If you have spent any time at all on the Internet, you’ve seen pictures of girls making a flirty, lips pushed out expression, or what has come to be known as the "duck face." Those who make this face in pictures may be doing so to emulate Kim Kardashian or because they think it makes them look more attractive. Clearly, women who "duck face" are trying to emphasize their lips, which according to scientists reveals quite a bit of information.
How They Did It
Researchers in Scotland aimed to determine whether the shape of women’s lips indicated something about those women’s sexual activities and orgasms.1 To test this, the researchers surveyed hundreds of participants regarding their sexual experiences. For example, women indicated how often they engaged in various sexual behaviors (e.g., intercourse, masturbation, etc.) and how often they experienced orgasm in the past 30 days. Study participants were also asked about the shape of their tubercles. Any idea what that is? Well, a tubercle is the area in the middle of the upper lip where there is an indentation. (Note: I could have titled this article “Show Me Your Tubercle” but it didn’t seem to have the same ring to it). To gather this information, researchers asked women to “Look closely in a mirror at the centre (that’s British for ‘center’) of your lip. Compared to the part of your top lip next to the centre, is the centre: a) prominently and sharply raised, b) prominently and gradually raised, c) slightly and sharply raised, d) slightly and gradually raised, e) flat, f) slightly lower than flat, g) no mirror available now.” I will now pause, while you check your tubercle in the mirror.
You back yet? Great. Let’s continue…
What They Found
Based on a few hundred respondents who were sexually active and able to provide lip characterizations (some had trouble deciding which lip shape they were), women with a prominent and sharply raised tubercle were more likely to report ever experiencing a vaginal orgasm due to penile-vaginal intercourse and to report having more of these orgasms in the last month compared to women in other tubercle categories. Interestingly, tubercle shape did not relate to likelihood of experiencing orgasm through other methods (e.g., masturbation). The savvy reader of research may wonder if the participants could have just lied about their lip shape. However, given the nature of the lip measurement question, it would have been hard for participants to know what the “good” answer was. Participants could have lied about their number of orgasms but it is hard to imagine that it occurred in any systematic pattern related to lip shape.
What the Results Mean For You
These results suggest that there may be something to people’s fascination with Angelina Jolie’s lips after all. What it doesn’t suggest is that women should go out and get plastic surgery to change their lip shape in hopes of having more orgasmic sex. Rather, a woman’s lip shape is a biological marker, most likely resulting from prenatal factors. Those factors, probably hormones, also relate to sexual experience. Thus, the link between lips and orgasms has more to do with hormones than anything else. Of course, you could try having lots of orgasms to see if changes your lip shape, you know, in the name of science.
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Brody, S., & Costa, R. (2011). Vaginal orgasm is more prevalent among women with a prominent tubercle of the upper lip. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 8(10), 2793-2799. doi:10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02331.x
Dr. Gary Lewandowski - Science of Relationships articles | Website
Dr. Lewandowski's research explores the self’s role in romantic relationships focusing on attraction, relationship initiation, love, infidelity, relationship maintenance, and break-up. Recognized as one of the Princeton Review’s Top 300 Professors, he has also authored dozens of publications for both academic and non-academic audiences.