Stigma, taboo, cultural upbringing, social stereotypes. These are all reasons why sexuality might not be discussed, whether between parents and children or friends and peers. That is unfortunate because it is so necessary to be able to talk about these things without fear. The goal of sexuality is pleasure, but that is not possible if we canít even begin to discuss it.
The "Masters & Johnson Sexual Response Cycle" is crude in how it shows the phases that our body goes through: (1) Excitement, (2) Plateau, (3) Orgasm, (4) Resolution. Thus, everything goes linearly to the goal, orgasm, and then things settle down again. But thatís crazy! Thereís so much more to sexual pleasure. Orgasm is not even a necessary part of enjoyment.
Thatís where the newer "Loulanís Sexual Reponse Cycle" (picture only available on printed Health Tips) comes in. The stages for that one include: (1) Willingness, (2) Desire, (3) Excitement (Emotional), (4), Engorgement (Physical), (5) Orgasm, (6) Pleasure, and (7) Return to Resting State. The difference here, though, is that one can move back and forth between any of these stages, or skip one or more of them entirely. The cycle doesnít even have to end with orgasm or pleasure, but can Shut Down at any time. Hereís a brief summary of each of the stages.
WILLINGNESS: In order for pleasure to eventually be reach, you need to be initially willing to have sex, no matter what the reason may be. Whether you have intense emotional feelings for your partner, or you are just looking for a one-night stand or a quickie, it doesnít matter as long as you are willing to go through with it.
DESIRE: There are three types of desire Intellectual (what we experience from our minds), Emotional (what we experience from the heart), and Physical (what we experience from our bodies: lust).
EXCITEMENT and ENGORGEMENT: These stages are mostly physical, but include some emotion. Still, they do not necessarily mean that you love your partner since this is a normal bodily function. Donít mistake lust for love.... Remember too that foreplay is really a misleading term since it implies that it is before something else, in this case the "goal" of orgasm. But it is entirely possible that the sex ends after this stage, that it moves from here to Pleasure and then Resting State. Does that mean the sex was deficient because no orgasm was ever reached? No! What is important is that both partners enjoyed each other.
ORGASM: It seems that the American public stresses out way too much over this stage. Did I reach orgasm? Did my partner experience orgasm? Was it good enough? Just think of all the times youíve seen this referred to in womenís magazine articles, in conversation with friends, at the movies. Even porno filmmakers emphasize this in the cum-shot where the male pulls out at the very end so that we can all see him have his orgasm while he ejaculates all over the place. In general, do not worry about it! Sex can skip this stage entirely, or it can be repeated over and over. It doesnít matter, as long as you enjoyed yourselves.
PLEASURE: Now this is the goal of sex and it can be reached after any point in the cycle.
Source: Lecture by Monica Zawkiewicz, Public Health 104B, UHS.
Photograph above is courtesy of Brian J. Bowers' Network / FTP Archive