Sexual Health and Wellness

THE SEXUAL RESPONSE CYCLE

An individual’s sexual response is psychophysiological of nature. Arousal is triggered by both psychological (e.g., fantasy and emotion) and physical (e.g., her gorgeous smile and sexy bum) stimuli; levels of tension are experiences both physiologically (e.g., heart rate increases) and emotionally (e.g., pleasant feelings); and with orgasm, there is normally a subjective perception of a peak of physical reaction (e.g., tense muscles).  Your psychosexual development, attitude toward sex and sexuality, and attitude towards your partner are directly linked to your sexual response. What is exciting is unique to each woman.  Some women are aroused when their breasts are fondled; other women prefer other kinds of touch.  Learning what kind of physical contact you enjoy is an important part of learning about your sexual self.  The female sexual response cycle consists of four phases:

  • Phase 1: Excitement;
  • Phase 2: Plateau;
  • Phase 3: Orgasm;  and
  • Phase 4: Resolution.

You may not experience all four stages every time you are sexually active.  Most women find there are many times when sexual play involves only the first one or two stages.  Some women never or rarely have orgasms.  Both physical and social/emotional issues can be barriers to a woman’s sexual response.  What follows is a descriptive table of the phases (sourced from Womens Health Matters  www.womenshealthmatters.ca).