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Sexual desire (also known as 'sex drive' or 'libido') is controlled by the brain. of response to sexual stimulation, which is felt in the mind and/or the body. . if your last experience was positive, physically and/or emotionally. reading romance novel. Getty Images. Stimulate Your Brain. When it comes a woman's sexual desire, there may be no organ more powerful. Sexual arousal (also sexual excitement) is typically the arousal of sexual desire during or in Given sufficient sexual stimulation, sexual arousal in humans reaches its climax during an orgasm. It may also be Depending on the situation​, a person can be sexually aroused by a variety of factors, both physical and mental.

Sexual desire (also known as 'sex drive' or 'libido') is controlled by the brain. of response to sexual stimulation, which is felt in the mind and/or the body. . if your last experience was positive, physically and/or emotionally. Women reach orgasm from direct clitoral stimulation, indirect clitoral psychologically healthy, sexuality whereas continued reliance on clitoral. Sexual arousal includes feelings, attractions and desires, as well These can be elicited not only by physical but also mental.

Sexual arousal (also sexual excitement) is typically the arousal of sexual desire during or in Given sufficient sexual stimulation, sexual arousal in humans reaches its climax during an orgasm. It may also be Depending on the situation​, a person can be sexually aroused by a variety of factors, both physical and mental. Researchers have identified four stages of sexual response — that is, the stages Desire usually refers to emotionally wanting to have sex, while before sexual intercourse or masturbation, you take time to arouse yourself. Sexual arousal includes feelings, attractions and desires, as well These can be elicited not only by physical but also mental.






Arousal is the state of being awake and focused on a certain stimulus. For individuals who have stimupate vagina, this involves a number of physiological changes in the body. According to the Cleveland Clinicdesire disorders involve a lack of sexual desire or interest in sex, while arousal disorders involve wanting sex but struggling to get sexually body in the mood. The sexual excitement stage — also known as the arousal stage — involves a range of physiological changes in the body.

Most of these functions prepare the body for vaginal intercourse. For example, your vagina becomes more wet because the glands produce lubricating fluids. Your clitoris and vulva swell up as your blood vessels dilate. Your metnally might become more sensitive to touch, too. The plateau stage is the period before sexually. In this stage, the changes you feel in the excitement phase intensify. Your breathing may quicken, and you may start moaning or vocalizing involuntarily.

Your vagina might tighten and produce more lubrication. Orgasms can include muscular convulsions, especially in the lower back and pelvic area. At this stage, your vagina might tighten and it might become more lubricated.

After orgasm, your muscles relax and your blood pressure drops. Your clitoris might feel particularly sensitive or even painful to touch.

The most important thing is for you to listen to your body and be comfortable. Your physical response to arousal will depend stimulate your genitals, of course. But there are a few similarities in how emntally people experience arousal. No matter what your genitals look like, blood would usually flow to them due to the dilation of the blood vessels. If you have a vagina, that might result in the swelling of the clitoris and labia.

If you have a penis, this blood flow causes an erection. One study involved viewing the brain through an fMRI machine while subjects watched erotic videos. The fMRI machine helped the researchers see how the brain was affected during arousal. It found that, while sexual stimuli activated the amygdalas and thalami more in men, it generally had a similar effect on all subjects. This means that before sexual intercourse or masturbation, you sexually time to arouse yourself by mentally with different erogenous zonesusing different toysor trying different kinds of sensual touch.

For example, you might feel turned on when you touch your nipples, kiss your partner for a long while, or use a sex toy. This is a Viagra-like drug.

The research on this drug is mixed. It can interact with many other medications and supplements. It can even interact with grapefruit juice.

If you want to try out this medication, speak to your doctor. Ask for a referral to mentally sex therapist, too, in order to explore any vulnerable factors that may be impeding you from wanting sexual activity. A sex therapist will help you ztimulate identify mental health or relational factors that may be negatively affecting you and teach you more about your sexual health.

You might have a sexual dysfunction disorder. Many people identify as asexual, which means they feel little or no sexual urges. It used to be known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder HSDD. To diagnose this condition, a doctor might ask you about your symptoms. They might stimuulate try to find an underlying cause. This could include stimulae reasons health conditions or medication, for example or emotional reasons such as a history of sexual abusea mental health condition that affects arousal, sexuzlly body image, or sexually stressors.

Your healthcare provider might do blood tests or perform a pelvic exam to figure out the underlying cause. This is common for people who are experiencing menopause or perimenopause. In this case, your doctor might prescribe hormone therapy. If stimulate cause is emotional, it might be best to see a therapist who specializes in sexual health.

They can help you take care of your sexually health and address any past trauma. According to a article on arousal disordersemotional health has a huge impact on arousal, and therapy such stimulate cognitive behavioral therapy can be a very effective treatment for arousal disorders.

