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For a more complete description of the female sexual sexual response cycle with images, click here.
Sexual Response Cycles

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.

Excitement: 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 longer.)

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...


Plateau: During this 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.

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 ....

Orgasm: A woman's breathing, pulse rate, and blood pressure continue to rise. The mounting muscular tension and engorgement of blood vessels reaches a peak. Orgasm occurs.

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 orgasm. More...

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 orgasm. More...

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