Over the years, issues of human sexuality have been shrouded in secrecy across cultures especially in Sub Saharan Africa. This has contributed enormously to the collapse of many marriages. It is therefore, important to demystify this unfortunate state of affair by putting illumination to the human sexual response cycle.

But, some “doubting thomases” may ask, “what is human sexual response cycle?” Historically, the human sexual response cycle was first proposed by William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson in their 1966 book Human Sexual Response. Since then, other human sexual response models have been formulated.

According to the Center for Health Sex, “sexual response cycle refers to the physical and emotional changes that occur in humans during both masturbation and intercourse”.

As if that ends the story, some psychologists and sex experts opined that the human sexual response cycle is a four-stage model of physiological responses to sexual stimulation, which, in order of their occurrence, are the excitement phase, plateau phase, orgasmic phase, and resolution phase.

In terms of gender comparison, men and women do not experience the stages in the same way.

Phase 1: Excitement

• Initial arousal can last from a few minutes to several hours
• Muscle tension increases
• Heart rate and breath begin to accelerate
• Skin becomes flushed
• Nipples become hardened or erect
• Blood flow to genitals increase
• Vaginal lubrication begins
• The male testicles swell, scrotum tightens, and he starts secreting a lubricating liquid.

Phase 2: Plateau

• Physical changes in excitement phase increase
• Breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure continue to increase
• Muscle spasms may begin in the feet, face, and hands
• Muscle tension increases.

Phase 3: Orgasm

The orgasm is the climax of the sexual response cycle. It is the shortest of the phases and generally lasts only a few seconds. General characteristics of the orgasmic phase include the following:
• Involuntary muscle contractions begin
• Blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing are at their highest rates, with a rapid intake of oxygen
• Muscles in the feet spasm
• There is a sudden, forceful release of sexual tension
• In women, the muscles of the vagina contract. The uterus also undergoes rhythmic contractions.
• In men, rhythmic contractions of the muscles at the base of the penis result in the ejaculation of semen.
• A rash or “sex flush” may appear over the entire body.

Phase 4: Resolution

During resolution, the body slowly returns to its normal level of functioning. Swollen and erect body parts return to their previous size and color. This phase is marked by a general sense of well-being, enhanced intimacy and, often, fatigue. Men need recovery time after orgasm, called a refractory period, during which they cannot reach orgasm again.

The duration of the refractory period varies among men and usually lengthens with advancing age. On the other hand, women have no refractory period; which makes it possible for females to have multiple orgasms.

Factors that affect orgasm.

Critical thoughts toward one’s body: Many women experience intrusive thoughts or critical inner voices about their body that interrupt the smooth progression of sexual excitement that typifies the arousal cycle of approaching orgasm.

Perceiving sex as immoral or bad: Many women have acquired distorted views about sex early in life during the process of socialization.

Guilt about breaking the mother-daughter bond with a mother who is sexually repressed.

Fear of arousing repressed sadness: For many women, feelings of sadness related to emotional pain in childhood surface during a sexual experience, especially when sexuality is combined with emotional intimacy.

Fear of being vulnerable: Combining sex and love leads to a sense of vulnerability and is anxiety provoking because many women and men are afraid of being completely committed to a significant other, especially if they have been previously hurt emotionally.

Fear of arousing repressed memories of abuse and trauma: Being close sexually to a partner and freely experiencing orgasm tend to trigger unwanted memories in women whose histories include sexual abuse or molestation.

Being familiar with the human sexual response cycle and overcoming the barriers that prevent you reaching orgasm will go a long way to improve your intimate relationship with your partner.


David Banaleeh

Popularly known as Kingdave, David Banaaleh is a prolific writer and a budding psychologist.
He pioneered the Network of Budding Psychologists (NetBuPs), a psychological movement of young people who believe in the philosophy of innate goodness of humanity.

David is currently the Founder/CEO of the Generational Advocates for Psycho-Solutions (GAPS), a group of young psychologists who believe in the use of psychological principles in solving some of the social problems in Africa & the world at large.

Call: (+233) 247 113 859
Email: kingdave@oxelle.com

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