The male reproductive system - Cancer Research UK (2019)
S ex is the most talked-about, joked about, thought-about issue in our culture. We are not short of information on sexual practices - thank you, Fifty Shades of Grey - but there is a general absence of accurate detail of what happens to our bodies during, and as a result of, the act. Yet sex is good for our mental and physical health. It lowers the heart rate and blood pressure. It may boost the immune system to protect us against infections and it certainly lowers stress. The consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Leila Frodsham thinks we should be better educated about it. More information could make us healthier, happier and save the NHS lot of money, she believes.
Together they founded the Masters and Johnson Institute where they carried out their research and trained therapists. In a book called Human Sexual Response, published inthey described a four-stage cycle in heterosexual sex. First is the excitement or arousal phase in response to kissing, petting or watching erotic movies.
Half to three-quarters of women get a sex flush, which can show as pink patches developing on the breasts and spreading around the body. About a quarter of men get it too, starting on the abdomen and spreading to the neck, face and back.
Men quickly get an erection but may lose it and regain it during this phase. The clitoris, labia minora and the vagina all enlarge. The muscles around the opening of the vagina grow tighter, the uterus expands and lubricating fluid is produced.
The breasts also swell and the nipples get hard. Masters and Johnson say there is then a plateau phase, which in women is mostly more of the same.
When hooking up is working out
In men, muscles that control urine contract to prevent any mixing with semen and those at the base of the penis begin contracting. They may start to secrete some pre-seminal fluid. The third stage is orgasm, in which the pelvic muscles contract and there is ejaculation. Women also have uterine and vaginal contractions. The sensation is the same whether brought about by clitoral stimulation or penetration.
Frodsham says about a third of women easily have orgasms from penetrative sex, a third sometimes do and a third never do. But the clitoris is much larger than some people assume. Women can quickly orgasm again if stimulated, but men cannot.
The Science Of Sex: 5 Must-Know Facts About Your Brain And Desire
Last is the resolution phase, when everything returns to normal. Muscles relax and blood pressure drops.
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Take the female orgasm, for instance. Some women describe orgasm in a much more focal way. Some describe it in a diffuse way with, for instance, a tingling down their legs. Some women describe losing consciousness.
Science and sex
And then there is the male erection. A healthy man may have three to five erections in a night, each lasting around half an hour. The one many wake up with is the last of the series.
May 23, The science of sex: what happens to our bodies when we're aroused? It's good for our mental and physical health, lowering blood pressure and boosting the immune system. Sarah Boseley.
The cause is unknown, but there are suggestions of a link with REM rapid eye movement sleep, when people are most likely to dream. Even in the daylight hours, erections are not necessarily under conscious control. Usually they are associated with sexual arousal, but not always.
Mayo Clinic Specialized Center of Research Excellence (SCORE) on Sex Differences
There is an assumption that sexual desire and libido are strongest in the young and fade out as we age. But there is plenty of evidence of people wanting sex and having sex at older ages. For women, the menopause can be a real obstacle. The loss of oestrogen leads to vaginal and vulval dryness.
Frodsham points out that hormonal treatments, from oestrogen tablets in pessaries delivered locally into the vagina to creams and gels, are safe and effective. But so is having regular sex, she says. But she cautions against the current enthusiasm for promoting the health benefits of sex for all ages. Masters and Virginia E.
Johnson were the first researchers to observe sex in the laboratory, in s United States. They studied prostitutes in their early experiments, due to concerns that nobody else would volunteer to take part. In total, women wore electrocardiographs to ascertain their heart rate and electroencephalographs to monitor their brain activity, so the experimenters could measure their responses to pornography, masturbation, or vibrators.
They observed over couples, who had been randomly assigned into pairs, having sex. They also studied their own sexual response - having sex with each other for science, while wired up in the laboratory.
It had enormous influence on how sex was conceptualised in medicine and society at large. This meant experimental methods were adopted without question; it was all hard science no pun intended. But the applicability of such methods to the complex phenomenon that is sexual desire and response has been questioned by many contemporary sex researchers and social scientists.
Male students who volunteer for sexual experiments have been found to have engaged in more diverse sexual behaviours. Measuring bodily response is not the only way to understand sex. Some would say that sex is all in the mind, with beliefs and feelings more important than bodily functioning. Questions have also been raised about the representative nature of those who take part in sex research. Male students who volunteer for sexual experiments have been found to be less sexually fearful and guilty than those who refuse.
Women volunteers have been found to have had more sexual trauma, to masturbate more frequently and to have had greater exposure to pornography at an early age, as well as having less sexual fear. Today, researchers who use experimental methods to study sex are in the minority.
Ethical considerations, difficulties in recruitment, difficulties in getting funding, and awareness that sex is more than the body, are some of the reasons for this.
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Contemporary sex researchers mainly use questionnaires or interviews, asking people about their sexual experiences and desires. But participant bias is also a problem in self-reporting sex research. They also have higher self-esteem and are more generally self-disclosing.
Many people who volunteer to take part in sex research have concerns or difficultiesand want to help others in the same situation.
Others are simply relaxed about their bodies and sexuality - and happy to further scientific understanding of sexual behaviour. Deciding which method is best for studying sex depends on the research question.
They also studied their own sexual response - having sex with each other for science, while wired up in the laboratory. Their "human sexual response cycle" theory resulted from this work. Science, Sex, and the Ladies is an innovative non fiction movie detailing how our cultural (mis)understanding of female orgasm breaks female sexuality and in doing so attenuates sex and sexuality for everyone. Feb 04, The difference between sex and gender is that sex is a biological concept based on biological characteristics such as difference in genitalia in male and female. Gender on the other hand primarily deals with personal, societal and cultural perceptions of sexuality.
Those interested in the functioning of the body measure sexual response in the laboratory.