Human Sexuality Midterm 2
Chapter 9 Sexual Response
The Sexual Response Cycle
Three stages: Excitement, Orgasm, and Resolution.
Two basic physiological processes that occur within each stage, vasocongestion
Vasocongestion occurs when a lot of blood flows into the blood vessels of a
specific region resulting in dilation of the blood vessels.
Myotonia occurs when muscles contract throughout the body.
The basic physiological process that occurs during this stage is vasocongestion.
In men, the result of vasocongestion is erection. Erection occurs when the corpora
cavernosa and the corpus spongiosum fill with blood.
o It occurs rapidly, but may take place more slowly as a result of several
factors; age, alcohol intake, and fatigue.
o The several arteries that supply the copora cavernosa and spongiosum
must dilate (vasodilation) and at the same time, veins carrying blood
away from the penis are compressed (restricting outgoing blood flow).
o Vasoconstriction is the reverse process brought on by the
neurotrasmitters epinephrine, and norepinephrine.
o The skin of the scrotum thickens. Scrotal sac tenses, and the scrotum is
pulled up and closer to the body. The spermatic cords shorten, bringing
testes closer to the body.
In women, the process of excitement is physiologically similar initiated by
o Capillaries in walls of the vagina dilate and blood flow through them
o Swelling of breast, erection of nipples.
o Vaginal lubrication results when fluids seep through the semipermeable
membranes of the vaginal walls.
o This response is not as quick as it is in men, but can also be affected by
similar factors such as age, intake of alcohol, and fatigue.
o As arousal continues, and orgasm becomes closer the orgasmic platform
forms. The orgasmic platform is the tightening of the vaginal entrance
caused by contractions of the bulbospongiosus muscle.
o Similar to an (male) erection, the engorgement of the corpora cavernosa
causes the glans of the clitoris to swell.
o Vasocongestion occurs as the relaxation of the smooth muscles
surrounding the arteries that supply the glans and crura of the clitoris and
the vestibular bulbs.
o In the unaroused state, the walls of the vagina lie against each other
(uninflated balloon). During excitement, the upper (inner) part of the
vagina expands, and the cervix and uterus push up (blowing up a balloon). Human Sexuality Midterm 2
Orgasm: an intense sensation that occurs at the peak of sexual arousal and is
followed by release of sexual tensions.
In both males and females experiencing orgasm, there are sharp increases in
pulse, and breathing rates, as well as blood pressure.
In men, orgasm consists of a series of rhythmic contractions of the pelvic organs
at 0.8second intervals.
o Occurs in two stages:
Preliminary/ejaculatory inevitability the vas, seminal vesicles,
and the prostate contract, forcing the ejaculate into a bulb at the
base of the urethra. Sensation that ejaculation is just about to
happen, and that it can’t be stopped.
Second stage the urethral bulb (muscles at the base of the penis),
and the urethra contract rhythmically, forcing the semen through
the urethra and out the opening at the tip of the penis.
In females, the process of orgasm is similar to that in males. It is a series of
muscular contractions of the orgasmic platform.
o The contractions generally occur at 0.8second intervals.
o There is typically no evidence of a female orgasm, and women typically
do not reach orgasm as quickly as men do.
o There is a spreading sensation that begins around the clitoris and then
spreads outward through the whole pelvis.
o Cultural skepticism about female orgasm no consistent proof of its
occurrence. Sometimes women fake it best way to avoid this is
establishing good, honest communication. Avoid setting ‘performance’
goals in sex.
Following orgasm is the resolution phase, during which the body returns
physiologically to the unaroused state.
Orgasm triggers a massive release of muscular tension and of blood from the
enlarged blood vessels resolution is thus a reversal of the processes.
In both males and females, resolution brings a gradual return of pulse rate, blood
pressure, and breathing rate back to normal.
Also, the secretion of Oxytocin occurs during sexual arousal, and the surge of
prolactin occurs at orgasm in both men and women.
o The first change is a reduction in the swelling of breasts.
o 510 seconds after orgasm, the clitoris returns to it’s usual position, but it
takes longer for it to shrink to its normal size.
o The orgasmic platform relaxes.
o Detumescene loss of erection, occurs in two stages.
First rapid, blood emptying from the corpora cavernosa. Leaves
the penis still enlarged. Human Sexuality Midterm 2
Second slower, emptying of the corpus spongiosum and the
Men enter a refractory period, incapable of being aroused again, having an
erection, or having an orgasm.
The refractory period can be as brief as a few minutes, or it be as long as 24
hours. The length of the refractory period typically increases with age.
Criticisms of Masters and Johnson’s Model
Ignoring the cognitive and subjective aspects of sexual response their research
was entirely focused on the physiological aspects of sexual response (ignoring
what the person is thinking and feeling).
o This poses a problem in understanding women’s sexual response because
women tend to emphasize subjective arousal rather than physical arousal.
o Women’s sense of being aroused is often unrelated to awareness of genital
Two components to orgasm for both men and women: a sensory dimension, made
up for the physical sensations, and a cognitiveaffective dimension consisting of
pleasure, satisfaction, emotional intimacy, and feelings of ecstasy.
Another criticism concerns how participants were selected. To participate in the
research, participants were required to have a history of orgasms anyone whose
sexual pattern did not include orgasm was excluded from research. Thus, their
model can’t be generalized to the entire population.
Kaplan’s Triphasic Model
Instead of sexual response being thought of as cycle with successive stages,
Kaplan thought of it as having three independent components: sexual desire,
vasocongestion of the genitals, and muscular contractions during orgasm.
Two of the components are physiological, where as the other is psychological
Kaplan added the cognitive component that Masters and Johnson’s model was
The two physiological components are controlled by different parts of the nervous
system vasocongestion by the parasympathetic division, and ejaculation/orgasm
being controlled by the sympathetic division.
The two components involve different anatomical structures blood vessels, and
Vasocongestion and orgasm difer in the susceptibility to being disturbed by injury,
drugs, or age.
The reflex of ejaculation in the male can be brought under voluntary control but
the erection reflex generally can’t be controlled.
This model is useful both for understanding the nature of sexual response, and for
understanding and treating disturbances in it.
The Intimacy Model
While Kaplan’s model assumes that desire comes before arousal, motivating the
person towards sexual activity/excitement, Basson’s model does not. Human Sexuality Midterm 2
She argues that some people in longterm relationships may not be motivated to
engage in sexual activity by their experience of spontaneous sexual desire.
Rather, their motivation to engage in sexual behaviour is to enhance intimacy,
closeness, and commitment with their partner.
They begin sexual activity in a sexually neutral state, but are receptive to sexual
stimuli that will arouse them. People may begin sexual activity for intimacy