Omegaverse is more popular than ever. There are more m/m stories, but m/f and poly stories are also a big hit with readers.
I’ve written a fair bit about omegaverse before: why it’s popular, where it came from, and even some of the basics that can help you get a handle on what the NYT dubbed “wolf-kink erotica.”
This omegaverse FAQ takes a deeper dive into the trope, answering some of the most common questions people ask.
What This Omegaverse FAQ Does Not Do
This isn’t a primer. If you’re unfamiliar with what the omegaverse is, then you can try out this post. I also don’t go over the history of this worldbuilding trope (I covered those questions here).
This FAQ is more about the questions that crop up for readers who are somewhat familiar with omegaverse. They’re in-verse questions more often than not. You won’t find answers to things like “what is the omegaverse” here. This post goes more into the nitty-gritty of how the omegaverse (usually) works.
A Caveat for the Omegaverse FAQ: Everyone Does Omegaverse Differently
These answers are “generally speaking.” I’ve been reading and writing a/b/o stories since before they were called the omegaverse, so the answers here are a sort of “rule of thumb,” so to speak.
That means that the answers are the most likely answers; they’re based on what seems to be most common right now, based on a fairly wide sample of the trope. That doesn’t mean this will be true across the board. Some writers might go another way. In the future, another answer might become more common.
So, without further ado, here are some answers to common questions about the omegaverse.
Can an Omega Have Two Alphas?
The answer to this particular question is highly dependent on the writer. The short answer is yes.
In most a/b/o stories, an omega can indeed have more than one alpha. This can be used to set up stories where an omega breaks up or needs to be rescued from an abusive alpha or a bad match. It can also set up “second chance” romance stories, where an omega has been abandoned or “widowed.”
Can an omega have two alphas at the same time? Again, this is ‘verse dependent. Some writers will absolutely allow an omega to have multiple alphas. This is often the set up for the “reverse harem” trope (like I do in The Raven Before the Dove).
Another example is Leta Blake’s Heat of Love series, where omegas have a “fated mate” (erogaspe), but they can have relationships with other alphas. These arrangements may not be as fulfilling as their fated mate. Some omegas form relationships with multiple alphas, although this is incredibly rare (but see Book 2 in the series).
For some writers, though, the answer to this question is no. This is more likely to be the case when someone is invoking the “fated mate” trope (see Leta Blake’s work for an exception, though). Fated mates are unlikely to have other partners, because they’re waiting for their “one true love.” Even when fated mates is in play, though, some writers will subvert this to create threesomes or moresomes.
What Do Omegas Release When in Heat?
This one is easy: pheromones!
Pheromones are a real thing released at various times by mammals. Most famously, they’re released by female mammals in estrus. This signals to nearby males that the female animal is receptive to mating. (Many female animals are aggressive outside of their estrus period, and they won’t tolerate dudes mounting them.)
Even humans release pheromones, although we’re still doing research on how this affects us. Some studies say this is responsible for “menstruation synchronization” among period-having humans who live together. There’s also some thought that pheromones are responsible for subtle shifts in how attractive men perceive a person with a uterus to be at any point in the menstrual cycle.
In omegaverse, omegas produce pheromones much like cats or dogs (or wolves). When the omega is in heat and receptive to mating, they release pheromones.
Alphas also release pheromones, usually in response to the omega. In some cases, alpha pheromones can induce a heat in an omega. Alpha pheromones usually signal the omega to submit, while also telling all other alphas to back off.
What Do Alphas Smell Like?
Since our alphas are releasing pheromones, this is a natural next question for our omegaverse FAQ: What do alphas smell like?
This one is super dependent on the writer. In most cases, writers will say every alpha (and every omega) has a unique scent that identifies them. (This is similar to how wolves and other territorial animals have unique identifiers in their scents, which gives rise to scent-marking behavior.)
Alphas most often are associated with “masculine” scents, like pine, leather, whiskey, or smoke. Omegas tend to be associated with more “feminine” scents, although lots of writers will turn this on its head.
What Does It Mean When an Omega Is in Heat?
“Heat” is a colloquial term for estrus, the scientific term for when a female mammal is receptive to mating. This usually means the animal is ovulating. In short: the animal is really horny.
Omegaverse writers adapted this idea and applied it to their omega characters. Omega characters usually undergo “heat,” which is a period of intense sexual desire. Some common features of “heat cycles” in omegaverse include:
- A fever
- Loss of control
- Sexual desperation
- Producing pheromones
Omegas are often not in control or thinking straight when they’re in heat, which can lead to sexual indiscretion. This can be the basis for oppression of omegas in omegaverse. It’s also used as the basis of relationships with “good” alphas, who have to take good care of their omegas while they’re in this vulnerable state.
Do Omegas Get Periods?
Most of the time, no. I haven’t read a lot of M/F omegaverse, so those stories may be somewhat different. Still, I’d argue it would be silly to make omegas have a period.
