Do other animals experience pleasurable female orgasms?

"cheese" by rogersmithpix,  on FlickrYes, other species experience pleasurable female orgasms, or at least it appears that way. It is hard, after all, to ask the female chimp after her artificial ‘stimulation’ in the lab how it felt. But the signs are all there – the chimps exhibit most of the same indications of orgasm as women do:

In 1981, a research paper in the American Journal of Primatology stated that the signs of female orgasm include, “hyperventilation, involuntary muscle tension, arm and leg spasms, [and] grimacing,” among others that were slightly more graphic.

Orgasms aren’t limited to just chimps: a 1998 paper published in Animal Behaviour on the orgasm rate of Japanese macaques mentions that, “under specific circumstances, nonhuman primate females may experience orgasm.” The primates in general then, appear to be lucky in this regard. However, they quickly add that the occurrences of female orgasms are highly variable. The social situation seems to be an important factor in whether the females orgasm… at least for Japanese macaques.

Bisexual monkeys and odd animal fetishes

The gender of the female’s partner however, may not be as important. In a 1974 paper entitled (get ready for it), “Male-Female, Female-Female, and Male-Male sexual behavior in the stumptail monkey, with special attention to the female orgasm,” researchers discovered that females could orgasm regardless of their partner’s sex.

While it may be more difficult to judge if non-primate species are indeed having orgasms, a 1979 paper in American Anthropologist lists many examples of “non-reproductive sexual behavior” in other animals: dogs that aren’t in heat rubbing themselves on “any suitable object”, a cat with “shoe fetishism,” and dolphins that masturbate (Researchers have more recently graced us with a video of dolphin spontaneous ejaculation). Slightly more alarming, one “male dolphin carried a dead female about for five hours, copulating with her several times.”

Even “Birds feel the rub” as an article was titled in Nature in 2001. The red-billed buffalo weaver has a “remarkable false phallus,” which is quite unusual for birds as most males don’t have any phallus at all. It seems the penis-like protuberance is meant as a signal of high sperm quality and doesn’t actually enter the female. However, the male rubs it on females and reaches what looks like orgasm: the male bird “shuddered and its eyes glazed over.” So, while it’s still unknown whether orgasm extends to the female red-billed buffalo weaver, it seems that orgasms aren’t just a human trait after all.

Answer by Autumn Sartain

Question from Louise Allan via Facebook


Allen, M., & Lemmon, W. (1981). Orgasm in female primates American Journal of Primatology, 1 (1), 15-34 DOI: 10.1002/ajp.1350010104

TROISI, A., & CAROSI, M. (1998). Female orgasm rate increases with male dominance in Japanese macaques Animal Behaviour, 56 (5), 1261-1266 DOI: 10.1006/anbe.1998.0898

Chevalier-Skolnikoff, S. (1974). Male-Female, Female-Female, and Male-Male sexual behavior in the stumptail monkey, with special attention to the female orgasm Archives of Sexual Behavior, 3 (2), 95-116 DOI: 10.1007/BF01540994

Article by Autumn Sartain

March 14, 2014

Autumn Sartain’s favourite thing is spending time in nature, which is why she chose to be a wildlife research ecologist. Over the past ten years she has grappled with sea turtles in the tropics, chased song birds in the mountains and sifted through Antarctic seafloor samples. She also somehow managed to carve out the time to gain a postgraduate qualification in Biology. Autumn writes about biology, conservation, and the environmental / outdoor lifestyle – you can find out about her and her writing at

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