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Scientists just published a new study looking at bunnies having sex while on prozac to determine their theory that the female orgasm is useful beyond just reproductive needs. Yep! (You can read that over again, but you read it right the first time.)
Gunter Wagner, a professor at Yale, and Mihaela Pavlicev, a professor from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, published the study in PNAS, and hypothesized that the female orgasm “was [a] happy evolutionary gift inherited from older lineages of animals who only ovulate during copulation,” according to a press release on the Yale site. In other words, women used to orgasm back in the day because it helped them make babies. But as we’ve evolved, we’ve lost that reproductive perk, but have still maintained our ability to orgasm. Why? Well, that’s what researchers are trying to find out. But first, they needed to do a few tests on animals who still ovulate because they’ve had sex… enter: Rabbits.
Fun facts: Bunnies have their clits on the inside of their reproductive tracts (as opposed to just outside and to the north of it, like humans), and (to be clear), they only ovulate when sex occurs—AKA rabbits do not have a monthly period cycle like humans do, and will only release eggs if they’ve had sex.
With their theory in mind, the scientists gave some female bunnies Prozac (an SSRI known to cause sexual side effects like difficulty orgasming) and others nothing to test how their ovulation while having sex on the drug (with a male bunny named Frank, btw). The results showed that when on Prozac, the female bunnies reproductive systems were reduced in function because they weren’t orgasming.
Useful translation: If human women have continued to evolve for 50 MILLION YEARS with the ability to orgasm, it must serve some other benefit beyond reproduction. FASCINATING.
“Reproduction is not the only important biological function,” Dr. Wagner explained in a phone call with Cosmopolitan. “I mean, survival and being able to fight off infections and so on, or dealing with stress are equally important as reproduction, right? So we shouldn’t reduce female sexuality.”
Damn straight. Plus, female orgasm is known to release oxytocin, which supports Wagner’s curiosity that perhaps the female orgasm has other more important functionality, like in immunology, stress management, or something else.
And while at first glance, you might be jealous that bunnies have their clits on the inside of their reproductive tracts, Wagner actually suggests that the evolution of the human clitoris to migrate north means we’re winning.
Think about it: If ovulation was still tied only to sex, any rogue orgasm could throw your cycle out of whack. With the clitoris on the outside of your reproductive tract, you’re free to have as many orgasms as frequently as you want, without impacting your reproductive system. Basically, it sounds like our clits setting up shop further north gives women the freedom to freely orgasm without any unintended reproductive consequences. We’re having our cake and eating it, too.
As for Frank’s qualifications as the sole male rabbit in this study? Dr. Wagner says it came down to cost. They could only afford one male bunny, and it made sense to cut down the variables and use the same male throughout the experiment. Frank was simply chosen at random. “He was just a lucky bunny,” Wagner said.