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Female

Sexual
Response

Michelle Chronister
metc.wordpress.com
Female Sexual Response
It’s important to remember that there is no “right”
pattern of sexual response.

What works, what feels good, what makes us feel more


alive in ourselves and connected with our partners (if we
have them) is what counts.

Our sexual patterns will change at different points in our


lives. We must trust ourselves and learn from each
other.

The models presented are not a standard to follow, but


are various ways we may experience pleasure and will
broaden our understanding of sexual response.
William and Masters model
of sexual response

During the 1960s, William H. Masters and Virginia E.


Johnson conducted many important studies within the
field of human sexuality. In 1966, the two released a
book, Human Sexual Response, detailing four stages of
physiological changes in humans during sexual
stimulation. These phases, in order of their occurrence,
are excitement, plateau, orgasmic, and resolution.

This model is physiological and focuses mostly on


genitals. Studies were conducted in a lab with
masturbation and penis to vagina intercourse. There are
several limitations of the study, including sample bias,
artificial setting, and experimenter bias.
Stage One - Excitement

This stage can last anywhere from a few minutes to several


hours. Sexual activity during this stage is often called
foreplay. Extending foreplay can sometimes make the
other stages more intense. During this stage:
• the blood flow to the genitals increases
• the clitoris swells
• the vagina begins to lubricate
• blood flow to a woman's breasts increases and her
nipples may get hard
• heart rate and blood pressure increase
• breathing may speed up
Stage Two - Plateau

During this stage:


• due to increased blood flow, the outer third of
the vagina swells and the genitals appear darker
• the clitoris is very sensitive and retracts beneath
its hood
• heart rate, blood pressure and breathing
continue to increase
• muscle tension increases and spasms may
occur in the feet, face and hands
Stage Three - Orgasm
This stage is also called climax. During this stage:
• muscles in the outer third of the vagina contract in a rapid series of
pulses
• the first contractions are the most intense and the closest together
• the muscles in the uterus also contract
• heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are at their highest rate
• the skin may appear red or flushed (this may begin in earlier stages)

Orgasm is the shortest of the four stages, usually measured in


seconds.

Just before or during orgasm, some women release a clear fluid from
their urethra. This is now commonly called female ejaculation. Most
researchers (and women!) believe that this is not urine, but instead
a clear fluid similar to the fluid containing a man's sperm. Ejaculation
is most likely to occur when a woman is being penetrated vaginally
and pressure is being applied to the top wall of the vagina. This is
where the back of the clitoris meets the wall of the vagina and is
sometimes called the G-spot.
Stage Four - Resolution

During this stage:


• a woman's clitoris and nipples get soft
• the vagina and genitals return to their normal
size and color
• breathing, heart rate and blood pressure
decreases
• This process typically takes longer for women
than men, although some women may be able to
return to the plateau stage at this point.
Other Models of
Sexual Repsonse
In the 1970s and 1980s, this model was
expanded by several researchers. They
included emotional aspects of sexual response,
such as desire, arousal, and satisfaction. Some
models recognized that a peak emotional
experience may or may not coincide with the
physiological response during orgasm.

David Reed developed a psychological model


called the Erotic Stimulus Pathway. It goes
seduction, erotic sensations, surrender, and
reflection.
Other Models of
Sexual Repsonse
Gina Ogden used descriptions women
gave her to create a different sort of model
using three overlapping circles.

Pleasure Orgasm

Ecstasy
Orgasms
• Just as there’s no “right” model for sexual response,
there isn’t one for orgasms either. Orgasms can be
mild like a hiccup, a sneeze, a ripple, or a peaceful sigh;
it can be strenuous, as the body glows with warmth; it
can be intense or ecstatic and we lose awareness of our
surroundings.
• Orgasms may feel different with a finger, a penis, dildo,
vibrator. Different when you do it alone or with a partner.
Sometimes feelings of intimacy can enhance partner
orgasms and orgasms can enhance intimacy.
• For women who have abused, sexual arousal may re-
stimulate mental and/or physical memories. It may also
impair a woman’s ability to have orgasms.
Orgasms
Many women have never had
orgasms, but fake them with
partners because they feel the
need to please. Think about how
orgasms for women are portrayed
in the media. There’s
performance pressure for women
to achieve orgasm as the pinnacle
of sexual experience.

Since some women can have


multiple orgasms, other women,
and men, often think they should
be having them too and feel
inadequate when they don’t. One
orgasm can be plenty, and sex
without an orgasm can also be
pleasurable.

Pictures from When Harry Met Sally, MGM, 1989


The Clitoris
First, it’s important to remember that women’s genitals look different.
Below are some examples from Betty Dodson’s Sex for One. Some
women have larger outer lips, larger inner lips, a protruding clitoris,
and the list goes on. Not only is each vulva different, but so is each
clitoris, vagina, and cervix.

