Things that happen to your body during sex – All the proof you need that the human body is incredible. During sex, you’re probably not thinking things like, “Wow, my dilated blood vessels have allowed more blood to rush to my vagina, resulting in extra-pleasurable sensations!” But the truth is that when you’re aroused or having sex, your body and brain are lighting up like a pinball machine and doing various things to make the experience as mind-blowing as possible.
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The process your body undergoes when you get turned on and have sex is called the sexual response cycle. “It’s this symphony of activity,” Jamil Abdur-Rahman, M.D., board-certified ob/gyn and chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, Illinois, tells SELF.
Scientists break the sexy cycle into five phases that take place from the moment you get turned on to the exhausted, blissed-out comedown. Here’s what goes down when you get down:
Phase 1: Desire (Or the part where you start to really want it)
Cleveland Clinic doesn’t list desire, or the feeling of wanting to have sex, as an official part of the sexual response cycle. But Planned Parenthood does, and for good reason: It’s hella important, especially for women.
“In the beginning of a relationship, many women do experience spontaneous desire the way it’s portrayed in the media, as couples ripping each other’s clothes off after a single sexy glance,” sex therapist Ian Kerner, Ph.D., author of She Comes First, tells SELF. “But research has borne out that for many women, desire is responsive, meaning that it responds to something that comes before it [like physical arousal].”
So, for some women (especially when in a new relationship or when hooking up with someonenew and exciting), desire might come first. But for others, it may not kick in until after the fooling around has commenced, and that’s totally normal, says Kerner.
Phase 2: Excitement (aka IT’S ON!)
Your body is either responding to desire or to some sort of stimulation from your partner. Here’s what happens.
1. Your heart rate and blood pressure start climbing.
2. Depending on your skin color, you may notice what’s called a “sex flush,” or reddening skin, creeping up around your chest and neck.
3. “Your body releases more nitric oxide, which causes your muscles to relax and also causes the blood supply to the vagina and cervix in particular to increase quite a bit,” says Abdur-Rahman.