Sexual Response Cycle

You would be surprised at the number of people I have talked to or heard about that have no idea how sex works. I think this is a very valuable and important place to start. For many reasons, the sexual response cycle isn’t always taught well. Parents assume their children will just figure it out. Or maybe a kid learns about it from his or her peers. Or maybe from the media. Maybe, it was too taboo to talk about sex in your family or with anybody else. Sex education is very lacking in my opinion. So I’m going to start at what I think is the beginning with a very basic overview of the sexual response cycle.

But first, here is one scenario I’ve heard.
  • Fred and Wilma show up to the doctor both very depressed and lighthearted. They want to get pregnant, but they can’t. They are wondering what is wrong and why it is taking so long. They explain, “Doctor, we are doing it. Every day! We take off our shirts and rub against each other for sometimes over an hour even. It’s getting so bad and it’s painful! Both of our chests are getting so chafed! We’ve tried putting oil on our stomachs and everything! Why aren't we pregnant yet?!”
…Yes, they were just rubbing chests. OUCH! I’m so glad they sought help, though. Needless to say, their sex life improved drastically!

There are two parts of the Sexual Response Cycle (SRC). The first is Psychological. This is the desire to have sex- commonly referred to as one’s libido. The second part is Physiological or the anatomy behind sex. It is my belief that God knew what he was doing when he created our bodies. Sexual intimacy is to be enjoyed and meant to be a uniting experience physically, emotionally and even spiritually.

Five Phases of the SRC

1. Desire (Psychological)
Throughout cycle
a. Male
• Often more visual

b. Female
• Often more emotional

2. Excitement/Arousal
a. Male
• Increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

• Blood engorges penis

• Erection occurs
• Cowper’s gland secretes fluid

• Lasts 15-56 seconds (re-occurring)

b. Female
• Increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

• Nipple erection in 60% of people

• Blood engorges pelvic area

• Uterus pulls up and away from vagina

• Cervix pulls up from vagina

• Vagina begins to lubricate
• Inner 2/3 of vagina lengthens and descends

• Lasts 15-56 seconds

3. Plateau/Foreplay

a. Male
• Penis color deepens

• Testes fully elevated

• Cowper’s gland secretes fluid

• Seminal fluid collects in urethra (includes sperm from testicles, fluid from prostate gland, and fluid from seminal vesicles)

• Sexual arousal can end here. If ejaculation does not occur, no harm will be done

b. Female
• Uterus continues to elevate

• Vaginal barrel expands

• Vagina lubricates

• Labia increases in size

• Clitoris retracts

• Sexual arousal can end here without harm

4. Orgasm
a. Male
• Internal sphincter of bladder closes and rectal sphincter contracts

• Contractions force semen to ejaculate through urethra

• Internal contractions in vas deferens, seminal vesicles and prostate gland

• Involuntary rapid pelvic thrusting

• Facial muscles may contrac
• Hyperventilation

b. Female
• Contractions in orgasmic platform

• Uterine contractions (similar to labor)

• May have multiple orgasms

• Involuntary rapid pelvic thrusting

• Facial muscles may contract

• Hyperventilation

5. Resolution
a. Male
• Blood leaves pelvic area

• Penis returns to unstimulated size

• Testes descend and scrotum thins

• A mix of hormones are released causing most men (and some women) to become sleepy

b. Female
• Uterus drops back to normal position

• Cervix drops into seminal pool

• Vagina returns to normal

And for the visual learners...


  1. Very, very informative. Thank you so much for the research and explanations. It explains why sex can be uncomfortable for women if their sexual organs aren't yet prepared from being aroused sufficiently. Exciting foreplay can go a long way, and in my opinion, is a very fun part of sex anyway!

  2. Fantastic post. You've gotta stick with the basics and then build on that foundation. And I'll bet a lot people never even had the opportunity to learn even the basics well. Great post.

  3. I totally agree that women have the 'emotional' desire. I remember my first orgasm was when I realized I really loved him. As soon as I would think about love I would orgasm....guys on the other hand....well that's an entirely different story ;-)

  4. great post!! i learned about penetration at 17 when my boyfriend and i had phone sex. i thought it was just making out naked. luckily, he cooperated and the next day said, "sweetie...you know about...like how sex works, right?" i didn't. he gently explained it to me and i was horrified. thank goodness it was just phone sex.

  5. great info thanks. How do you go from an overly repressed bride who doesn't even feel comfortable touching my clit or any part of my vulva during sex. Basically I want to feel sexy from sex and enjoy the pleasure of sex but I feel to inhibited by myself and by past erroneous indoctrination about sex.

  6. Your website is terribly informative and your articles are wonderful.vaginal cosmetic surgery

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