Sexual Response Cycle

Sex is a huge topic in society today. Many people believe that sex is too prevalent, and others believe that the more mainstream it is, the better. Aside from societal issues, there are also physical issues surrounding sex. Sexual desire, and the need for orgasm is found in almost everyone. Evidence shows that there are four phases of sexual response that everyone goes through. The four stages are as follows: excitement, plateau, orgasmic, and resolution. There are also some common sexual dysfunctions that are common in men and women.

Whether or not people want sex to be prevalent, it is, and it is always better to be well-informed. The first phase of sexual response is the excitement phase. This when the body begins to realize that something sexual is going on. The initial feelings of arousal will start during this phase. These feelings can be brought on by thoughts and emotions, as well as physical contact. Physical changes that occur for both men and women during this phase are increased heart rate, blood pressure, and muscular tension.

Males will become slightly erect during this stage, and females will have swelling of their clitoris and hardened nipples. The vagina also begins to become lubricated during this phase. The next phase is the plateau phase. During this phase, the blood flow to the genitals is increased in order to prepare the body for orgasm. Both men and women will notice even more increased blood pressure and muscle tension during this phase, and their breathing will become more rapid and heavier. They may both also experience a flush on different parts of their bodies.

For men, the testes will be pulled up into the scrotum, and the penis is now fully erect. According to Nevid (2007), the tip of the penis will turn a deep, reddish purple, and the testes will now be completely elevated. He will also start to leak fluid containing live sperm cells. In women, the opening of the vagina narrows the clitoris goes back inside the hood, while the uterus elevates and gets larger. The female’s vagina will also continue to swell, and the lips will change color. The orgasmic phase is the shortest of all four phases, and it is the highest point of sexual pleasure.

During this phase, the muscles of both men and women actually contract and a sudden discharge is released. In men, this consists of two different contractions. Nevid (2007) explains that during the first contraction, semen gathers at the base of the penis, and then the second contraction ejaculates it out of the penis. While orgasms vary in length, women often having longer ones, and can often have multiple ones during the same session of intercourse. The fourth and final phase is resolution. This is the phase when the body returns to an unaroused state.

All of the elevated physical changes that took place in the first three stages begin to return to normal. The female’s vagina returns to normal size, and the man’s penis goes flaccid as well. While women can immediately begin the excitement phase again, men experience a refractory period, which is a period of time where the man would not be able to ejaculate again. This time period varies widely from man to man. While the four phases of sexual response are typical to everyone, the time it takes to move between the four phases varies from one person to the next.

Another issue that can vary is whether or not someone in the partnership is experiencing sexual dysfunction. As Nevid (2007) reported, women often experienced painful sex, lack of pleasure, inability to orgasm, and lack of interest in sex. Men reported their main problems as being performance anxiety, and reaching orgasm too quickly. Those common symptoms led to five different sexual dysfunctions: Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Female Sexual Arousal Disorder, Male Erectile Disorder, Orgasmic Disorder, and Premature Ejaculation.

Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD) is a lack of sex drive or lack of sexual fantasies. It is more common in women. Physical causes include heart disease or menopause, and psychological problems such as self-image or marital problems can also lead to HSDD. Medications such as antihypertensives, antidepressants, and birth control pills can lead to decreased sexual appetite. Common methods of treatment include psychotherapy to try and discern and treat any underlying cause of loss of sexual desire, reducing current medications, or even increasing testosterone levels.

Sufferers of Female Sexual Arousal Disorder do not have a lack of desire for sexual activity, but they are unable to produce lubrication and vaginal swelling for the duration of intercourse. These women have a sex drive, but their bodies are physically unable to do the normal things that happen during sex. Again, psychotherapy is often prescribed to help the woman work through any underlying issues she may have. The best medications right now are topical creams that can help with lubrication. Male Erectile Disorder is diagnosed if a man is unable to form or maintain an erection during the course of sexual activity.

The man has desire, but is physically unable to maintain an erection. He must have this as a persistent or recurring problem, not just occasionally. It also should be frequent enough that it causes difficulty in his partnerships. Psychotherapy is often a part of the treatment plan, as well as drugs, implants, or even surgery. Orgasmic Disorder affects both men and women. Those who suffer from this can go through the excitement and plateau phases, but they cannot have orgasms. Because they are physically able to get aroused, doctors attribute this disorder to psychological issues, and recommend psychotherapy.

Premature Ejaculation is when a man cannot sustain sexual activity without quickly ejaculating. This affects many men at some time in their sexual lives. Sometimes it can be a one-time occurrence, and other times it can be a persistent problem. Going slow, and using different strategies during sex can help a man delay his ejaculation. If the problem is persistent, medications such as Prozac have also been shown to work. Sex is a large part of most adults’ lives. It is important to understand the different phases of sexual responses, as well as typical dysfunctions that may occur during the course of one’s life.

The four phases of sexual response, excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution, are all important for the best sexual experience. If any of the typical dysfunctions, including Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, Female Sexual Arousal Disorder, Male Erectile Disorder, Orgasmic Disorder, and Premature Ejaculation occur, therapy may be the best and least invasive treatments. Medications are becoming more readily available for those who suffer more severely. References Nevid, J. (2007). Psychology and the challenges of life: adjustment in the new millennium. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

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