What happened to the women

The sexual arousal of the woman

A little chemistry and a lot of mental cinema: there are numerous physical processes behind female arousal. However, the pleasure also takes place to a large extent in the head.

What excites women?

Men and women are different in many ways - apart from the sexual organs involved, there are many things in common, especially when it comes to sexual pleasure. It has already been refuted today that sexual aversion is always a physical problem in men, but mostly a psychological problem in women.

+++ More on the topic: Sexual arousal in men +++

Both factors are important in both men and women. Stress, problems in the partnership as well as grief, anger or depression are common causes of listlessness for both sexes. Nevertheless, it is assumed that psychological well-being is more important for women and can therefore also have a stronger influence on the desire for sex.

+++ More on the topic: Sexual problems in women +++

When it comes to what is specifically perceived as exciting, there are various approaches from research. On the one hand, men should react more strongly to visual stimuli, while for women the simple sight of a naked male body often does not lead to arousal.

How can arousal in women be increased?

On the other hand, women are much more diverse than men when it comes to triggers - at least one study claims: While men clearly preferred heterosexual intercourse when it comes to pornography, women also responded to completely different variants: homoeroticism, group acts, even videos of sexual intercourse the animal kingdom were increasingly consumed by female users on relevant sites.

According to this, women are definitely more imaginative - but this does not say anything about the willingness to act out some fantasies. What triggers this discrepancy is a complex issue - but it is believed that social expectations and cultural norms play a major role.

Women often reach their peak of sexual pleasure between the ages of 30 and 35. This level is often maintained later even after the menopause. Although the statistics show that the frequency of sexual intercourse also decreases in women with age, this often has nothing to do with female displeasure: This is often due to the partner's lack of interest.

+++ More on the topic: Sex in old age +++

What happens when the woman is sexually aroused?

In women, the generation of arousal in the genital area is a complicated interplay of feelings, fantasies and physical reactions. However, the physical processes can generally be divided into four phases that are applicable to both sexes:

  • Arousal phase
  • Plateau phase
  • Orgasm phase
  • Regression phase

Arousal phase

During the excitement phase, the tension in the body increases. This tension, which is perceived positively, is triggered by caressing, touching, but also z. B. through sexual fantasies.

The physical sign is that the vagina is getting wet. The vagina becomes wider and longer, the vaginal skin becomes "juicy". The labia majora flatten and expose the entrance to the vagina. The labia minora become thicker and redder and help expose the vaginal entrance. Getting wet is part of the process of arousal and prepares the vagina to accommodate the penis so that it does not cause pain.

The clitoris increases in size and girth and protrudes slightly from its surroundings. At the same time, the nipples stand up and the breasts can easily swell and enlarge. Muscle twitching occurs involuntarily, and the pulse and blood pressure rise.

Plateau phase

The excitation phase changes to the plateau phase. The arousal is strong and stays steady for a while before reaching orgasm. During this time, the outer third of the vagina narrows. This is called an "orgasmic cuff". The strongest stimulus is exerted on the glans in this area as the penis moves back and forth.

The clitoris withdraws again, which means that it cannot be stimulated directly. However, it is indirectly excited by the movement of the penis. Blood pressure, pulse and breathing rate increase. The muscle twitches are increased.

Orgasm phase

The orgasm phase only lasts a few seconds. Muscle contractions or twitches occur, which can sometimes affect the whole body. This is followed by absolute relaxation. Just like men, some women can also have some type of ejaculation. Some liquid (no urine!) Can leak out of the urethra - in this case one speaks of female ejaculation.

In contrast to men, women can orgasm several times in quick succession. The experience of orgasms can be very different and is shaped by many influences. But the physiology is always the same.

The outer third of the vagina begins to contract rhythmically, and the same thing happens in the uterus. The sphincter muscle of the anus also contracts like the "orgasmic cuff" of the vagina. Muscle tension is not limited to the pelvic area, but affects the whole body. The pulse, blood pressure and respiratory rate only increase slightly compared to the plateau phase.

+++ More on the topic: The woman's orgasm +++

Regression phase

After the orgasm or the orgasms comes the regression phase. The body needs a certain amount of time to relax from total excitement. The blood has to redistribute itself. The labia reach their normal size again, the clitoris emerges slightly again, and the vaginal cuff recedes. The uterus swells and shifts back to its usual position.

+++ More on the topic: masturbation in women +++

Stay informed with the newsletter from netdoktor.at

Katrin Derler, BA (2017), Britta B├╝rger (first author, 2001)
Medical review:
Dr. med. Eva Lehner-Rothe
Editorial editing:
Claudia Schneider MA (2020)

Updated on:

William H Masters, Virginia E Johnson: Human sexual response. Little, Brown and Company, Boston 1966.
Chivers et al .: A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Psychological science, 15 (11). pp. 736-744, Essex 2004. (Online, last access: July 31, 2017)

More articles on the topic

Arousal and erection in men

The sexual excitement of the man is divided into four phases: In an excitation and a so-called plateau phase, the orgasm and the ...

Hormonal contraception

Pills, IUDs and the like - women who want to use hormonal contraception have a wide range of methods to choose from