How We Get Aroused

Sexual arousal is a bit of a taboo topic, and the mention of it usually makes us feel both uncomfortable and embarrassed.  At the end of the day however, it is a very natural experience and comes down to simple physical responses and changes in the body. 


The Science of Arousal

Sexual arousal usually begins in the brain. This arousal is both sexual and emotional, rooted in feelings of lust for your partner as well as love and affection.  For both men and women, one of the chief components of sexual arousal is increased blood flow to the genital area causing increased sensitivity and stiffness.

For both sexes, heart rate and blood pressure increases, and breathing intensifies. In addition, there is a surge of sex hormones like testosterone, cortisol, and estradiol which contribute to the sexual response. 

Male v. Female Arousal

In simple terms, the process of male and female sexual response is similar, but due to the difference in reproductive organs, arousal manifests itself differently for male and female counterparts.

For Women: When sexual arousal is triggered in the brain, there a few key changes that occur for women:

  • Blood flow to the genital area
  • The vagina becomes lubricated with fluid
  • Increased clitoral sensitivity and swelling

For Men: Although the basics are quite similar, the physical changes are much more visible. Some of the key changes for men are:

  • Increased blood flow into the penis, leading to erection
  • Pressure builds up inside the penis, and prevents blood flow out keeping the organ stiff
  • Lubricating seminal fluid flows to the urethral opening
  • Testicles move closer to the body

The physical response of sexual arousal for men and women is near universal for everyone, and in that we can feel a solidarity with those around us.  Despite this commonality, more specific details about arousal like the time it take, what triggers arousal, and time to climax differ for everyone.  In that, it is the same and different for men and women, as well everyone in general.