A counselor that specializes in sex stimulate relationships can also help you mentakly out new techniques for communicating, scheduling sex, and finding sexual activities that work for mentally. You can also try flibanserin Addyithe prescription medication mentioned above. Menopause, pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, and breastfeeding all cause huge hormonal shifts that can affect your ability to feel aroused.

In the sexually of pregnancy, miscarriage, birth, and breastfeeding, your sexual desire and ability to become aroused usually return over time. If menopause is causing you to feel little stiumlate no sexual desire, your doctor might prescribe estrogen therapy. Since your thyroid gland can affect your sex hormones, thyroid disorders can affect your ability to become aroused. Stiulate found that female sexual dysfunction was more prevalent in women with thyroid conditions A study conducted in looked at the link between sexual dysfunction mentally depression.

It found that hypothyroidism and thyroid autoimmunity could cause both depression and sexual dysfunction. Managing your thyroid disease by taking your prescribed medication and implementing lifestyle changes can help improve your sexual function. Mood disorders like depression can cause low libido as well as sexual arousal and desire disorders. According to a article published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatryabout 40 percent of women who have a sexual dysfunction also experience depression.

The researchers also estimated that 3. Many mental health conditions can arise because of trauma, which can also cause sexual dysfunction. A sexually of studies found that women with mentally were more likely to experience sexual dysfunction than those without diabetes.

However, the review noted that the link between the two is still poorly understood. Stimulate female orgasm is rarely like what we've seen on TV. Between the screams and the fireworks, an orgasm can be very different for women and people….

These women are telling me they don't enjoy casual, straight sex on a basic level. This is an stimulate term for any type mentally orgasm related to female sexually. It could be clitoral, vaginal, even cervical — or a mix of all…. Female masturbation is a safe and natural way to mentally good, discover what gets you hot, and release sexuaply sexual tension.

Plus, it's fun! Female ejaculation occurs when fluid - not necessarily urine - is expelled from your urethra during sexual arousal or orgasm. This is different from…. Shape, stimulation, strength, safety, and… to splurge or not to splurge? Here's a comprehensive guide to buying the vibrator of your pleasure dreams. When you're aroused, your vagina may naturally lubricate. Your body may produce less lubricant as a result of hormonal changes, aging, or medication…. If you feel as if you're constantly aroused, that may not be a bad thing.

A healthy sex drive can be a positive quality. Stimulate if you think your desire…. That said, we…. Are dilated pupils really a sign of attraction? Overview Arousal vs. What is arousal? Is there mentally difference between arousal and desire? Where does arousal fit into the stages of sexual response? How does your body respond to arousal? How does your mind respond to arousal?

Is there a difference between female and male arousal? Is there anything you can stimulate to increase arousal? Do any other conditions stimulahe arousal? Should I see a doctor?

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Moses Blvd. All rights reserved. This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Keywords: sexual desire disorders, sexuality, sexual dysfunction, sexual disorders, sexual response cycle, desire disorder, sexual arousal disorder, hypoactive sexual disorder. Sexuality defined Sexuality is a complex interplay of multiple facets, including anatomical, physiological, psychological, developmental, cultural, and relational factors. Sexuality in adults consists of seven components: Gender identity Orientation Intention Desire Arousal Orgasm Emotional satisfaction Gender identity, orientation, and intention form sexual identity, whereas desire, arousal, and orgasm are components of sexual function.

Sexual response cycle The sexual response cycle consists of four phases: desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution. Criteria As previously stated, there are two sexual desire disorders. Prevalence The prevalence of desire disorders is often underappreciated. Common psychotropic classes causing sexual dysfunction. New York, NY: W. Open in a separate window. Treatment Psychotherapy Although there are many proposed treatments for desire disorders, there are virtually no controlled studies evaluating them.

Pharmacotherapy Multiple hormones have been studied for treatment of sexual desire disorders. Conclusion Sexual desire disorders are under-recognized, under-treated disorders leading to a great deal of morbidity in relationships. References 1. New York: Brunner-Routledg; Levine SB, editor. Sexual disorders. Psychiatry, Second Edition. Hoboken, NJ: Wley; Levine SB. Reexploring the concept of sexual desire. Human Sexual Response. Bechtel S The practical encyclopedia of sex and health: From aphrodisiacs and hormones to potency, stress, vasectomy, and yeast infection.

Emmaus PA : Rodale; American Psychiatric Association. Sexual dysfunction in the United States: prevalence and predictors. Kaplan HS. New York: Brunner: Mazel; Sexual aversion, sexual phobias, and panic disorder. A placebo-controlled comparison of the effects on sexual functioning of bupropion sustained release and fluoxetine.

