What Happens to Your Bodies During Sex?

Medically Reviewed on 2/2/2023

4 Phases of physical and emotional changes during sex

While engaging in sex or during masturbation, your body undergoes changes
There are four different phases of the sexual response cycle.

While engaging in sex or during masturbation, your body undergoes physical and emotional changes known as the sexual response cycle. You need to know the body’s response toward each cycle phase to enhance the relationship or identify the cause of sexual dysfunction.

The four different phases of the sexual response cycle include:

  1. The desire (libido)
  2. Arousal (excitement)
  3. Orgasm
  4. Resolution

Both men and women go through these phases, although the timing differs in both genders. Keeping the following things in mind may enhance the sexual relationship:

  • Men typically reach orgasm first during intercourse.
  • Women may not go through all these stages, or these stages may not occur in this sequence.
  • Besides, the intensity of the response and the time spent in each phase differs.
  • In some, foreplay or any act of intimacy is required for sexual stimulation.

Phase 1: Desire (libido)

These responses start within 10 to 30 seconds after an erotic stimulation and can last from a few minutes to many hours. The responses include:

  • The muscle tension increases
  • Heart rate is paced and breathing accelerates
  • Hot flushes around the skin (patches of redness in the chest and abdomen)
  • Nipples erect and harden
  • Blood flow to the penis and clitoris increases resulting in the erection of the penis and swelling of the clitoris
  • Vaginal lubrication begins
  • Breasts become fuller and the vaginal wall begins to swell
  • The testicles swell with the secretion of lubricating liquid

Phase 2: Arousal (excitement)

General characteristics of this phase, which extends to the verge of the orgasm include:

  • The changes that started in the previous phase continue to intensify
  • The vagina continues to swell, and the vaginal wall changes to dark purple
  • The clitoris becomes extremely sensitive and painful to touch and even retracts to its hood
  • The testicles are retracted up in the scrotum
  • Heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure accelerate
  • Muscle spasms may start in the feet, face, and hands

Phase 3: Orgasm

Also known as the climax phase, this phase is one of the shortest and lasts for about a few seconds. The typical features of this phase include:

  • Beginning of involuntary muscle contractions
  • Breathing, blood pressure, and heart rates are at the maximum
  • Muscle spasm continues in the feet
  • The vaginal muscles contract with a rhythmic contraction of the uterus
  • Rhythmic contractions of the muscles at the base of the penis lead to semen ejaculation
  • Rash or sex flush may appear over the entire body

Phase 4: Resolution

During this phase:

  • The body returns to its normal state
  • The swelled parts return to their original size
  • A sense of general well-being sneaks in
  • Fatigue
  • Women may return to the orgasm phase with some sexual stimulation, whereas men need recovery time after an orgasm known as the refractory period.
Medically Reviewed on 2/2/2023