Male Sexual Response

Male Sexual Response

In their pioneering work Human Sexual Response, Masters and Johnson described the physiological changes a man goes through during sex in terms of a sexual response cycle arbitrarily divided into four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

male sexual response cycle

This part of their work has been widely popularized and accepted, but many men's (and many women's) sexual responses do not fit neatly into the Masters and Johnson scheme, and some people have asked what was wrong with them for not fitting the model.

I think Kinsey was more on target: "There is nothing more characteristic of sexual response than the fact that it is not the same in any two individuals." There is no right or normal way to have a sexual experience.

Your sexual response is the result of a complex interaction among many variables, including, for example, your age, your physical and emotional state, how turned on you are, what your partner does, and how you feel about her. Lots of types of response cycles are possible.

The main physical changes that occur during a sexual experience are the result of vasocongestion, the accumulation of blood in various parts of the body. Muscular tension increases and other changes occur. With orgasm, the muscular tension is released or discharged and blood flow resumes its normal or nonsexual pattern, but these phenomena happen even without orgasm, though more slowly.

A sexual response - sexual arousal - begins when you receive some kind of sexual stimulation: a touch, smell, sight, thought, fantasy, or anything else that has erotic meaning for you. Provided that you are open to a sexual experience, changes commence.

An increased volume of blood is pumped into various parts of your body, increasing their size and often their sensitivity to stimulation. Aside from your penis, your lips, earlobes, and breasts are other areas that may be so affected.

An increased amount of blood is pumped into your penis, and the outflow is reduced. This results in an erection.

Full erection may or may not occur early in an experience. In many young men, erection is almost instantaneous; they get hard as soon as they get any sexual stimulation.

With increasing age, however, it usually takes longer to get hard, and direct stimulation of the penis may be required to reach full erection. There is nothing wrong with either the shorter or longer route.

How you feel directly affects what's happening to you physically. If you get bored, distracted, or anxious, or aren't getting optimal physical stimulation, you may lose some or all of your erection and experience other changes that reflect your lowered level of sexual excitement. Usually this is not something to get concerned about.

You can probably return to a higher level of arousal and regain your erection when you reinstate the conditions and activities that got you there in the first place. If you get very nervous, however, you might lose your erection and ejaculate.

Many men are surprised by this, but it's not uncommon. Anxiety can make a man unable to ejaculate during intercourse or cause loss of erection.

It is normal for erections to wax and wane during lovemaking, especially if it goes on for some time. Many men, for instance, find that although they enjoy giving oral stimulation to their partners, they lose their erections during it. This does not mean these men don't like oral sex.

 It only means that, while pleasurable, what they're doing isn't the kind of stimulation that keeps their erections going.

Erections can go down during other activities as well. The only important thing about the waxing and waning is that you don't get upset if you notice your penis is getting soft. In most cases it can get hard again.

The scrotum and testes undergo some interesting changes during sex.

The skin of the scrotal sac thickens and contracts, while the testes increase in size because of the engorgement of blood. The testes are also pulled up within the sac until they press against the wall of the pelvis. This elevation of the testes anticipates ejaculation and is necessary for it to occur.

Ejaculation is a spinal reflex that releases the built-up muscular tension and reverses the flow of blood in the body, draining it away from the penis and other engorged areas. Two distinct steps are involved in ejaculation.

 First, the prostate, seminal vesicles, and vas deferens contract, pouring their contents into the urethra. The sperm mix with the secretions of the seminal vesicles and the prostate to form the ejaculate. The contractions are the beginning of ejaculation.

To you, it feels like "I'm going to come" or "It's coming." Masters and Johnson called this the point of ejaculatory inevitability - it is the point where you simply cannot stop yourself ejaculating, whether you wish to or not. Since the ejaculatory process is already in motion, ejaculation is inevitable. Nothing can stop it once the point of inevitability has been reached.

Should you find you reach this point uncontrollably, then you may wish to learn some techniques for premature ejaculation treatment.

During the second step of the ejaculatory process, which follows immediately after the first step, the fluid is propelled through the urethra by contractions of the pelvic muscles. The semen may spurt several inches or even feet beyond the tip of the penis, or it may just ooze out.

