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Understanding Sexual Response Cycle

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Everything happens in phases be it in sexual relationships too. The sexual response cycle directs to the series of physical arousal and emotional responses that happen as an individual experiences being sexually aroused and indulges in sexually stimulating activities, including coitus and masturbation. Knowing how your body reacts during each phase of the cycle can enhance your sexual relationship and help you pinpoint the cause of any sexual problems.

People often misunderstand the concept of arousing and stimulating till the extent of closure or climax. The sexual response cycle is a type of model of physical arousal and emotional swaps that happens when you are participating in sexual activity. There are four phases in this cycle. Orgasm is the shortest phase.

There is a high reason for being involved both emotionally and physical arousal in order to attain full satisfaction and that’s why there are phases to fully feeling that way. 

The sexual response cycle has been outlined as consisting of four phases:

  1. Desire or fantasy.
  2. Physical Arousal (excitement).
  3. Orgasm.
  4. Resolution.

Both men and women can undergo these stages, although the timing can vary from person to person. Just like, it’s highly unexpected that both individuals will have an orgasm at the same moment. In addition, the intensity of the reaction and the time spent in each phase differs from person to person. Many women won’t experience these sexual phases in this manner.

Some of these levels may be missing during some sexual activities, or out of order in others. A desire for intimacy may be the right push for coitus activity in some individuals to occur in the first place. Mastering these differences may aid life partners to better apprehend one another’s bodies and responses, and improve their sexual ability.

Numerous physiologic changes may happen during different phases of sexual activity. Individuals may get involved in some, all or none of these exchanges.

Phase 1: Desire

The sexual response cycle starts with this phase. General attributes of this desire phase, which can last from a few minutes to several hours, and may consist of any of the following:

  • Muscle tension increases.
  • Rapid heartbeats and breath
  • The skin may get flushed (blotches of redness may appear on the chest and back)
  • Nipples become hardened or erect
  • Blood flow to the genitals rises, which emerges in swelling of the woman’s clitoris and labia minora, and erection of the man’s penis.
  • Vaginal lubrication may start to flow
  • The woman’s breasts get fuller and the vaginal walls start swelling
  • The man’s testicles swell, his scrotum tightens, and he starts discharging a lubricating liquid.

It’s crucial to note that everyone’s sexual experience is not the same. Some may not constantly undergo the above. Not only can this be similar between individuals, but can also vary in a person between different sexual contacts. Occasionally the desire phase may come after physical arousal.

Phase 2: Physical Arousal

General aspects of this phase, which leads to the verge of orgasm, include the following aspects:

  • The changes felt in the first phase get more passionate.
  • The woman’s clitoris turns highly sensitive (may even be painful to touch).
  • The man’s testicles are introverted up into the scrotum.
  • Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure resume to rise.
  • Muscle spasms may set about in the feet, face, and hands.
  • Tension in the muscles increases.

Phase 3: Orgasm

This phase is the end result of the sexual response cycle i.e. climax. It’s the fleeting moment of the phases and generally lasts only a few seconds. General features of this phase include the following points:

  • Involuntary muscle contractions initiate.
  • Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing are at their elevated rates, with a rapid increase in oxygen.
  • Muscles in the feet spasm.
  • There is a sudden, forceful delivery of sexual tension.
  • In women, the muscles of the vagina shrink. The uterus may also go through rhythmic contractions.
  • In men, rhythmic contractions of the muscles at the base of the penis yield in the ejaculation of semen.
  • A rash may be visible over the entire body.

Also Read: Refractory Period: Why Aren’t You Always Ready For The Second Round?

Phase 4: Resolution

At the time of this phase, the body slowly comes to its normal level of original functioning and erect body parts become normal to their original size and colour. This phase is proven in some by a general sense of well-being and, often, fatigue. Some women are efficient of a rapid return to the orgasm phase with further sexual stimulation and may undergo multiple orgasms. Men typically need retrieval time after orgasm, called a refractory period, during which they cannot reach orgasm again. The time duration of the refractory period varies among individuals and changes with age.

Bottom Line

One doesn’t always want to go through phases but your partner’s needs are also important for the sexual relationship to be intense. A pattern or psychological aspects should be followed in order to gain what both parties desire. 

In both men and women, these instances are identified drastically from starting phase to end phase. Continuously striving for these stages will make the outcome promising. The sexual response cycle is necessary to understand your partner’s patterns of lovemaking. 

Clarity is what one strives for to acknowledge the fact that one cannot ignore the real feelings that come with it, if these phases are not felt then there are high chances that something is missing. 

Some self-care tips are to be followed to be really active in your sexual relationship like exercising regularly and eating foods that increase your desire of love for your partner and resting properly with adequate sleep. 

Providers may choose to use these sexual response cycle models to explain common physical arousal to sexual stimulation to patients, but in doing so, they should bear in mind that all individuals and sexual experiences are unique. It may be beneficial for a provider to share with patients (particularly those experiencing sexual dysfunction) that sex can be pleasurable and satisfying even without an orgasm and suggest ways to foster sexual intimacy between partners that are not orgasm-focused.


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