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Sexual Response Cycle: What Happens Before, During, and After Your Orgasm


When I first learned what happens physiologically when we’re turned on, my initial response was, “oh, so that’s what’s going on.” If you’ve never learned the details of your body’s sexual-response cycle than I think you might have the same reaction I did. If you have, it’s never bad to get a reminder on just how incredible our bods are! To learn the basics about all four stages, read more.

  1. Excitement: This phase is what you could consider as the foreplay portion. This is when muscle tension starts to build, blood rushes to your genitals and breasts, lubrication kicks into gear, and of course, your resting heart rate increases.
  2. Plateau: Ever feel like you just get stuck right before an orgasm? You’re probably trapped in the plateau phase, which occurs immediately preceding the big "O." This phase is marked by escalation of the traits in the excitement phase as well as muscle spasms. At this point the clitoris becomes highly sensitive, and in some cases, painful to the touch.
  3. Orgasm: Although fairly self-explanatory, during an orgasm your heart rate increases, accompanied by rapid breathing. Your body experiences many involuntary muscle contractions, specifically in the vagina and uterus.
  4. Resolution: The final phase is simply your body returning to its normal resting state. And it’s usually a time of good feelings and fatigue. Many women can easily return to the orgasm phase at this point, thus experiencing multiple orgasms.

Both men and women go through these same four stages, though obviously, men are marked by a series of different reactions specific to the male body. It’s most important to note that the time that each of these phases occur will vary for men and women. Being able to understand where your partner is versus where you are in the cycle can truly enhance your sexual experiences.

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