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Sexual Physiology



People interpret  their sexual responses in various ways. Body-response to sexual arousal are identical  whether the stimulation comes from  touching, kissing, intercourse, masturbation, fantasy, watching a movie, or reading a book. This statement does than dancing or playing the violin is " only" mechanical because certain parts of the body are involved in these activities. Human sexual response is multidimensional, with input from feelings and thoughts, learning and language, personal and cultural values, and many other sources combining  with our biological reflexes to create a total experience. 

To understand the complexities of human sexuality, it is helpful to become familiar with the details of sexual physiology functions of our sexual anatomy. Learning about the various responses of the body during sexual arousals and about  the forces that regulate them will increase your awareness of your own and your partner's responses and may clarify many  misconceptions, myths, and questions about sex. It is also important to understand sexual physiology to comprehend many sexual disorders. 

Sources Of Sexual Arousal

When people talk about sexual arousal, they frequently say  they are " turned on, " revved up" or hot". Each phrase likens sexual arousal to an energy system, and as a starting point, this comparison is useful. From a scientific perspective, sexual  arousal can be defined as a state of activation of a complex system of reflexes involving the sex organs and the nervous system. The brain itself, the  controlling part of the nervous system, operates with electrical and chemical impulses wired" to the rest of the body through the spinal cord and peripheral nerves. Signals from other parts of the body (like the skin, genitals , breasts) are integrated and focused in the brain, for  without sexual thoughts, feelings , or images sexual response is fragmentary and incomplete. At times, sexual arousal  may be largely a cerebral event that is, a person may be aroused while no  visible physical changes are  occurring elsewhere in the  body. On other  occasions genital sensations can be so intense that they block out  awareness of almost everything else.

Sexual arousal can occur under a wide variety of circumstances. It may be the  result of voluntary actions such as kissing, hugging , reading  a sexy book , or going  to an erotic movie. Sexual arousal can also be unexpected, unwanted, or event alarming. Consider, for instance, the following situations: 

1.  A twelve-year-old  boy gets an erection while taking a shower in a crowded all-male locker room at school; 

2.  A female college student who is an ardent feminist become sexually aroused while watching  a rape scene in a movie; 

3.  A female medical student is sexually excited when she examines an elderly male patient; 

4.  A male lawyer is sexually aroused by discussions with a female client who hires him to help her obtain a divorce. These people may be embarrassed or uncomfortable temporarily, but unexpected sexual arousal is normal and happens to most of us  occasionally. 

The sources of sexual  arousal are also varied. The process of getting " turned on"  may be triggered by direct physical contact such as a  touch or a kiss, or may be activated by a verbal invitation (" let's make love") a nonverbal message (" body language"), or a visual cue (such as nudity or a particular clothing style). It may also spring from fantasies or the most everyday occurrences clothing rubbing against the genitals, the  rhythm of a moving vehicle, or taking a bath or shower. 

Sexual arousal occurs in all age groups from infants to the elderly, and it occurs when we are asleep as well as when we are awake. Men have about a half dozen erections during a night's sleep (the erections usually last five to ten minutes), and women have similar episodes of vaginal lubrication during sleep. These reflex responses our automatically and are not controlled by the specific content of dreams. 


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