Female Sexual Response

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The female sexual response is the series of feelings and physical sensations a woman has when she is sexually aroused. Every woman has her own sexual response pattern, which is likely to change over her lifetime.

Emotionally, the healthy sexual response includes feelings of desire, arousal or excitement, and then satisfaction. Many women do not feel desire until they are stimulated enough to become aroused.

Physically, a sexually aroused woman feels:

  • Excitement and plateau. The genital area feels "full" as blood fills the blood vessels in the pelvis, vulva, and clitoris. The vagina and vaginal lips (labia) become wet with clear fluid. Muscles begin to tighten up throughout the body, and breathing quickens. This intensifies.
  • Climax. Stimulation of the clitoris (and sometimes other sensitive areas) leads to a peak of muscle tension. When this is suddenly released (orgasm), pleasurable muscle contractions in the pelvis follow.
  • Resolution. The body relaxes.

For a woman who has suffered abuse, it is common for the sexual response to be mixed with, or blocked by, fear, shame, anxiety, anger, or physical pain.

Current as of: June 4, 2014

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine & Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology