Facts & Info

4 Stages of Sexual Arousal

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The following refers to The Sexual Response Cycle—a scientific way of categorizing the changes our bodies go through as we move from the excitement of that initial flirtation to the joy induced by a blissful afterglow.

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While not all women go through these stages in sequential order, or even at all, knowledge of the cycle will help you be a better lover.

The 4 Stages of Sexual Arousal

1. Desire

At this stage, you will notice an increase in your partner’s breathing rate and muscle tension. Her skin will become flushed and her body will start to prepare for sex—her nipples will grow hard and her vagina will start to get wet.

This is when your words and actions can really make or break things. You can either build on her desire by getting closer and do the things you know turn her on, or you can stop the whole thing in its tracks with some dickhead comment or overly aggressive response. Pay attention to her body language, and adjust your approach accordingly.

2. Arousal

As she gets more and more turned on, your partner will start to breathe heavily and her vaginal walls will swell and turn a darker shade of red. Her clit will also swell and become more sensitive, so go slowly until you know how her body responds. You might find she requires more—or less—clitoral stimulation the more turned on she gets. Take note of changes in her breathing and moans, and change things up if she seems bored.

As she gets closer to orgasm, you will notice a change in her muscle tone. She’ll get stiffer and maybe even start to twitch a bit. If she starts twitching uncontrollably, lighten your touch.

3. Orgasm

Once your partner reaches peak arousal, she will release all of her built up tension in an explosive burst. For some women this is marked by loud moans, but for others it’s a more subtle process involving intense muscle contractions and a full-body flush. Orgasms are usually short-lived, but they can be prolonged with the right touch, or even repeated if you know your partner’s body and her desire for multiple orgasms.

While it is definitely pleasurable, I suggest you keep from putting too much weight on this phase. Sex is way more enjoyable when it’s viewed as an experimental journey and not an express train to orgasm.

4. Resolution

Also known as “afterglow,” this is the stage in which your partner’s body returns to baseline. It’s also the time when lots of warm and fuzzy feelings can emerge, thanks to the release of the bond-inducing hormone, oxytocin. Don’t fear this stage. Even if you’re intent on maintaining an NSA relationship, enjoy the feelings of attachment and well being that the two of you share. It doesn’t have to last forever, and it’s just part of being human.

If one or both of you find it awkward, or too hard to bear, cut this stage short by getting up and leaving soon after. Just be sure to discuss your exit strategy ahead of time.

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