers discovered that other mammals also experience a similar surge of prolactin and oxytocin when they ovulate. According to the researchers, the human female orgasm probably originally played a role in ovulation, too. But as our reproductive cycles evolved to ovulate at the same time every month (other mammals tend to ovulate based on the potential for sex), the orgasm was no longer needed. So it’s like a really awesome spare part that’s no longer totally necessary to make things run smoothly.
The researchers also found something else in our evolutionary history that supports this theory: The clit has moved. Originally, it was located inside your vag, making a climax way more likely during actual intercourse. The fact that it (sadly) moved over time suggests that orgasms aren’t necessary for successful coitus—when it comes to producing babies, that is.