Sexual expression can be pleasurable--no doubt about it.
Nature intended it that way. The urge to reproduce is driven by
pleasure. Makes sense, makes us survive as a species. And it turns out sexual pleasure can enhance your health and well-being. It's natural and good for you.
Sexual pleasure begins with sexual arousal.
Although sexual arousal commonly occurs during physical contact (like when you touch your own body or your partner touches you), you can
also become aroused by seeing, hearing, tasting or even smelling
(Exhibit A: like how you feel when you smell your
romantic partner's cologne or natural
scent...ahhhh). Research has shown that smell is actually one of the
strongest forces in sexual attraction--and you often don't even know
it's influencing you!
Arousal is beyond the physical, it's in your head.
You don't have to have physical contact, to even be awake for sexual arousal to occur. Arousal can occur when you are dreaming (most men know that!). While you are awake, your mind alone can make you
aroused--even when there are no cues from your senses, no touch involved. Just your
thoughts and imagination can make your body aroused.
The body heats up.....
You've heard of the term "hot and bothered"? And "hot and heavy"?
We experience physical changes in our bodies when we become aroused
whether the arousal is emotional like hot anger or sexual like hot
passion. Specifically: the body kicks in with a faster heart rate,
more blood flow to the genitals, and muscle contraction.
....and up and up, climaxes, and then cools down: The sexual response cycle.
Human beings move through four distinct phases in the sexual pleasure cycle:
- Excitement. Initial arousal
- Plateau. Full arousal, on the brink of orgasm
- Orgasm. Climax
- Resolution. Body returns to baseline.
How do we know about the body's sexual responsiveness?
You won't believe it, but researchers actually studied people having
sex in a laboratory so they could study how their bodies respond during
intercourse. Right down to tiny little cameras right where it
mattered! The most famous researchers were William Masters and Virginia
Johnson--a married couple. They showed us that both men and
women experience specific physical changes in their bodies during a
sexual experience corresponding to the phases above.
The phases are universal but how we pass through them isn't.
Don't assume that how you experience sexual arousal and resolution is how your partner experiences it.
Although similarities in the phases exist, everyone is unique and
experiences these phases differently. Men and women tend to experience the sexual response cycle
somewhat differently. You've seen those magazines in the check out line at the
grocery store that feature an article claiming to have the Top Ten Ways to Give your Partner the Best Sex of Their Life...DON'T
BUY IT! The truth is that everyone experiences sexual arousal
differently. You need to know your own and your partner's sexual "selves" and let them become intimate by talking about sex.
In fact, your arousal pattern can differ each time you have sex.
That means that you and your partner may not experience each phase for
the same length of time or with the same intensity.
So if you have been trying to find out "what makes a
woman orgasm" or "what turns men on," there is no one answer. It's
most important for you to learn about how your body works so that when
you choose to have sex you can share clearly and directly what your
likes and needs are. And know how to ask and listen to your partner's
needs and desires.
Communication about sex is Number 1 on any
top ten list on ways to give and get the best sex. Know how to get your glow on.
Sex isn't an outcome, it's a process.
Sex isn't a failure if you don't go through all of the phases of the
sexual response cycle (aka...you don't have an orgasm). Did you know
that 70% of all women don't experience an orgasm with penis-in-vaginal
intercourse alone? Orgasm does not need to be the goal. All the phases of
the sexual response cycle are about pleasure. In fact, focusing on the
outcome and not enjoying the process can make the outcome more
difficult to achieve. Remember, it's not about whether you win or lose,
it's how you play the game--and whether you are enjoying the game.
Sexual pleasure doesn't happen just below the belt.
The best sex from the perspective of your head and your heart is safer sex!
Wait a minute....all this talk about the physical changes that occur
during sex...but do the brain and emotions have anything to do with
sexual pleasure? You bet! Your brain is involved in the whole process
from desire to orgasm!
A recent study found that a woman's orgasm
has more to do with her brain than with her body. Not only does the
brain's circuitry play a part in an orgasm, but the feelings a woman
has for her sexual partner are also wired into the ease and intensity
of her orgasms! It's not all about the body, it's the head and the
Move on! to sexual desire and drives....