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  YourHealth > Sexual Health  << Previous|Next >>
 

Human Sexual Response Cycles

Masters and Johnson's Model of
The Human Sexual Response Cycle
Masters and Johnson were sex researchers who described sexual response as the result of two principal physiological changes -- increase in blood flow to various parts of the body (vasocongestion) and increase in muscle tension (myotonia). Masters and Johnson chose to use the words "excitement," "plateau," "orgasm," and "resolution" to specify phases of the human sexual response cycle. According to Masters and Johnson, these phases correspond to the level of sexual arousal and describe typical responses.

Masters and Johnson also described other physiological effects of sexual stimulation on both men and women. As we get excited, an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and often a noticeable "sex flush" in the chest, neck, face and ears are associated with increased blood flow and vasocongestion. In addition, there is nipple erection and an increase in muscle tension throughout the body. As excitement moves to plateau there are significant increases in heart rate, blood pressure, sex flush, breast size, respiration rate (heavy breathing), and muscular tension.

Kaplan's Model of Sexual Response
A sex therapist named Helen Singer-Kaplan pointed out that without the desire to be sexually active, we are not going to get excited or have orgasms. The inclusion of desire as part of the human sexual response cycle leads to consideration of psychological and physical factors that many inhibit sexual desire. Factors that might block sexual desire include stress, fatigue, depression, pain, fear, some prescribed medication and recreational drugs, negative past sexual experiences, power and control issues in a relationship, loss of interest in a partner, low self-image, and hormonal influences.

David Reed's Erotic Stimulus Pathway
Another model of sexual response which focuses more on the psychosocial aspects of human sexual response was suggested by therapist, David Reed. Reed's four stages are "seduction," "sensation," "surrender," and "reflection." Seduction includes all those things we might do to either entice ourselves or someone else into sexual activity -- wearing cologne and perfumes, using makeup, dressing sexy, making eye contact, sending love notes, buying flowers, arranging time, sharing feelings, and asking for sex. In the next stage of sensation, we are open to sexual stimulation from all of our senses. Sight, sound, taste, smell, touch, imagination and fantasy all have potential to arouse. This potential is dependent on how we interpret sensations. How we interpret sensations is often influenced by our prior learning about what is sexually stimulating.

Reference Source 95

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