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Arousal, Orgasm, and Post-Coital Behavior

Sexual Arousal

Why is sexual arousal important?

Arousal is essential for sex, evolutionary theorists argue, because sex is gross. Naked bodies, bodily fluids, and unusual sounds are all generally things that, outside of a sexual context, many people find disgusting. Disgust is a core human emotion, and an important one: It helps to alert us to potential pathogens and foster survival. But sexual disgust can prevent couples from reproducing and so humans may have evolved to allow sexual arousal to supersede disgust, thus perpetuating the species.

Is sexual arousal a reliable feeling?

Not always. Often sexual arousal is a sign of passion and commitment between partners. At other times, it may just be the residual effect of driving over a bridge, watching a scary movie, or riding a roller coaster. Research finds that the high arousal states generated by fear or (nonsexual) physical excitement, such as a racing heart or sweaty palms, can easily be misread by an individual as attraction to the person they are with at those moments. It may be best to avoid making romantic or sexual commitments in these moments.

The Keys to Better Sex

What are the keys to a great sex life?

When sex therapists and researchers discuss what makes for a truly great sex life, their lists are mainly composed of emotional or psychological factors, not physical ones. Communication is vital to a satisfying sex life, as are being intimate, vulnerable, and transparent with a partner; allowing oneself to be open to new experiences, and to fun; being in sync with each other, emotionally and sexually; and an ability to be in the moment and to be open to transcendent feelings

Do people enjoy sex less now than they used to?

Some researchers believe that the pace of contemporary life, as well as distractions like cellphones, are leading couples to derive less pleasure from their sexual encounters. Therapists suggest that individuals and couples spend more time becoming open and attuned to their bodies, and to their bodies’ signals of arousal and pleasure before, during, and after sex, to restore higher levels of satisfaction

Orgasm

What is orgasm?

An orgasm, or climax, is the intense and usually pleasurable release of sexual tension after sexual arousal and stimulation. During orgasm, one’s heart rate and blood pressure rise, breathing becomes faster and heavier, and involuntary muscle contractions occur, not only in the genitals but often in the hips, chest, head, and limbs. In men, orgasm typically involves the ejaculation of semen, though not always. In some women, orgasm also leads to the release of ejaculate.

How often do people achieve orgasm?

Research suggests that only about one in four women regularly reach orgasm during vaginal sex, while more than three quarters of men do. For males and females alike, orgasm is achieved faster and more reliably through masturbation. There are distinct health benefits in orgasm, including higher levels of oxytocin, which promotes bonding between partners, and increased blood flow to the brain.

What Happens After Sex

What is sexual afterglow?

Some researchers believe that the most important part of sex occurs after climax. The term sexual afterglow refers to the positive feelings that follow pleasurable sexual experiences, and some research suggests that it, and not the sex itself, determines how positively people feel about their sexual partners. Cuddling, kissing, and other expressions of intimacy after sex can increase afterglow, boost satisfaction, and extend the positive effects of sex on a relationship.

What do couples talk about after sex?

Research on “pillow talk” following sex has debunked the myth that men fall asleep first after sex: There’s no evidence of a gender difference. Also, women who reach orgasm during sex tend to talk more intimately after sex, revealing more about themselves. The release of the hormone oxytocin during sex, which promotes bonding, may foster this effect. Men with higher levels of testosterone after sex, however, appear to talk less, limiting bonding.

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