The force and amount of ejaculate expelled are determined by a number of factors, including your age and the length of time since the last ejaculation.

Ejaculation is a total-body response, not just something that happens in the crotch. Respiration, blood pressure, and heartbeat increase as the man approaches ejaculation, usually peaking at the moment of ejaculation. Involuntary muscle contraction and spasm may occur in various parts of the body, including legs, stomach, arms, and back.

Although many people use ejaculation and orgasm synonymously, I find it is useful to draw a distinction between them. Ejaculation is the physical part, the propulsion of seminal fluid. Orgasm is the peak feeling in sex. This peak feeling usually occurs in men during ejaculation, but not always.

 Sometimes there is no peak feeling, and sometimes that feeling comes long before ejaculation. Some men don't have a lot of feeling when they ejaculate, and some men have lots of peak feelings, with and without ejaculation. There is no good and bad, right and wrong, about any of this.

What would happen if you got very excited, had an erection, but for one reason or another found you were suddenly and unexpectedly unable to ejaculate suffering from ejaculatory problems? Many men believe that this would lead to the condition commonly called "blue balls": discomfort, pain, and soreness in the testes.

This belief is easy to understand. The fantasy model of sex invariably includes orgasm for the male, and the implication seems to be that its absence would be disastrous.

In fact, it is not disastrous. There may be soreness or pain, but this is rare. You might want to think back over your sexual experiences and see if this is true for you.

Be sure to include all instances where, whether with masturbation or with a partner, you got very aroused and did not ejaculate. How many times was there pain? Probably very few, although those are the ones we tend to remember.

It is not necessary to ejaculate every time you have sex. It's nice when it happens, but there's no reason to try to force it. You and your partner will probably feel better stopping while you are still feeling good. Working at producing an ejaculation has a way of making sex tedious.

After ejaculation, your body starts to return to where it was before the sex began. Blood flows out of your penis and it returns to its non-erect state. The rate at which this happens depends on many factors and varies with each occurrence.

Sometimes your erection may go down immediately, while at other times it may stay relatively firm for many minutes after premature ejaculation. Blood pressure, pulse, and breathing rates gradually return to their pre-arousal levels. The scrotum and testes descend to their normal position. A thin film of perspiration may appear over much of your body.

When there has been excitement and no orgasm, resolution usually takes longer. The muscular tension and accumulation of blood are released more slowly than when there has been an ejaculation. Because of this, you may feel a bit congested in the pelvis and perhaps a little tense or jittery. If there is pain, a short period of rest will help, or perhaps you'll want to stimulate yourself, or have your partner stimulate you, to ejaculation.

After ejaculation, many men experience feelings of lassitude and deep relaxation. For some this immediately leads to sleep, often to the chagrin of their partners. Women usually prefer a continued connection-holding, cuddling, relaxed talking, and so on - which some people call afterplay.

Most men I've worked with have found they can become comfortable with these activities if they desire to do so. And sometimes, of course, sleep is just the right thing to do.

It's also worth mentioning that sex can be playful - indeed, perhaps should be playful. It's not just about making babies, and it's not just about reinforcing the pair bond: sex is a way in which our "inner children" can play together.

Isn't sex just about the most fun you can have with another person? It's an opportunity to forget the pressures of adult life and indulge yourself with intimate carefree play with another person. what that means in practice, of course, is that you need to be aware of who you are choosing as a sexual partner, and avoid anyone whom your inner child senses not to have your best interests at heart.

And to increase the fun, and the possibility of fun, you might consider preparing the ground for sexual fun with your mate by choosing the sexual positions you want to enjoy before you get into the bedroom. That's a way of increasing intimacy and fun - and getting relaxed and comfortable with your sexual partner before you even start intercourse.

This seems simple.....but, it's not. Just what does having an erection actually indicate?

Other useful resources: Check out the CAT and enjoy making love even more!

The male reproductive system
The testicles and other male organs
Functions of the testicles
All About Love Between Men and Women
How to manifest reality
All about semen
Female sexual needs and desires
Premature ejaculation
Women think about penis size and sex
Male sexual response
The significance of your erection
How do you see your penis?
Your penis and your life
Circumcision Index
Sex and your penis
Sexual psychotherapy
Sensate focus