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Excitement

This is the initial stage of a woman’s sexual experience. Women will often notice it by the feeling of “wetness” as they begin to feel sexually “turned on”. It is characterised by other manifestations such as an increase in her heart rate and faster breathing. Her skin may appear flushed or have beads of sweat. This would explain why men talk about a woman’s ‘tightness’; it is because the female body has been created to make the vaginal canal narrower thus increasing the grasp, which enhances the male’s own sexual experience.

Plateau

In this phase, a woman will experience an increase in the responses experienced in the excitement phase. Breathing will become more intense, blood flow to the vagina will increase, vaginal walls swell even more. Other indicators of this phase include increase muscle tension and muscle spasms, usually evident in the hands, feet and even the face.

Orgasm

Masters and Johnson’s observation and research show there are actual physiological and biological manifestations in this stage. These include involuntary muscle spasms most easily identifiable in the hands, feet and face. Her uterus and vaginal walls also experience a rhythmic yet involuntary muscle spasms. Her blood pressure and heart rate are at their highest while her breathing is more laboured due to the sharp intake of oxygen. The “explosion” is actually due to an intense release of all that tension that was building during the excitement and plateau phases; during the orgasm phase, the tension is at its peak and the process of reversing it is therefore characterised by a forceful release of that tension.

One point to note; on more than one occasion women have said to me that they have never had an orgasm, when in reality they mean they have never squirted. Women are capable of different kinds of orgasms, and none is considered superior to the other so enjoy your body and orgasms (and that of your partner) as it comes, and resist the temptation to judge it or yourself based on this idea of squirting, which shall be addressed at a different time.

Resolution

This is the phase in which all things return to their normal setting. All engorged parts slowly begin to lose their swelling. Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing all normalise and muscles relax, again often easily identifiable by looking at the hands, feet and face. The woman will likely become relaxed, calm and even seek out emotional and physical affection. What’s interesting about this phase is that for women, unlike for men, they can start the entire sexual response cycle from excitement to resolution without taking a break. This explains why women are able to have multiple orgasms while men are not. In other words, while all men require a period of rest (15 minutes to several hours, depending on the man) to have another full cycle, women do not require this period of rest. Now, multiple orgasms are more easily attainable for some women than for others so this should not necessarily be a goal. However, as a woman, isn’t it great to know that multiple orgasms are biologically possible?

I hope this brief conceptualisation of Masters & Johnson ‘Sexual Response Cycle’ can help you understand what’s happening to you or your partner, as it’s happening. I also hope that it can help you gain an exciting appreciation of just how wonderful a woman’s body is in terms of sexual enjoyment and satisfaction. I wish you a very phaseful week!