Pictures from Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving by Betty Dodson, Three Rivers Press, 1996 - http://www.bettydodson.com/
Visible parts of the clitoris
• Front commisure –
where the outer lips meet
the base of the pubic
mound (marks the upper
boundary of the clitoris)
• Glans – jewel of the
clitoral system, holds
between 6,000 and 8,000
sensory nerve endings,
more than any other
structure in the human
body – male or female –
and four times as many
as the glans of the penis.
It’s only purpose is
pleasure.
• Inner lips – most
prominent feature of the
visible clitoris. (The outer
lips actually come from
the same tissue the
scrotal sac does and,
therefore, is not part of
the clitoral system.)
Picture and descriptions of the clitoris from The Clitoral Truth by Rebecca Chalker,
Seven Stories Press, 2000
Visible parts of the clitoris
• Hood – analagous to
the foreskin of the
penis
• Frenulum – point
where inner lips meet
the glans and packed
with many nerve
endings
• Fourchette – where
the inner lips meet, just
below the vaginal
opening (marks the
lower boundary of the
clitoris)
Hidden parts of the clitoris:
• Shaft – spongy erectile
tissue, very sensitive
• Urethra – surrounded by
a ring of spongy erectile
tissue that is identical to
the tissue that surrounds
the penis (during sexual
response these
structures become filled
with blood, causing
erection)
• Vulvovaginal gland –
produce a small amount
of thick fluid which
contributes to lubrication
Hidden parts of the clitoris:
• Urethral sponge –
embedded in its tissue
are tiny prostate-like
glands and they produce
a fluid similar to the male
prostatic fluid. Normally
difficult to feel, during
sexual response, if you
put a finger in the vagina
and press toward the
pubic mound, you can
feel a rough nugget
about the length of the
first one or two finger
joints. When filled with
fluid, i.e. erect, many
women find stimulation
of it pleasurable.
Hidden parts of the clitoris:
What about the vagina?
The vagina provides an outlet for menstrual fluid, a
receptacle for sperm, and as a birth canal. It does have
sexual functions, but they are passive.

During initial sexual arousal, a colorless fluid is pressed


through the vagina’s mucous membrane walls, creating
a sensation of wetness, and providing lubrication for
insertion. The vagina also provides for direct stimulation
of the urethral sponge. Also, many women find vaginal
penetration pleasurable.
Barriers to Sexual Response

• There are a number of factors that may inhibit a woman's


sexual response. Sometimes this is due to physical
factors, other times a woman's feelings or past
experiences may affect her sexual responses.

• A woman's current or past experiences with sexual


assault or domestic violence can make it more difficult to
enjoy sexual relationships.

• A woman's sexual responses may be inhibited, if she


doesn't trust her partner or if she and her partner can't
communicate effectively.

• Even something as simple as an unresolved quarrel can


inhibit a woman's sexual responses.
Physical barriers
• Low hormone levels
Hormones are chemical messengers that carry instructions
throughout the body. The level of one hormone often affects the
level of another. Both estrogen and testosterone appear to be
important to a woman's interest in sex and capacity to reach
orgasm. Low estrogen levels may decrease how much lubricant a
woman produces when she is aroused, and cause the tissues of the
vagina to become thinner.

Hormone levels may change:


– around the time of menopause
– if a woman has her ovaries removed or has other gynecological surgery
– when a woman takes birth control pills
– Treatment with artificial supplements of these hormones can help to
alleviate these problems. Talk to a doctor about hormone replacement
therapy.
Physical barriers
• Lack of Natural Lubrication
Lubrication makes the genital area slippery so penetration it is easier. If a
woman produces only a little lubricant, it may make sex uncomfortable. For
some women this is always a concern; others may begin to experience this
problem around the time of menopause. Prolonging the time a woman is
excited before genital contact may help. You can buy lubricants that
substitute for a woman's natural lubrication. Remember to use only water-
based lubricants with latex barriers (condoms, dams, etc.).

• Vaginal Muscle Strength


Orgasm is a repeated muscle spasm. These muscles may be stretched
during the delivery of a child, they may weaken with age or they may never
be very strong. Anything that increases muscle strength makes orgasm
easier and more intense. Kegel exercises may be used to strengthen these
muscles.

• Reduced blood flow to the genital area


Many of the signs of sexual arousal, including orgasm, are dependent on
blood flow to the clitoris and genitals. Some medications that reduce blood
pressure may inhibit a woman's ability to orgasm, but this may also occur
without drugs. Research is also being done on the male impotence drug
Viagra to see if it can safely improve blood flow for women.