By popular demand (or at least one demand), today’s entry will make a complete circle of Masters and Johnson’s human sexual response cycle. So, what happens after arousal? For women (and sometimes men), arousal does not always result in the obvious: orgasm. Many women have trouble reaching orgasm, while many others reach multiple orgasms. These are variants of the M & J sexual response cycle, but we’ll get to that.
So what happens during a woman’s orgasm? Following the changes that occur during the excitement and plateau phases (arousal), several other physiological changes occur. For instance, when a woman nears orgasm the glans in the clitoris moves inward under the clitoral hood and the labia minora darken. The vagina tightens, then lengthens and dilates while becoming more engorged. The muscles of the uterus then begin to rhythmically contract. Dutch researchers found earlier this year that it is possible to objectively determine orgasms in women by measuring the frequencies of contractions in the uterus, vagina, anus, and pelvic muscles. It is not uncommon, however, for other muscles to contract and spasm. The well-known toes poking out from the sheets is probably the most commonly cited “non-sexual” muscle contraction during orgasm.
Women have a more difficult time reaching orgasm than men and can often go through only the first two stages of sexual response, but still feel they had a satisfactory sexual experience. To make up for the greater difficulty of achieving orgasm, women do have a few checks in their column. Women usually have longer orgasms than men. Men’s are usually only a few seconds long. Women are also able to achieve much hyped “multiple orgasms” (note that, oddly, about 5/6ths of the “multiple orgasms” section of this article is devoted to males). This means that a woman can achieve the third stage of sexual response multiple times without necessarily having to go through the fourth and first stages again–the woman simply reverts to the second stage, then returning to the third stage again.
Following orgasm, the woman enters into the fourth and final stage of the human sexual response cycle: the resolution (sometimes referred to as the refractory period). During this phase, the body returns to its original, pre-arousal state. Some of the changes required to return to normal take place right away, while others take longer. Technically speaking, women do not have a refractory period and men do. The refractory period is the time frame within the resolution after which the sexual response cycle can begin again. The refractory period can be anywhere from a few minutes to a few days depending on the health and age of the man. Women do not have a refractory period because their bodies, generally speaking, are always ready to reenter the sexual response cycle (thus the ability to achieve multiple orgasms).
Another difference between women’s and men’s orgasms is their source, so to speak. While virtually all male orgasms are a result of stimulation of the penis, female orgasms can come from a variety of places. Many orgasms can result from stimulation of the clitoris (homologous to the penis). Other orgasms result from stimulation of the “G spot.” Some women have no trouble achieving orgasm from vaginal stimulation (such as simple intercourse). Orgasms can also originate in other erogenous zones, notably the breasts (especially the nipples) and anus. I have heard women speak of orgasms resulting from stimulation of the neck, toes, and arms. Really, it just depends on what your body responds to.
So, those are the basics of the female orgasm and resolution. I know I did not cover it all. Have a question or a comment? Go for it.