Sex Cycle

Sex Cycle

Sexuality starts in the mind

The brain is responsible for making you feel interested in sex through fantasies, memories, imagination and feelings. These thoughts are created by what you see, smell, touch, taste, hear and remember.

Stages of sexual response

DESIRE/LIBIDO is the interest you have in sex

Desire is complex and is influenced by emotional, social and biological factors, including:

  • overall wellbeing
  • relationship satisfaction
  • body image
  • the desire to express love, receive pleasure, please your partner and create a sense of intimacy and connection

Excitement or arousal is when you begin to feel ready for sex

You may become aroused by:

  • seeing someone you like
  • having a sexual thought or fantasy
  • having your genitals or some other sensitive areas touched, kissed or stroked
  • starting to masturbate or having oral sex

As you become aroused:

  • your blood pressure rises
  • heart rate increases
  • blood is sent to the genital areas
  • your nipples may harden
  • your penis becomes erect and sensitive
  • your clitoris becomes erect and more sensitive
  • your vagina moistens and increases in depth and width
  • sexual arousal may lead to an orgasm but this doesn’t always happen

After cancer you may experience changes to your orgasm > you’ll learn more about this in a bit

Orgasm is the peak of sexual response

During orgasm:

  • Your nervous system creates intense pleasure that you experience in the genital area
  • Your muscles in the genital area contract in rhythm, sending waves of pleasurable feelings through the body
  • Breathing becomes faster and shallower
  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • You may sweat
  • The muscles around the base of the penis begin to squeeze in rhythm, pushing the semen through the urethra and out of the penis for ejaculation
  • Your clitoris becomes intensely sensitive
  • Your vagina expands and contracts
  • You may also experience a small ejaculation

Orgasms can vary in length and intensity and can be reached in different ways:

  • Vaginal penetration
  • Applying lubrication or touching the vulva
  • Stimulating the clitoris through masturbation, oral sex or with vibrators
  • Stroking the breasts or inner thighs (‘outercourse’)
  • Resolution is the phase where your breathing, heart rate and blood pressure return to normal
  • It is common that men cannot be sexually aroused again for a while. The length of time between erections usually increases with age.

Keep in mind:

  • Ageing and illness can affect your sexual response
  • It is common that the longer you’ve not been sexually active, the less intense your sexual response may become
  • Cancer treatment can impact your sexual response
  • Changes to sexual responses are common
  • Changes to function do not mean you can’t still be sexually satisfied