Sexual behavior, which comprises physiologic, anatomic, and psycho-social factors, is unique in every individual, and therefore, no one definition of sexual behavior is universally accepted. The female sex organs make it possible for women to become pregnant and give birth to children. But they have other important jobs, too: They produce hormones, control the process of girls maturing into grown women, and make sex and sexual pleasure possible. Like men, women have external and internal sex organs.
What are the sexual organs of a female?
The external female sex organs include:
- Outer labia (labia majora)
- Inner labia (labia minora)
- Vaginal vestibule
- Bartholin’s glands
The external sex organs allow for sexual intercourse and sexual pleasure. The skin and mucous membranes on the external sex organs, especially on the head (glans) of the clitoris, the inner labia and the vaginal vestibule have a lot of nerves and are very sensitive. As a result, touching and rubbing this area can cause sexual arousal and increased pleasure that may lead to orgasm.
The internal sex organs include:
- Fallopian tubes
- Uterus (womb)
The sexual act
In order for coitus to occur humans need to be sexually aroused. Sexual arousal is then followed by a series of phases. These phases are:
- excitement phase
- plateau phase
- orgasmic phase
- resolution phase.
Phase One: Excitement
This phase usually begins within 10 to 30 seconds after erotic stimulation, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. Vaginal lubrication begins. The vagina expands and lengthens. The outer lips, inner lips, clitoris and sometimes breasts begin to swell. Heart rate, blood pressure and breathing are all accelerated.
Phase Two: Plateau
The changes that started in the excitement phase continue to progress. The vaginal lips become puffier. The tissues of the walls of the outer third of the vagina swell with blood, and the opening to the vagina narrows. The clitoris disappears into its hood. The inner labia (lips) change color (although it’s a bit hard to notice). For women who’ve never had children, the lips turn from pink to bright red. In women who’ve had children, the color turns from bright red to deep purple. Breathing and pulse rates quicken. A “sex flush” may appear on the stomach, chest, shoulders, neck or face. Muscles tense in the thighs, hips, hands and buttocks, and spasms may begin.
Phase Three: Orgasm
This is the climax of the cycle. It is also the shortest of the four phases, usually only lasting a few seconds. The first third of the vaginal walls contract rhythmically every eight-tenths of a second. (The number and intensity of the contractions vary depending on the individual orgasm.) The muscles of the uterus also contract barely noticeably. Breathing, pulse rate and blood pressure continue to rise. Muscle tension and blood-vessel engorgement reach a peak. Sometimes orgasm comes with a grasping-type muscular reflex of the hands and feet.
Phase Four: Resolution
This phase is a return to the normal resting state. It can last from a few minutes to a half-hour or longer. This stage is generally longer for women than men. Swelling recedes, any sex flush disappears, and there is a general relaxation of muscle tension.
Understanding what’s happening to you and your partner’s bodies during sex can only aid in the full enjoyment of the experience. Combine this with some good communication skills, and you’ve found the key to unlock sexual pleasure and your heart’s desires.
Differences in the female and male sexual acts
There are several differences in the physiological sexual response of males and females:
- Emission and ejaculation do not occur in the female
- Females are capable of several orgasms and the orgasm may last relatively longer than that of a male
- Females are able to reach the plateau phase and sustain it then return to an unstimulated state without orgasm
Female Sexual Response
The autonomic nervous system that controls the four parts of coitus is the same in males and females, however the responses of the genital organs are different. Within females, the excitement phase results in anatomical changes that increase the circumference of the vaginal diameter at the level of the pelvis and lubricate the vagina for penile entry.
Following the excitement phase, the plateau phase comes in. The labia minora becomes red in appearance. Also, the respiratory rate, heart rate and blood pressure increases. Within females, the orgasmic phase does not include emission and ejaculation. The orgasm includes contraction of the lower third of the vagina and can extend to whole vagina and uterus. The final phase of resolution encompasses several changes that result in the return of the structures to normal unstimulated states.