Hindermarch I. The behavioral toxicity of antidepressants: effects on cognition and sexual function. Int Clin Psychopharmacol 13 Suppl. Sexual symptoms in endocrine diseases: psychosomatic perspectives. New York: Guilford Press; Meuleman E, Van Lankveld J. Hypoactive sexual desire disorder: an underestimated condition in men. Douglas N, Sleep apnea. New York: McGraw Hill; Testosterone therapy in women: its role in the management of hypoactive sexual desire disorder.

Transdermal testosterone treatment in women with impaired sexual function after oophorectomy. Basson R. Stahl SM. New York: Cambridge University Press; The effect of a cognitive-behavioral group treatment program on hypoactive sexual desire in women.

Sex Relat Ther 16 — [ Google Scholar ]. Ellis A, Harper R. A New Guide to Rational Living. New York: W. Crenshaw TL. The sexual aversion syndrome. Ponticas Y. Sexual aversion versus hypoactive sexual desire: a diagnostic challenge. Pharmacologic modification of psychosexual dysfunction.

Morales A, Heaton JP. Hormonal erectile dysfunction. Evaluation and management. The role of hormones in human behavior. Changes in female sexuality after adrenalectomy. Androgen replacement for women.

Guay AT, Jacobson J. Decreased free testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate DHEA-S levels in women with decreased libido.

Dehydroepiandrosterone replacement in women with adrenal insufficiency. However, both samples suggest that CUMD provides substantial information for predicting whether or not a woman will experience orgasm in intercourse. We calculated an ROC curve on data from the Bonaparte sample for the relationship between CUMD and the likelihood of reaching orgasm from masturbation. The ROC curve accounted for 0. Data for autosexual orgasms are provided for comparison. Using a 2.

The 2. These results support that knowing a woman's CUMD does not provide information allowing accurate prediction of whether or not she experiences autosexual orgasms, but can provide substantial information for predicting the occurrence of orgasms in intercourse.

Percentage of women experiencing orgasm in relation to whether their CUMD measurement is greater than or equal to 2. Lastly we asked whether CUMD could be used to accurately classify individuals into those who have orgasm in intercourse and those who do not. When the discriminant function was generated using data from the Bonaparte sample a significant Eigenvalue of 1. Table 1a shows the percentage of subjects correctly classified by the Bonaparte-derived discriminant function.

When the discriminant function was generated using data from the Landis sample a smaller, but still significant Eigenvalue of 0. These data show that CUMD can be used to accurately classify women according to the likelihood that they will have orgasms in intercourse. However, CUMD's power as a diagnostic tool is limited in these data. Both discriminant functions very accurately classified women in the Bonaparte sample who reported experiencing orgasm in intercourse, but did poorly in making the same classification in the Landis data.

However, even in this case only the Bonaparte-derived discriminant function classified these women better than chance. Data from two independent samples, collected over 70 years ago and more than 15 years apart, support the notion that the distance between a woman's clitoris and her vagina influences the likelihood that she will regularly experience orgasm solely from intercourse. Women who reported more regularly experiencing orgasm had shorter CUMD measurements than did women who reported not experiencing or less regularly experiencing, orgasm in intercourse.

When orgasms from masturbation were considered there was no meaningful relationship between CUMD and whether or not a woman experienced autosexual orgasms. Thus the influence of CUMD on women's orgasms is likely limited to orgasms solely from sexual intercourse. These results suggest that some of the variability in women experiencing orgasm from intercourse without concurrent clitoral stimulation reflects, as Bonaparte suggested in , the consequences of embryological processes that determine the position of the clitoris relative to the vagina.

Thus, some women may be anatomically predisposed to experience orgasm from intercourse, while the genital anatomy of other women makes such orgasms unlikely. While other factors, such as the sexual characteristics of a woman's partner, undoubtedly influence the likelihood of experiencing orgasm solely from intercourse, these data suggest that for some women their genital anatomy strongly influences the occurrence of orgasm in intercourse.

ROC and discriminant analysis revealed that CUMD can serve as a reliable and sensitive predictor of the likelihood that a woman will experience orgasm in intercourse. The two studies differed in the strength of this prediction with the Bonaparte sample providing better prediction and classification than does the Landis sample. This difference between the two studies may reflect how the genital measurements were obtained.

If as we suspect, Bonaparte used the frenulum of the clitoris as her clitoral marker while Landis and colleagues used the tip of the clitoral glans, one would expect much more variation in CUMD between subjects using the Landis method because the clitoral glans is larger and more variable than is the frenulum Verkauf, et al.

The frenulum is essentially a single point at the base of the clitoral glans, and thus would vary much less between subjects than would the clitoral glans. Thus the stronger relationship between CUMD and orgasm in intercourse in the Bonaparte study may simply reflect that she measured the same genital construct in all subjects, whereas the Landis technique may have had much greater inherent variance which reduced or obscured the magnitude of the relationship between CUMD and orgasm.

