Different Stages Of The Sexual Response Cycle For Men And Women

The human sexual response cycle has 4 stages in both males and females.

Sex is something most human beings enjoy, and can be a really fun activity when done with mutual consent. Sex essentially is a human need, and all of us are wired in some way to seek out sexual activity as we hit puberty. It can mean different things to different people: some people enjoy sex solely for the physical pleasure, some people need to form an emotional attachment before they indulge in sexual activity, for some people sex has moral strings attached to it, and for some people it is a way to tap into and explore their fetishes and desires. Whatever it means for anyone, sex isn’t a bad or dirty thing but an activity that can bring happiness and pleasure for anyone that wants to indulge in everything it has to offer. There is a particular sexual response cycle that each person goes through, and while the stages are the same for both men and women, the emotional and physical responses may differ. Moreover, both partners do not have to be on the same stage at the same time, and depends highly on how they respond to each stage. The sexual response cycle is as follows:

1. Excitement

The beginning of the sexual activity


The excitement phase is the beginning of the sexual cycle, and tends to vary from person to person. It is also highly situational, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to even a few hours. In both partners, there is myotonia, or muscle tension as they start the phase together. Moreover, their heart rate and blood pressure increase and breathing also accelerates. The skin becomes more flushed, and sometimes the back and the chest might have blotchiness because of the flushing. Both partners’ nipples become erect, and vasocongestion increases the blood flow towards the genitals. This causes the female clitoris and labia minora to swell up and leads to penile erection in men. In women, there is also an increase in vaginal lubrication and the labia majora also begin to separate. The testes in males also swell up, and the scrotum tightens. In women, the breasts become a little more enlarged.

2. Plateau

An intense period of excitement

Though the word plateau traditionally means “leveling off”, or no real change as such, this is not true when it comes to sexual excitement. Both males and females can experience powerful surges of sexual excitement or pleasure. In the plateau stage, the excitement continues to grow but it is much shorter as compared to the excitement stage, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes. There is technically no clear indication that can tell when a person has shifted from the excitement stage to the plateau stage, but essentially, the characteristics of the excitement stage continues but also becomes much more intensified. There is increased muscle tension as well as spasms in the feet, hands and face along with an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate. The clitoris in females also becomes really sensitive and retracts under the clitoral hood to avoid any direct contact or stimulation. Moreover, the outer third of the vagina becomes very much engorged with blood and may turn a dark purple color, while the male testes withdraw into the scrotum.

3. Orgasm

The shortest and most intense stage of sexual response

This stage is definitely the shortest stage, but it is also the most powerful, lasting only for a few seconds in both males and females. In both partners, there are involuntary muscle contractions, including spasming of the feet, and the heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate reach their peak levels. A flush might appear over the entire body, and there is a sudden release in muscle tension overall. In males, there are repeated contractions that occur at the base of the penis, and this ejaculates the semen from his body. In females, the uterus goes through repeated contractions and the vaginal muscles also contract. Though the stage is quite short, females are able to have much longer orgasms when compared to males. However, the pleasurable feeling that comes from the orgasm is the same in both males and females.

4. Resolution

The body returns to normal.

This stage begins immediately after the orgasm, and it is essentially the body returning to its original, unexcited state. The different body parts return to their normal size and hue, and the rate may differ for the different body parts and the person. There is general fatigue, and depending on the relationship partners share, there is a sense of increased intimacy and well-being afterwards.

5. Refractory Period

Only males go through the refractory period

This is the only significant difference between the male and female sexual cycle, as only males can have a refractory period. This period can be defined as the period when a male cannot become more aroused from any sexual stimulation. The time varies depending on a man’s age and frequency of sexual activity among other factors, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Females however, are capable of reaching orgasm after the resolution period, and can even have multiple orgasms if stimulated after the orgasm stage.