Humans are the only mammal that have periods, and we have a fairly suppressed “heat” cycle (called hidden estrus). Basically, most people who ovulate have no idea they’re in a fertile period. That’s why we have ovulation tracking apps and stuff like that.
Wolves, cats, dogs, and other mammals have very overt estrus cycles. They also don’t shed the lining of their wombs like humans do. Instead, they simply reabsorb it. So, it seems like hidden estrus and menstruation go hand-in-hand.
Since the omegas in omegaverse have very obvious heat cycles, it would make sense they wouldn’t then have menstruation.
Can a Male Omega Get Pregnant?
It depends on who you’re reading! I’ve argued the omegaverse trope is basically a giant mpreg set-up. A lot of omegaverse fics incorporate mpreg. If the story doesn’t explicitly explore it, then the writer might simply include the set-up for it.
In some stories, male omegas cannot get pregnant, though. The usual argument here is that male omegas undergo heat cycles, just like female omegas, but they don’t have a womb or ovaries. In that case, they can’t get pregnant.
Omegaverse is a very flexible trope on this point, allowing for a lot of exploration of gender and even sex. So, the answer to this question is almost always dependent on who is writing the story. (Some people love mpreg, and others do not, even if we all love omegaverse.)
How Do Male Omegas Give Birth?
In stories that do feature mpreg, you might wonder how that works. How do male omegas even give birth?
Again, this is highly dependent on the writer. Sometimes, it even varies between stories by the same author. Generally speaking, there are three main ways male omegas give birth:
- Through the penis
- Through a secondary hole or birth canal
- Through the anus
Option 1 is pretty rare, although it is perhaps the most “obvious” answer. The penis is analogous to the female genitals in most mammals. That said, most of the time this option comes up, it’s being used as satire.
More Common Choices for Male Omegas Giving Birth
That said, most writers pick Options 2 or 3 more often. Option 3, through the butt, is the most common. This is likely because a lot of omegaverse is m/m romance, which means you have two male characters having sex. In many cases, this leads to anal sex, so the baby comes out the way it went in—the same as for most female mammals.
Option 2 is more common when writers are exploring gender and sex. In these stories, omegas—and male omegas in particular—might be intersex, in that they have functional genitals of “both” sexes. In these stories, writers usually opt to tell us that a male omega has a second hole, which is used for mating. This might be called a birth canal, a vagina, or simply hole.
Option 2 can make some people uncomfortable, especially if they signed up for gay romance. Some readers may feel that intersex omegas aren’t “really” male, and the use of language around this second hole can be contentious.
Nonetheless, these three solutions are also employed in mpreg. The “intersex” option often shows up there without much prelude. Writers might explain it as the omega having two canals inside, somewhat like birds have just the one entrance/exit, but in the story, either canal can be “shut off” or otherwise used to “direct” copulation. In other cases, the second hole only opens up when it’s time to give birth or when the omega is having sex.
In short: there’s no shortage of options on this.
Is Omegaverse Possible?
Having come to the end of our omegaverse FAQ, you might wonder if a world like this is real or even possible. The short answer is no, omegaverse is not really possible, not the way it’s portrayed in most books. At least, not in our present time, and it’s very unlikely that it would ever be possible.
That’s why it’s such a fun world building trope: it allows us to explore a society that maybe doesn’t exist. We can imagine, say, aliens or alternate evolutions that would make omegaverse possible.
Most of the omegaverse is based in science. As we saw above, omegaverse heat cycles are based on mammalian behavior in other species, and pheromones are absolutely a thing.
It’s unlikely, though, that having developed hidden estrus, that humans would “go back” to having very overt estrus cycles like what we see in omegaverse stories. This is why we see it happen a lot with “shifter” characters, like werewolves. These humanoid characters already have “animalistic” traits, so it makes sense their reproductive cycles might also be a bit more “wild” than those of modern humans.
So, unless a new dominant humanoid species evolved from, say, wolves or we started splicing human DNA with wolf DNA for some reason, it’s really unlikely we’d ever make the omegaverse happen. There’s just really not a compelling reason for it to exist at this point in time.
A Plausible “Soft Science” Explanation
The idea of “omegaverse” itself, where people are categorized as alpha, beta, or omega, is possible in one sense. These are linguistic categories that could be used to, say, describe sex versus gender. So we could still have men and women, but we’d also have alphas and omegas.
This would deconstruct the gender binary to some degree—in short, it would get rid of the need for designating individuals as trans.
A linguistic shift is a sociological phenomenon, not a scientific revolution or genetic engineering. So, in that sense, it’s completely plausible that humanity might one day shift the language we use to discuss sex and gender. Whether we adopt the language of a/b/o is another story entirely.
So, the short answer is no, the omegaverse is not really possible. Bits and pieces of it already exist, and there are some ways it could happen—but it’s unlikely we’d ever see anything that matches what happens in our books.
The Omegaverse FAQ Will Keep Evolving
These are just the most general answers to some of the questions in an omegaverse FAQ right now. In the future, as more writers adopt omegaverse world building and create new stories, the answers might be different.