30 Mar Phases of Arousal – Vive la Difference!
Learn about the different phases of sexual arousal in both men and women, as well as understanding a bit more about what women need in order to feel relaxed enough to get aroused. There’s some key information in here that is often missing from discourse around sex and pleasure so let’s get into it!
The anatomy of pleasure
There are many regions on and inside a woman that loving touch can open to provide deep sensual and orgasmic experiences. A woman’s entire body can be orgasmic, but for most women, awakening the sexual energy does not start with the sexual organs – touching them often comes much later.
I have found that where women touch themselves can influence different types of orgasm. Though every woman has slightly different anatomy and her own particular kind of orgasm, the most commonly known (and the least satisfying) is the clitoral orgasm. The g-spot orgasm is more powerful and cervical orgasm is also possible, as is a full vaginal orgasm and a whole-body orgasm. Sexual energy can even make random parts of our body feel orgasm.
My observation over the years has been that for a woman’s sexual energy and sexual body to awaken on the energetic, emotional and psychological levels, most women need first to feel a sense of safety, affection, of being loved. And so before their body will respond in a wholesome sexual way, they need sensual touch. Men (of course in general and depending on circumstance) like to know that full sex is eventually going to happen. So some initial sexual touch can help a man to slow down and relax into the sensual experience of ‘foreplay’.
The phases of arousal
To my mind, the phases of arousal reflect a series of emotional and psychological events that allow a feeling of safety. From there closeness may progress to intimate contact. This makes evolutionary as well and psychological sense because before, during and after sex women are uniquely vulnerable. And sex requires us to be at the same time active and excited but also relaxed and open.
Through touch, facial expression and voice, the feelings of safety necessary for allowing close and then intimate contact need can be evoked body-to-body. Words and touch create the initial emotional safety that allows a woman to stay fully present and not to disconnect from her bodily experience. These embodied sensations translate psychologically into emotions of love and a sense that one’s needs will be met.
Of course a woman’s body may respond with sexual arousal in many kinds of situations. However, in my experience a relaxed, non-adrenalised opening of a woman’s sexual body leaves no trace of trauma, whereas other kinds of experience often do. However, there are exceptions: what is arousing for one person – for instance anonymity, danger, violence – may be a total turn-off for someone else. Nor are a person’s arousal zones and excitement zones pre-set, but can change in the course of a person’s sexual life; they can be learnt and nurtured.
The science behind the pleasure
For the autonomic nervous system to fully engage the sexual brain and body, the underlying security that welcomes holding and then loving must first be set in place. Though the case for slow communicative sex is biologically based, unfortunately this is a key component to good sex that most of us were never taught about.
Men need to know that giving their girlfriend a gentle shoulder massage before love-making warms up her parasympathetic nervous system, making her body more open, activating feelings of trust and so making deeper love and stronger orgasms more likely.
Vive la difference!
The same applies the other way around. A happy healthy sex life has to have the right kind of giving on both sides. Men and women need to be able and confident to let their partners know what they like and don’t like.
This brings us to the difference between men and women, for it seems we are wired rather differently for sexual touch. In the initial arousal phase a man’s body wants to be touched on the inner thighs, perineum, genitals and nipples.
However, for a woman, the same areas are ready only during the excitement phase after non-genital touch has her fully aroused by touching her shoulders, neck, throat, the sides of her breasts, her belly and waist, buttocks and knees. Women need time, connection, trust and love, so a lover who goes to her genitals too early while she is still only in her arousal phase can be a real turn-off.
Only once the arousal phase has got her sexual energy flowing does the excitement system awaken the inner thighs, breasts and sexual organs for stimulation. Conversely, only after a man’s genital arousal areas have been stimulated and his sexual energy is flowing does the rest of his body open to arousal. A woman who starts softly stroking his body before he is excited will probably make him wish she would go to his genitals first.
So, together we have delved a little deeper into the ways in which men and women’s bodies can experience arousal and sexual pleasure differently. Of course, everyone is unique and this is generally speaking. It’s worth taking note of our potential differences in order to better understand how you yourself may experience pleasure and how to explore stimulation with yourself or your partner.