While the conclusion that a woman's genital configuration influences her likelihood of experiencing orgasm in intercourse has implications for women's sexual experience, caution in accepting this interpretation is warranted given possible bias in data collection. Although Bonaparte's data show a much stronger relationship between CUMD and orgasm than do the Landis data, Bonaparte apparently collected all of the data herself and she was certainly not blind to her hypothesis.

In addition, Bonaparte was personally invested in finding that orgasm in intercourse was affected by clitoral location as she was looking for an explanation for her own inability to experience orgasm in intercourse.

By contrast, although Landis and his colleagues were aware of Bonaparte's hypothesis, they were also aware of Dickinson's refutation of that hypothesis, citing both works in their book.

It is thus unlikely that the Landis team had a particular bias in this aspect of their study. In addition, the Landis data were less easily biased since CUMD measures were collected by a doctor separate from the investigators collecting the interview data. In addition, the genital examination data and the interview data were recorded in separate documents and collected at different times.

It is thus possible that the Landis data are more objective and less biased than the Bonaparte data, and that is why they also show a weaker relationship between CUMD and orgasm in intercourse. They do, however, show a statistically significant and relatively large relationship in the same direction as that found by Bonaparte. Thus we think it likely that the differences between the two studies in the strength of the relationship between CUMD and orgasm likely reflect genital measurement differences instead of biased data collection.

Landis and colleagues replication of Bonaparte's finding 16 years later using a completely different research team in a completely different environment makes us more confident of the validity of the relationship between CUMD and orgasm despite the challenges these data present.

Unresolved, however, is the different distribution of CUMD measurements in the two studies. Bonaparte's women have CUMD measurements that average about 0. There is evidence that the Bonaparte and Landis CUMD measurements were likely collected using different methods and that the one that Landis likely used would produce both increased variability and a mean length difference of about 0.

However, given the limited information we have it is not possible to fully explain the differences between the two studies in the distributions of the CUMD measurements. Still, the consistent positive relationship between CUMD and orgasm in intercourse in both studies warrants further discussion, particularly what it implies about genital development how developmental differences might contribute to our understanding of variation in the ways in which women reach orgasm.

Similarly, these results do not resolve whether orgasm in intercourse for women with short CUMDs results from vaginal stimulation, from direct penile stimulation of the clitoral glans, from indirect clitoral stimulation though pelvic pressure, from stimulation of internal aspects of the clitoral complex, or from some combination of all of these.

Any of these sources of stimulation could possibly produce the higher incidence of orgasm in intercourse found in women with shorter CUMD measurements. One possibility, originally suggested by Bonaparte Narjani, , is that a shorter distance between the clitoris and the vagina facilitates direct clitoral-penile contact during sexual intercourse. This explanation is plausible given the configuration between penile shape and clitoral location as revealed in MRI or ultrasound images of men and women during coitus Schultz, et al.

However, without evidence of increased direct penile-clitoral contact during intercourse in women with shorter CUMD measurements it is not possible to conclude whether this is the mechanism through which CUMD affects orgasm in intercourse. Although the notion of pelvic or penile stimulation of the clitoral glans or shaft is intuitively appealing and is consistent with the data presented here, short CUMD, instead of being the actual mechanism increasing orgasm in intercourse, could be an external marker of other processes producing increased vaginal sensitivity that increases the likelihood of orgasm solely from sexual intercourse.

The clitoris consists of more than the shaft and clitoral glans. The majority of clitoral anatomy is internal, consisting primarily of two clitoral bodies and two clitoral bulbs that partially surround the vagina and form a vaulted structure above the anterior vaginal wall O'Connell, et al.

Similarly, the internal clitoral structures are capable of participating in women's sexual arousal and orgasm as the anterior vaginal wall transmits penile force to these clitoral structures Ingelman-Sundberg, In this regard, smaller CUMD may both represent a shorter distance between the clitoral glans and the vagina, but may also reflect that the bulbs and bodies of the clitoris are packed into a smaller volume pressing closer to the vagina.

This compact spatial arrangement could result, for example, in more direct contact between the anterior vaginal wall and the erotically sensitive bulbs or bodies of the clitoris.

This more direct contact between the vagina and portions of the clitoris distal to the shaft and glans produces increased vaginal sensitivity that is unlikely or impossible if these clitoral structures are distributed through out a larger volume. Thus shorter CUMD would not directly affect external clitoral stimulation, but would be a proxy for increased vaginal sensitivity and an increased likelihood that vaginal stimulation can produce orgasm even if there is no increased penile stimulation of the clitoral glans or shaft during sexual intercourse.

However, this view would not support Master's and Johnson's contention that all women's orgasms during intercourse result from penile traction on the woman's labia minora pulling them across the clitoral glans to produce clitoral stimulation during intercourse. Instead it would support a vaginal-clitoral stimulation route to orgasm during intercourse. Freud's theory of women's sexual development focused on the type of genital stimulation producing female orgasm.

