So, you and your partner have a great intimate life. You know what makes each other tick and know how to enjoy yourselves in the process. But, how much do you really know about what’s actually going on “down there” while you’re between the sheets?
Learning about what really makes you tick can help enhance intimacy. True, every woman’s body responds differently to arousal. And that's perfectly normal. Remember that as long as you and your partner are enjoying yourself, you’re doing it right!
Stage One: Things Are Getting Exciting
It’s easy to see why the first stage of arousal is called "excitement," since that's exactly what happens to your body. Your heart speeds up, your blood gets pumping, and your breathing might get heavier. You could find yourself blushing from head to toe – but in anticipation, not embarrassment. You might find things get a little more lubricated at this time, but don’t worry if you don’t. Simply have some personal lubricant handy like K-Y lubricants to help things along.
Stage Two: Cruise Control
The second stage of arousal is classically referred to as the "plateau." Think of this as the “cruise control” stage of your physical intimacy. During this stage, everything gets a little bigger from your breasts to your vagina - this is due to dilated blood vessels, a sign you are turned on. You might also feel more sensitive at this stage. All the better though, as your body is getting ready to see some fireworks.
Stage Three: Fireworks!
Stage three is orgasm: the peak, the summit, the cherry on top. An orgasm is a brief set of involuntary muscle spasms accompanied by a rush of intense sensations. These muscle movements also increase circulation throughout your body so you might feel contractions not only in your pelvic region but in your feet too. That's right, "toe-curling pleasure" isn't just a fancy phrase. Some women get a pronounced red flush across their chest or even over their entire body when they climax. Others also expel fluid out of their vagina, a phenomenon known as female ejaculation.
Stage Four: Basking In the Afterglow
The final stage of the cycle can be considered the cool-down phase. Physically speaking, you might feel like a slowly deflating balloon. Your heart rate and breathing slow down, your blood pressure drops, and you may break out in a sweat. Psychologically, you're basking in the afterglow. You probably feel peaceful and happy, like you're floating in a warm pool, and your muscles are relaxed as if you've received a really great massage. Whew!
- Cleveland Clinic: The Sexual Response Cycle
- National Health Service: Sexual Arousal in Women
- Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: Female Sexual Response
About the Author
Lori A. Selke has been a professional writer and editor for more than 15 years, touching on topics ranging from LGBT issues to sexuality and sexual health, parenting, alternative health, popular music, film and video, food and cooking. Her work has appeared in "Curve Magazine," "Girlfriends," "Libido," "The Children's Advocate," Decider.com, "The SF Weekly," SexIs.com, EthicalFoods.com and GoMag.com. She is also the co-editor of the fifth edition of the landmark sexuality resource guide "The Black Book."