Sexual arousal

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Activities leading to sexual arousal, such as kissing, are often called foreplay.
"Unwelcome arousal", artwork by J Tesker (2010).
A young man experiences "unwelcome arousal" while being forcibly stripped naked and positioned across his bosses lap. Artwork by OTTO (2010)

Sexual arousal (“Turn On”) is a reaction that stimulates sexual desires in preparation for sexual behaviour. Turn-ons may be physical or mental in nature. Given the right stimulation (for example, masturbation or sexual intercourse), sexual arousal in humans will typically intensify and may end in an orgasm. However sexual arousal but may also be pursued for its own sake, even in the absence of an orgasm.

The adjective erogenous means sexually arousing (from Greek eros - love; and genein - to produce).

Activities designed to cause and intensify sexual arousal are called sexual or erotic stimulation.

Causes[edit]

Sexual arousal in females[edit]

The time between the initial sexual arousal until orgasm may include the following physical changes:

  • Enlargement of the breasts
  • The skin may become flushed, females may experience heightened sensitivity in parts of their body, like erection of nipples
  • Vaginal lubrication
  • Change in shape, color and size of the labia majora and labia minora
  • Vasocongestion will result in the clitoris becoming engorged
  • The clitoris can withdraw into the clitoral hood and the external clitoris can shorten in size
  • There may be a sex flush, muscle tension, increase in heart rate and rising blood pressure
  • Clitoral tumescence and erection
  • Elevation of the cervix and uterus, and expansion of the back of the vagina

Sexual arousal in males[edit]

  • Penile tumescence and erection (usually the most prominent and reliable sign of sexual arousal in males; however, adolescent males experience frequent 'non-sexual' erections stemming from their high level of testosterone, and there are also nocturnal erections that do not come from sexual arousal.)
  • Retraction and tightening of the foreskin, often exposing the glans penis if not normally exposed (only if the particular male is not circumsized)
  • Emission of pre-ejaculatory fluid
  • Swelling of the testes
  • Ascension of the testes
  • Tensing and thickening of the scrotum

In both sexes[edit]

When arousal becomes intense, close to orgasm:

See also[edit]


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