Freud contrasted orgasms from vaginal responsiveness with clitorally-induced orgasms, by which he meant orgasms resulting from stimulation of the external aspects of the clitoris. Ironically, Freud's distinction between vaginally- and clitorally-triggered orgasms may actually reflect a natural typology of women's orgasm induction.

This typology has nothing to do with psychological maturity as Freud argued, but instead contrasts women who reach orgasm through vaginal stimulation of deep clitoral structures with women who reach orgasm through stimulation of external clitoral structures of the shaft or glans.

However, Freud, by valuing vaginal induction of orgasm over external clitoral induction has likely negatively affected many women and impeded investigation of the sources of this natural variation in women's sexual arousal and orgasm.

The results of the studies analyzed here suggest that these two different forms of orgasm induction might reflect which anatomical aspects of the clitoris have primary erotic sensitivity. Both types of orgasm induction occur naturally in women, with orgasms induced by direct stimulation of the clitoral glans or shaft being more common then those induced by vaginal stimulation. Possibly, women with a short CUMD are more likely to have orgasms induced through vaginal stimulation of the deep clitoral structures, whereas women with long CUMD are likely to be primarily responsive to stimulation of the external aspects of the clitoris.

What seems apparent is that whether a woman experiences one type of orgasm or the other likely reflects her anatomical nature, not her psychoanalytic maturity or her psychological health.

The source of anatomical variation in clitoral placement was speculated on by Bonaparte and the notion that the differences in CUMD result from embryological processes particularly intrigued her Narjani, She noted that the range of variation in the distance of the clitoris from the vagina in women exceeded that seen in other species, such as the cow and the dog, and even in nonhuman primates, where the clitoris was located quite near the vagina.

Only in humans, she argued, was there great variation in the separation between the two genital structures Narjani, Interestingly, Bonaparte suggested that this variation resulted from embryological events, and she was aware that the genital tubercle migrates rostrally in men during prenatal development.

She noted that the genitals of girls are similar to those of boyd around the 9 th or 10 th week of gestation before the genital tubercle has migrated very far rostrally leaving it in a more caudal location Narjani, It is unclear how Bonaparte developed this very modern theory of prenatal genital development, but today we would find her conclusions consistent with the notion that women with longer CUMD measures have been exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens than have women with smaller distances.

Bonaparte suggested that variation in CUMD likely reflects the timing of the cessation of rostral migration of the woman's genital tubercle during prenatal life. This migration is necessary in males to produce the much more rostral location of the penis necessary for successful sexual intercourse. Genital tubercle migration occurs in mammalian males and studies in animals show that prenatal androgens control this migration.

Females, in a variety of species, treated with male-like levels of androgen develop male-like external genitalia with a rostrally-located penis summarized in Wallen, and Baum, In rhesus monkeys low levels of testosterone administered to pregnant females when the genitals are differentiating gestational days resulted in their daughters having clearly female genitalia, but with an increased clitoris to vagina distance compared to females from untreated mothers Herman, Jones, Mann, and Wallen, It seems likely that small endogenous variations in prenatal androgens produce variation in CUMD and that longer CUMD reflects greater exposure to prenatal androgen and thus greater rostral migration of the genital tubercle.

While there is no direct evidence for the relationship between CUMD and natural variation in prenatal androgens in women there is such evidence in rats. Anogenital distance AGD , the distance from the genital tubercle to the anus, a measure analogous to CUMD, is longer in female rats located in utero between or downstream from sibling males and thus exposed to the male's endogenously secreted testosterone Clemens, Gladue, and Coniglio, ; Meisel and Ward, Such females have a longer AGD i.

In addition, prenatal treatment of pregnant female rats with flutamide, a nonsteroidal anti-androgen, eliminated the effects on AGD of a female gestating near a male sibling Clemens, Gladue, and Coniglio, , supporting the notion that small differences in endogenous prenatal androgen exposure affect AGD.

Interestingly, natural variation in female rat AGD predicts better adult reproductive function and earlier e. Thus data from rats support the notion that AGD serves as a proxy for the degree of prenatal exposure to androgens. If CUMD is similarly affected by endogenous prenatal androgen variation, it may be an external indicator of a woman's exposure to prenatal androgens. If true, this suggests that women exposed to lower levels of prenatal androgens are more likely to achieve orgasm solely through intercourse than are women exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens.

Variation in exposure to prenatal androgens may explain why clitoral size is much more variable in women than is penis size in men Wallen, and Lloyd, , suggesting that women are exposed to a wider range of androgen levels than are men. Particularly intriguing is the notion that orgasm solely from sexual intercourse seems most likely to occur in women who may have been exposed to the lowest levels of prenatal androgens.

Exposure to higher levels of androgens does not preclude orgasm, but may result in easier orgasm from direct stimulation of the clitoral shaft or glans, than from stimulation of the vagina or internal clitoral structures in close proximity to the vaginal walls. Thus the clitoral and vaginal eroticism that Freud invested with substantial psychoanalytic importance, may exist, but simply reflect the extent to which a woman was prenatally exposed to androgens.

