Female Sexual Act – Arousal, Erection, Lubrication and Orgasm

There are many misconceptions about female sexual health and act. The processes involved in arousal, facilitation of the act and orgasm is not significantly different from men, albeit the difference in the sex organs among the genders. Differences do, however, also lie in the psyche of men and women, cultural perceptions, social impact, personal inhibitions as well as the possibility of pregnancy should a woman partake in sex. These issues may not have a significant impact or be of consequence in males, the male sexual act or performance. The female sexual act can be broadly divided into stimulation (arousal), erection and lubrication and orgasm.

Arousal

As with men, physical and psychological stimulation is important to facilitate the other stages of the female sexual act. The process is a combination of hormonal factors and nerve impulses particularly with stimulation of certain areas like the vulva, vagina and perineal regions. With women, the hormonal changes seen during different phases of the menstrual cycle may also contribute to easier arousal. This typically peaks around the time of ovulation. Sexual thoughts are equally as important for arousal in women as it is in men. The effect of visible stimuli may vary in the genders. The psychological component of arousal may include additional emotional and mental factors like being in a secure relationship and being comfortable with the partner.

Erection

Women have erectile tissue that is very similar to the penile tissue in men and functions physiologically in much the same way. However, the absence of a penis may not always produce the same visibly prominent effects. This erectile tissue extends from the area around the vaginal orifice (introitus) to the clitoris. The accumulation of blood in this tissue tightens the orifice around the penis. The neurotransmitters involved in this regards are the same as those released by the parasympathetic nerve fibers running to the penis – nitric oxide, cGMP and cAMP. In women, these fibers also emanate from the sacral segment of the spinal cord.

Lubrication

The Bartholin’s glands are stimulated by these parasympathetic impulses. This increases mucus secretion inside the vagina in conjunction with the secretion from the vaginal epithelium. These secretions along with that from the penis provides lubrication to facilitate a satisfactory massaging sensation of the vagina during intercourse.  This is essential for eventually reaching an orgasm. Conversely a lack of sufficient lubrication irritates the vagina and hampers a possible orgasm.

Orgasm

The local stimulation of the vagina needs to be sufficient in intensity and duration to initiate local reflexes. This eventually leads to an orgasm in women in a similar manner to emission and ejaculation in men. It leads to rhythmical contractions of the uterus and the release of the hormone oxytocin. These effects are also believed to facilitate the transport of sperm to the fallopian tubes to possibly fertilize an egg cell (ovum) if present. The orgasm also stimulates certain parts of the brain which causes increased muscle tension throughout the body followed by relaxation and an ensuing sense of satisfaction.

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