Sex and Love
Arousal, orgasm and ejaculation
Are men sexier than women? Well, most people would probably answer yes, but I have a friend who tells me has no problem finding a woman willing to go to bed with him whenever he wants.
He has bedded over 50 women, mostly meeting them in nightclubs. He is never short of a companion for the night if he wants one. Now, it's true he's a bit of a stud, and very charismatic, but I have heard similar stories from guys who I believe in the past.
It makes me wonder: when you ask men and women how many sexual partners they have had, the men always claim more than the women (9, on average, for the men, and 5 for the women). But such surveys need to take account of who you're asking, where you're asking it, and what age the people concerned might be.
If the figures are true, then there's a small group of very highly sexed women having a lot of fun with a much bigger group of men! (As it happens, they are not true.
Recent research has shown that men over-estimate and women deliberately under-estimate. The actual figures are very similar for each sex, in each age group, when you conduct the research under truly anonymous conditions with more carefully controlled research techniques.)
Yet it's received wisdom that men are sexier than women: probably because they have more testosterone than women - between ten and twenty times more - and it is testosterone that provokes sexual desire.
Women's testosterone peaks in their cycle just before ovulation, which of course is when many women report they feel most horny.
But many men feel horny all the time, especially younger men, and it is the fairly constant level of testosterone in their blood which causes this.
Of course, this is only a generality, and some men have rather less sexual desire than others: certainly as men get older, their sexual responsiveness becomes more like a woman's, more dependent on situation, perhaps needing physical stimulation and the presence of a willing partner.
The frequent spontaneous erections of youth are, sadly, a long faded memory! But in general, men do appear to be sexier than women.
Now, why should this be so? Does the example of my friend in the night club prove that women are socialized out of their natural sexiness ("good girls don't do that kind of thing")? Or is there a natural difference between the sexes? Biologically, that would make sense.
In species where the presence of the male is need to help raise the offspring, the natural tendency of males to spread their seed around is curbed by the females being choosy, requiring courting before they allow sex, and expecting some proof of the male's fidelity before forming a pair bond.
I don't think it's too far fetched to say that we can see echoes of these biological premises in human behavior.
But even if that isn't true, the fact is that it is a lot easier for males to reproduce than females - their reproductive system is geared up to quick arousal, quick mating, and quick ejaculation.
It is not necessary for the female, who receives the semen, to be orgasmic, aroused or even receptive for the male to impregnate her; all that is necessary is that she has ovulated. So, biologically, female sexual arousal seems almost like an add-on extra!
Men, given the chance, will be sexual, even if they risk losing their existing mate in doing so. It seems almost as though men are driven by deep genetic impulses to spread their seed, while women want stability with a long term mate.
Even so, women are also happy to have sex if they feel horny, like the man at least somewhat, and are protected from the threat of pregnancy. So what exactly do men want from sex?
"We men have taken a lot of heat in recent years for our attitudes about sex. We are told that we are obsessed with sex, especially sex without love and commitment....but I think the criticisms themselves are wrong-headed and destructive.
Males can't help having their attitudes, which are probably due at least as much to physiology as to learning. Sex is, after all, life affirming, and there's no point in feeling bad about that... I think there's a lot to be admired in men's, especially boys' and young men's, attitude toward sex.
They are wonderfully curious, enthusiastic, and exuberant about it, and they're willing to pay enormous prices to pursue the subject." By Dr Bernie Zilbergeld, in The New Male Sexuality, published by Bantam Books.
In a Men's Health survey (See: Sex, A Man's Guide by S Bechtel and L Stains, Rodale Press, 1996) men complained bitterly that women did not understand the power of the male sex drive.
Men think about sex ten times as often as women, and they masturbate much more often. Women also disapprove - in general - of porn, while men don't give it much thought but use it as a tool to get aroused and get off.
The cause of this, of course, is the much higher level of testosterone in women than men. Women who are given testosterone supplements experience (of course) a very different level of sexual urgency, and the experience seems to be a revelation for them.
Germaine Greer, of all people, has told the story of how she was once given testosterone supplements, and how shocked she was at the strength of her resulting sexual desire.
Arousal and desire
A man is turned on by almost anything that appeals to his particular sense of sexual excitement. There's no way of knowing what sets his desires on one pathway rather than another, but we do know that they are activated mostly by visual stimuli.
Of course, touch and taste and even sound may also play a part, but men are primarily aroused by what they see. You can see how true this is by comparing the list of men and women's top turn-ons (taken from Why Men Don't Listen and Women Can't Read Maps by Allan and Barbara Pease):
Erection, orgasm and ejaculation
What happens in a man's body when he begins to get aroused, then erect, then eager for sexual fulfillment, i.e. orgasm and ejaculation? The answer is that the whole journey from stimulation to ejaculation is broken into four phases: excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution.
Sexual excitement is signaled by muscular tension, flushing of the skin, erection of the nipples, the obvious erection off the penis and perhaps the seepage of some pre-ejaculatory fluid, as well as some other less obvious signs: for example, the testicles swell due to increased blood flow.
An erection is produced when the brain sends a message down the nerve cells to the penis which stimulates the release of nitric oxide, a chemical that dilates the vessels that supply blood to the penis.
As a result, the central chambers of spongy tissue in the penis (the corpora cavernosa) fill with blood, which in turn constricts the veins that allow blood to leave the penis.
The result is that inflow of blood is greater than the outflow, and the penis becomes erect. This phase may last for minutes or hours, depending on what happens next.
Of course, if sexual stimulation continues but there is no ejaculation, then a man's erection may remain hard for some time: the length of time generally being inversely proportional to the man's age.