Possibly variation in prenatal androgens produces other genital changes, in addition to rostral migration of the genital tubercle, that influence the type of stimulation a women requires for reaching orgasm. In males the genital tubercle differentiates into the penis under the influence of prenatal androgens. In this process the primary erogenous areas of the penis become the underside of the glans penis, where the frenulum connects the foreskin to the glans penis and, to a much lesser extent, the penile shaft.

Thus, although the penis enlarges substantially under the influence of androgens the parts which contribute to sexual sensations remain, or become, quite small. In females the genital tubercle, without the strong influence of androgens, migrates much less than in males and differentiates into the clitoris possibly with a more diffuse distribution of erotic sensitivity such that the clitoral bulbs and bodies as well as the shaft and glans are erotically responsive. Women who are exposed to higher levels of prenatal androgens may not only have a more male-like rostral clitoral location, but also their clitoral eroticism may become more similar to that of the penis.

Thus, increased prenatal androgen exposure may focus erotic sensitivity to the clitoral shaft and glans reducing or eliminating erotic sensitivity in the bulbs and bodies of the clitoris. In this view, all women possess erotic sensitivity in the clitoral shaft and glans, but only women exposed to lower levels of prenatal androgens retain significant erotic sensitivity in the internal clitoral structures. CUMD size, which likely reflects the extent of prenatal androgen exposure, might also be a proxy for the erotic sensitivity of internal clitoral structures, and thus the likelihood that women will experience orgasm solely from intercourse.

These findings support CUMD as a potential proxy for prenatal androgen exposure in women and suggest a number of studies. The first is that CUMD should be positively correlated with clitoral size, since in males the rostral migration of the genital tubercle is combined with an increase in genital tubercle size. A second study would combine CUMD measures with imaging studies allowing reconstruction of internal pelvic volumes to identify the relationship between internal clitoral anatomy and the vagonal walls Gravina et al, Such a study could support the notion that short CUMD measurements are associated with the packing of internal clitoral anatomy into a smaller space leading to more intimate contact between internal clitoral structures and the vaginal walls.

Hypotheses offered here could be directly tested by investigating women with atypical prenatal androgen exposure. For example, women with complete androgen insensitivity CAIS resulting from not having functional androgen receptors, would be expected to have very short CUMD, with their internal clitoral structures packed into a much smaller volume than would women with typical androgen exposure. Women with CAIS would also be expected to more reliably experience orgasm in intercourse than women exposed to androgens.

We do not know how this might affect the relationship between the vaginal walls and the internal aspects of the clitoris. Women with congenital adrenal hyperplasia CAH could contribute significantly to our understanding of genital anatomical development and orgasm. Studies of same and mixed sex twins could directly test the hypothesis that small differences in prenatal androgen exposure affect CUMD, with women with female co-twins having smaller CUMD measurements than would women with male co-twins.

Lastly, the findings of Bonaparte and Landis need to be replicated using an assessment of orgasm that clearly distinguishes orgasms during intercourse without concurrent clitoral stimulation from those with concurrent clitoral stimulation.

A standardized method of measuring CUMD needs to be developed, possibly one which measures actual clitoral-vaginal distances, though the size and flexibility of the vaginal opening make this challenging.

Such studies might explain the great variation among women in the sexually arousing stimulation necessary for orgasm and why some women more easily experience orgasm in intercourse than do others. Ultimately such studies could establish the factors that cause the natural variation in women's orgasms and possibly why men and women differ so markedly in the likelihood that they will experience orgasm solely from sexual intercourse.

Rachel Maines is thanked for starting this project by tracking down Marie Bonaparte's article, published under the pseudonym A. Liana Zhou and Shawn C. Wilson of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction library are thanked for discovering the original Landis data sheets.

Cecile J. Click is thanked for transcribing the Landis raw data from the original records. Daniella Sanchez is thanked for blind coding of the Landis data. Nancy Bliwise is thanked for introducing Receiver Operating Characteristic curves as an analytical tool. Harold Gouzoules is thanked for advice on the use of discriminant analysis.

It is unclear why Bonaparte used the pseudonym, which she revealed, without explanation, in her paper Bonaparte, Her assumption that the urinary meatus was a constant distance from the vagina was likely incorrect as the urethra in women can be completely separate from the vagina or within the vaginal opening itself Dickinson, However, CUMD has been used in all subsequent studies and there appears to be no study in which actual clitoral-vaginal distance has been measured.

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Lloyd , Ph. Author information Copyright and License information Disclaimer. Corresponding Author: Kim Wallen, ude. Copyright notice. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at Horm Behav. See other articles in PMC that cite the published article. Abstract In men and women sexual arousal culminates in orgasm, with female orgasm solely from sexual intercourse often regarded as a unique feature of human sexuality.

