Sexual Response Cycle

Updated: SEPTEMBER 18, 2017

The sexual response cycle, also know as the human sexual response cycle, is a four-stage model that explains the physiological responses to sexual activity and stimulation. The model contains four stages: excitement phase, plateau phase, orgasmic phase, and resolution phase. This is the classic model, but others have been proposed.

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Proposed in 1966 by sex researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, the human sexual response cycle is the most widely-used model in physiology, medicine, and psychology. The phases are the same for men and women, although the cycle looks a little bit different for both genders. This is because women do not have a refractory period, like men do. While men have one typical response cycle, three have been identified for women.

Since 1966, other models have been suggested, including the incentive-motivation model (people feel sexual desire because they have sex, rather than the opposite) and the circular model, which, according to some studies, better explains women's sexual response cycle than the classic Masters-Johnson model.


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