Sexual Response Cycle According to Masters and Johnson

Subject: Gender Studies
Type: Compare and Contrast Essay
Pages: 3
Word count: 779
Topics: Human Sexuality, Sex Education

Table of Contents

When people talk about the sexual response cycle, it simply means a set of emotional and physical changes that happen when an individual becomes sexually excited as well as participates in sexually stimulating activities. According to Masters and Johnson, a relationship can improve by knowing the way the body reacts amid each phase of the cycle. Moreover, understanding the reaction of the body can quickly make a person identify the causes of sexual dysfunction (Crooks & Baur, 2010). Masters and Johnson asserted that sexual response cycle in human sexuality is depicted as a model with various stages, which include excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution, where all involve physiological reaction stimulated by sexual stimulation (Everaerd, 2015). Although both men and women encounter these phases, it is apparent that differences and similarities exist in the sexual response cycles of the two genders.

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Differences and Similarities

In the excitement stage, both male and female have a different sexual response. For the men, they experience engorgement of the penis as well as tightening and thickening of the scrotal skin. The testicles also move nearer to the body (Everaerd, 2015). On the other hand, the clitoris of women becomes erect and their nipples, vagina, and labia minora increase in size as well. The lubrication of the vagina also occurs as labia majora spreads and separates. The similarities that exist between the two genders in this phase are the fact that their bodies experience an increase in muscle tension, blood pressure, and heart rate (Kok, 2004). Even though the lasting period can vary for each person, the blood engorges the abdominal area of the both sexes thereby leading to penis increase, erection of the clitoris, and sex flush.

In the plateau stage, a male achieves a full erection that makes it hard to lose. The scrotum also becomes tight and thick, making the testicles to move nearer to the body cavity. Due to the contractions of penis muscles, Cowper’s gland starts to separate, thus releasing secretions (Everaerd, 2015). For the females, the inner vagina extends to make space for semen and a tenting effect. Besides, the increased blood flow to the outer vagina makes it engorged, thus creating the platform of orgasm (Kok, 2004). As the excitement improves, both genders experience an increase in heart rate, muscle tension, pressure of blood, and respiration rate.

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The third stage of the sexual response cycle, according to Masters and Johnson, is the orgasm. In this phase, men pass through emission and expulsion process. Various organs, such as internal and external urethral sphincters, vas deferens, the prostate, and the seminal vesicles, usually contract to develop semen and hold it to avoid entering into the bladder (Everaerd, 2015). Additionally, these parts are crucial in preventing the crossing of urine during the buildup of semen. At the same time, the sperm is ejected from the urethral opening as it causes a sensation feeling of inevitable and imminent ejaculation. In females, there is a high feeling of intense sensation that leads to a significant contraction of uterine, vaginal, and pelvic muscles. Aside from that, both male and female share various things such as an increase in blood pressure and heart rate as the body perspires. Moreover, the two also experience intense sensations and muscular contractions. Due to the pleasant psychological feelings felt by both sexes, they can release sexual tension (Kok, 2004).

Resolution is the last stage of the sexual response cycle where the body returns to its normal state. The erect body organs also return to their normal size. In this case, men lose the erection, and the penis decreases in size since the blood leaves its tissues. The scrotal skin becomes loose and thick, thus making the testicles shrink in size and move down from the body. At the same time, men become ineffective to have another orgasm since they enter into a recovery period (Everaerd, 2015). For the females, the clitoris, vagina, and uterus return to their original size due to the relaxation of muscles. The cervix lowers into the pool formed by the semen in the vagina so that it can fertilize it. In both sexes, similarities do exist in the fact that they return to the unaroused state and experience pleasant psychological after-effects (Kok, 2004). The previous sex flush disappears as well as respiration, blood, and heart rate return to normal.

From the above information, it is evident that sexual response cycle of males and females has differences and similarities. As stated by Masters and Johnson, sexual responses in men and women may vary or have a common effect as they pass through the phases of the sexual response cycle that include excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

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  1. Crooks, R., & Baur, K. (2010). Our sexuality (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  2. Everaerd, W. (2015). Sexual response cycle. The International Encyclopedia of Human Sexuality, 1115-1354.
  3. Kok, E. (2004). Differences between male and female sexual functioning. South African Family Practice46(4), 12-15.
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