Keywords: orgasm in intercourse, genital anatomy, sex differences, clitoral position, prenatal androgens. The source of individual variability on the sexual excitation and inhibition systems is not known definitively. Even less is known about how these systems develop in individuals. Age of first masturbation has been used as a measure to assess sexual development.

Age of masturbatory onset is much more variable in girls than boys, whose tend to be close to puberty. One twin-study has found evidence for the heritability of both factors of SIS, but research suggests that SES variability is down to environmental factors. The majority of studies investigating sexual functioning use heterosexual participants exclusively, unfortunately limiting the generalizability of the dual control model.

One way to study sexual arousal in women and men is to conduct sexual psychophysiological research in a laboratory setting. This field of research looks at physical sexual responses in addition to mental and emotional experiences of sexual arousal.

Various hypotheses and theories have been propounded in order to establish the biological bases for sexual arousal in humans. Ivan Tarkhanov showed, in experiments on cutting and artificial emptying of the seminal vesicles , that the latter played the crucial role in the generation of sexual excitement in frogs. Proceeding from these experimental results, Tarkhanov put forward a hypothesis that filling and evacuation of the seminal vesicles were the main biological cause which led to sexual arousal and its disappearance in mammals and humans.

No generalisation has yet appeared, however. Unambiguous experimental evidence for the existence of the Tarkhanov regularity in human sexual behaviour has never been obtained.

If the level of this tension reaches threshold, sexual arousal occurs as the expression of necessity to let off steam. Gary F. Kelly Clarkson University describes this model as follows:.

For centuries, the assumption was made that the longing for sexual interaction was innate, and an inner drive model was used to explain it. It has been suggested that this model was much like a metaphor for a steam boiler. This view also assumed that there was some adverse physical consequence of not releasing the pressure.

The "psychohydraulic model of sexuality" has been formulated most definitely in psychoanalysis :. The instinct causes tensions within the central nervous system which spread out over the whole being; it is urgent and irresistible in nature and constantly repeats itself.

An erection, for example, is pleasurable and painful at the same time. With an increase of sexual excitation, the tension increases and becomes wholly unpleasurable. This condition becomes so unbearable that the individual is forced to seek release from these tensions and liberation from the painful feelings. The pain of tension which accompanies the increase in the intensity of the instinctual drives changes, with the discharge, into the pleasure of relaxation.

After a certain time, the same process begins anew. Such an approach assumes sexual arousal to be a spontaneous desire that appears periodically like sensations of hunger and thirst. Drawing a parallel between these sensations and sexual excitation is widely accepted now: "Everyone must experience sexuality in some way to survive. In this sense sex is a necessity of life, just as air, food, and warmth.

Sensations of hunger and thirst occur due to certain states of physiological insufficiency. The feeling of hunger results from the lack of glucose, fats and amino acids in blood. The feeling of thirst occurs in response to reduction of the water content of tissues. None of similar states of physiological deficiency responsible for the periodical appearance of sexual arousal has been revealed in human sexuality. The most obvious response involved with sexual behaviour in males is penile erection.

The use of the volume or circumference change during penile erection as a convenient measure of sexual arousal was first developed by Kurt Freund. This is commonly measured using a strain gauge, a simple mercury strain gauge encompassed in a ring of rubber.

The ring surrounds the penis , but does not constrict or cause discomfort. Studies have found temperature change specific to the genitals during sexual arousal, which supports the validity of this measure. Sexual arousal in women is characterized by vasocongestion of the genital tissues, including internal and external areas e. There are a variety of methods used to assess genital sexual arousal in women. Vaginal photoplethysmography VPG can measure changes in vaginal blood volume or phasic changes in vasocongestion associated with each heartbeat.

Clitoral photoplethysmography functions in a similar way to VPG, but measures changes in clitoral blood volume, rather than vaginal vasocongestion. Thermography provides a direct measure of genital sexual arousal by measuring changes in temperature associated with increased blood flow to the external genital tissues.

Similarly, labial thermistor clips measure changes in temperature associated with genital engorgement; this method directly measures changes in temperature of the labia. More recently, laser doppler imaging LDI has been used as a direct measure of genital sexual arousal in women.

LDI functions by measuring superficial changes in blood flow in the vulvar tissues. Category-specificity refers to a person showing sexual arousal to the categories of people they prefer to have sex with. Sexual arousal studies involving category-specificity look at genital responses physiological changes , as well as subjective responses what people report their arousal levels to be.

Category-specific sexual arousal is more commonly found amongst men than women. This pattern is reversed for homosexual men. Studies have found that women have a non-category-specific genital response pattern of sexual arousal, meaning their genital responses are only modestly related to their preferred category. This hypothesis suggests that, provided there is enough of an increase in vaginal blood flow for vaginal lubrication to occur in a sexual context, the magnitude of arousal need not be consistent.

