For a more complete description of the female sexual sexual response cycle
with images, click here.
Sexual Response Cycles
phase, the vaginal lips become even puffier. The tissues of the walls of
the outer third of the vagina swell with blood and the opening to the
vagina narrows. The clitoris may appear to be lost somewhere in its hood.
Breathing and pulse rate quicken. A "sex flush" may appear on the stomach,
breasts, shoulders, neck, or face. The areolas of the nipples may swell.
Many of a woman's muscles, like those in the thighs, hips, hands, or
buttocks, may tighten.
Masters and Johnson (two ground-breaking sex therapists) divided the
sexual response cycle into four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and
resolution. There is no distinct beginning or end to each phase; they are
actually part of a continuous process of sexual response. Following is a
description of the changes that occur in a
woman's body when she is stimulated to orgasm.
As a woman becomes aroused, blood starts to accumulate in the pelvic area.
Vaginal lubrication begins. (The presence of lubrication does not
necessarily mean that a woman is ready for intercourse. And it's certainly
no indication of being close to an orgasm! Penetration would be much more
pleasurable if other forms of stimulation were continued for awhile
As sexual stimulation continues, the vagina
expands and lengthens. The outer lips, inner lips, clitoris, and sometimes
the breasts begin to look swollen or enlarged. More...
Just before orgasm, the inner labia (lips)
change color (although it's a bit hard to notice when in the throes of
passion). For women who've never had children, they turn from pink to
bright red. In women who've had children, the color goes from bright red
to deep purple or burgundy. More ....
breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure continue to rise. The mounting
muscular tension and engorgement of blood vessels reaches a peak. Orgasm
During orgasm, the first third of the vaginal
walls contract rhythmically every .8 second for a brief period. (The
number and intensity of the contractions vary depending on the individual
orgasm.) The muscles of the uterus will also contract. In many women, the
contractions are barely noticeable. Sometimes the orgasm comes with a
reflex grasping-type muscular response of the hands and feet. Some women
feel warmth emanating from their genitals.
Since orgasm is most often triggered by clitoral
stimulation, the excitement usually stops if the stimulation stops. Any
incomplete release can be frustrating. Consistent, continuous stimulation
in the particular way each woman wants it is required to bring a woman to
Resolution: This is
when the genitals return to their normal resting state. This phase can
last from a few minutes to a half hour or longer. Swelling recedes, any
sex flush will disappear, and there is a general relaxation of muscular
tension. The uterus and clitoris return to their usual position. Some
women experience soreness in their clitoral area for a few minutes after