(Which means young men have erections more often and for longer than older men.) This is the plateau phase of arousal.
Eventually, however, without further penile stimulation, there will be a point at which a guy's erection will gradually subside, and the extra blood flow will gradually return to normal, though this may take a while and the resulting sexual congestion may feel uncomfortable: this is the famous "blue balls" syndrome!
The excitement phase of sexual arousal involves the production of natural endorphins which are the body's own natural pleasure-producing drugs.
In addition it can also be a great feeling to have a bulging erection: but generally most men aroused for more or less time in this way have a strong sense of urgency about moving to the third phase of arousal: orgasm and ejaculation.
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Most men, most of the time, think of orgasm and ejaculation as being the same thing.
But in fact they are two separate processes. We know this because men who have had all the nerves in their spinal cord severed in an accident or during war can still have orgasms, though they do not ejaculate.
And it is perfectly possible for a man to ejaculate without an erection or an orgasm. It is the orgasm which adds the whole body feelings to the experience of sex: the ejaculation which follows closely on its heels is simply a series of muscular contractions in the muscles of the pelvic region, though admittedly they feel pretty good!
To put this another way, orgasm is a nervous system response (mostly in the brain) to sexual arousal, while ejaculation is a reflex response that often follows the orgasmic experience.
However, it doesn't have to be like that - it is possible for any man to learn to separate his orgasm and his ejaculation, and then to become orgasmic without ejaculation.
For the purpose of this page, at least, let's assume that you're having sex in the usual way - you are thrusting away in her vagina and your increasing sense of sexual arousal is leading you rapidly to the point at which you know you are going to come, in other words, you are going to have an orgasm accompanied by an ejaculation.
An ejaculatory orgasm cannot be stopped once it has started, for it is an involuntary process of muscular contraction which is designed to pump semen into your partner. But how quickly it happens once sex is underway depends on how much stimulation you get through your penis.
Harder, faster, deeper thrusts will produce an orgasm and ejaculation much more quickly than shallow, slow, gentle ones (unless you happen to be so aroused that you come quickly and are experiencing premature ejaculation in which case it doesn't make much difference how hard you thrust!
Sometimes it needs only the slightest stimulation to the penis to cause a guy to explode long before he wishes to do so).
As you get nearer to the great climax - the depositing of your semen in your partner's vagina, and the possible fertilization of her egg - your body prepares itself for the powerful ejaculation in various ways.
Your blood pressure rises, your heart rate soars, and the muscles of your body become much more tense.
Just before you come, semen moves from the seminal vesicles of the testicles into the bulb at the base of your penis, and this emission produces that oh-so-familiar feeling of impending and unavoidable ejaculation.
This is the moment at which there is no turning back: you are going to ejaculate, and you know it, whatever happens next.
It is a wonderful moment, hovering on the brink of shooting your load, knowing it's going to happen, and knowing it's beyond your control!
Then, when the stimulation of your thrusting - or your masturbation, of course - reaches the critical level, the powerful muscles of the pelvis and the base of the penis contract fiercely, closing off the bladder so that no urine escapes, drawing the testicles closely up to your body, and shooting your semen down your urethra and out of your penis.
These contractions occur in the muscles at the base of the penis, the muscles of the penis shaft, around the anal sphincter, the pubococcygeus muscle and the muscles of the rectum.
They contract about eight times, maybe slightly more or less, at eight-tenths of a second intervals, and as they do so your semen is expelled.
The power and distance of your ejaculatory jets of semen - and the pleasurable sensations you receive from your orgasm - will depend entirely on the health and strength of these muscles.
If you want to produce an impressive shower, the so-called Kegel exercises designed to enhance a woman's urinary control are also good for men: they produce a strong pubococcygeus muscle which can shoot semen an impressively long distance from the tip of your penis.
(If you're interested, look up Kegel exercises on the internet!)
Ejaculation - and afterwards!
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Semen is a mixture of sperm, nutrients secreted by the seminal vesicles and prostate, minerals such as zinc, which keep the sperm swimming as they go up the vagina, and hormones which make the female reproductive tract much more receptive to sperm.
In each ejaculation there are about 100 million sperm, though this number varies according to how long it is since you last ejaculated, and, interestingly, how long it is since you last saw your partner.
The longer the time, the more sperm you ejaculate (regardless of when you last came), a fact which scientists have interpreted as meaning that the longer the gap, the greater number of sperm required to potentially compete the sperm of with any other male who might have sneaked in there while you were away.
Men produce about a level teaspoon of seminal fluid on average, though the quantity can be much greater after a few days' abstinence, or indeed after a prolonged session of foreplay. More places you can go enjoying sexual pleasuring or orgasm and sexual responsiveness and also training and communication in sexual pleasure for a great sex life.
Many men seem to be concerned about how much they ejaculate and how far they can shoot. The average distance is about twelve inches (30 cm). Here are the percentages of men who ejaculate various distances:
Less than an
inch or a dribble from the penis: 4.9%
Another common question is "How often do people have sex or masturbate?" If you're worried you might be doing it less often than your friends or relatives, console yourself with the fact that sex happens a lot less often than you might think.
And of course the frequency of sex is very different in a new relationship than an old one - there's something there about the male need for variety. Here are the facts:
The frequency of ejaculation/intercourse among:
There's much more on all of this type of stuff on the internet. Try for example, The Penis Website.
A great book with lots of information on sexuality and sex drive is Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, one of John Gray's famous series on how men and women relate to each other.
Every man who has ever failed to give his partner an orgasm needs this report. It explains exactly how and why the female orgasm is such a mystery - and then shows you exactly how you can give your female partner unlimited orgasms whenever she wants them.