That is, the hypothesis is that vaginal lubrication can take place as a protective mechanism even in a non-preferred sexual situation, such as when sexual activity is non-consensual. Other researchers argue that since the research is done on people who volunteer to be studied, the observed levels of category specificity may not represent the population, that there may be different cultural expectations of sexual interests being linked to genital arousal that make men with non-category specific genital arousal less likely to appear as test subjects.

There researchers also argue that the assumption that men are always sexually interested in what causes genital arousal removes its own falsifiability by explaining all contradictory data away as "denial", making the theory untestable.

While there is disagreement among neurologists on whether or not it is possible to categorically distinguish male brains and female brains by measuring many variables in the brain, neurologists agree that all single variables in the brain display more individual variation and overlap between the sexes than differences between the sexes. For instance, men and women alike are capable of classifying sex acts as sexual no matter if they find them appealing or not, making a genital response to unappealing erotic stimuli a single mechanism step.

It is therefore argued by neurologists that category specificity of genital response to erotical imagery, being determined by one or a small number of closely linked brain mechanisms and therefore not subject to significant multivariate effects, cannot be subject to such a large sex difference as that apparent in pletysmographic studies.

These neurologists cite the existence of significant volunteering bias among men but not women in erotica research, in particular that the overrepresentation of erectile dysfunction yet underrepresentation of sexuality-related shame in volunteers is consistent with the hypothesis that genital response to both sexual relevance and appeal allows for a stronger erectile function than response only to appeal and that a majority of the male population are ashamed of their responses to unappealing stimuli, accounting for the discrepancy between the report from most heterosexual couples that male erection is faster than female lubrication and the appearance on pletysmography volunteers that female lubrication is at least as fast as male erection.

They also argue that the appearance of a greater individual variability in female genital response than in male genital response is consistent with a representative female sample and a male sample subject to bias that leaves much of the individual variability unstudied, with a reference to the neurological observation that all brain structures display significant individual variability in both sexes and that no brain structure is variable only in females and not in males.

Sexual arousal results in a combination of physiological and psychological factors, like genital sexual response and subjective experience of sexual arousal. The degree to which genital and subjective sexual response correspond is termed concordance. Research has shown a reliable gender difference in concordance of sexual arousal, such that men have a higher level of concordance between genital and subjective sexual responding than women do.

There may be a difference in women's ability to perceive internal versus external genital engorgement subjectively, as measured by vaginal photoplethysmography VPG and thermography respectively.

Chivers and colleagues [61] found that men's and women's concordance was more similar when thermography was used as a measure of genital sexual arousal than when VPG was used.

However, few studies using thermography have been conducted and further research is required to determine whether the gender difference in concordance is a measurement artifact or a true phenomenon. Several hormones affect sexual arousal, including testosterone , cortisol , and estradiol. However, the specific roles of these hormones are not clear. It plays a key role in sexual arousal in males, with strong effects on central arousal mechanisms. Research has found testosterone levels increase as a result of sexual cognitions in females that do not use hormonal contraception.

However, it is unclear whether higher levels of testosterone cause increased arousal and in turn multiple partners or whether sexual activity with multiple partners cause the increase in testosterone. While human sexuality is well understood, scientists do not completely grasp how other animals relate sexually. However, current research studies suggest that many animals, like humans, enjoy sexual relations that are not limited to reproduction.

Dolphins and bonobos , for example, are both well known to use sex as a "social tool to strengthen and maintain bonds. Cementing social bondage is one of the most prominent theorized selective advantages of group selection theory. Experts in the evolution of sex such as John Maynard Smith advocate for the idea that the exchange of sexual favors helps congeal and localize the assortment of alleles in isolated population and therefore is potentially a very strong force in evolution.

Maynard Smith has also written extensively on the "seminal fluid swapping theory" logistic application of the assortment of alleles as a more accurate synthetic depiction of the Hardy—Weinberg principle in cases of severely interbreeding populations. The effect of sexual response is thought to be a plastic positive reinforcement behavior modifier associated with the Baldwin effect.

The display of secondary sex characteristics in humans such as a penis-like enlarged clitoris in females during arousal and gynecomastia in males are thought to have once been objects of mate selection in human evolution because of the persistence of the phenomenon of these features invoking sexual arousal for potential mates in cross-cultural studies.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Turn On. This article is about sexual arousal in humans. For sexual arousal in other species, see Animal sexual behaviour.

Arousal of sexual desire, during or in anticipation of sexual activity. For the documentary film, see Aroused film. For other uses, see Arousal. Main articles: Sexual stimulation and Erogenous zone. See also: Sexual arousal disorder , Hypoactive sexual desire disorder , and Female sexual arousal disorder.

See also: Libido. Main article: Human sexual response cycle.