What you need to know about sexual arousal in men and women

Sexual arousal in men and women

Have you ever wondered about the many wonderful and weird things that turn people on? Brushing hands, a particular scent, muscular shoulders, spicy food, facial hair, the smell of cut grass, crooked teeth; the list really is endless. Fetish, kink, quirk – call it what you will – everything is a turn-on for someone. One person’s ‘weird’ is another’s ‘wonderful’.

But what if you struggle to become aroused? Or if you feel sexually excited, yet your body isn’t responding as you’d expect? Getting turned on isn’t as simple as flicking a switch.

While different things do it for different people, sexual arousal generally manifests in the same way for most of us for the same reason. The classic signs of arousal? For men, the blood vessels in their genitals dilate and the penis becomes hard – they get an erection. For women, their vagina becomes moist and blood rushes to their sexual organs in preparation to receive sperm and fertilize an egg. It’s your body’s way of getting ready to procreate.

But it’s not always convenient to feel aroused. For men, an unwanted erection can be embarrassing. For women, the increase in blood flow can cause perspiration and reddening of the cheeks. Whatever your gender, feeling turned on is very distracting. We can’t always control when we feel sexually aroused. Think about something mundane, take a walk, have a cold glass of water – there are ways to assist your body in cooling off, but sometimes it’s just a waiting game.

Why sometimes you are NOT in the mood

Arousal starts in the minds of men and women. Stress, anxiety, and distraction can prevent your brain from reacting as it usually would to sexual stimuli – your mental state might be stopping your turn-ons from registering properly, causing erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness. Make time for sex, practice mindfulness to handle stress, and talk to your partner about anxieties.

Sometimes what used to do it for you doesn’t anymore. If you only ever have jam on toast, you might think you only like jam. Maybe one day there’s no jam, and you try some honey. You might realize that honey is just as good, if not better than jam. Taste and people change, so if you go off the jam, don’t worry – you still like toast – simply look for something else that makes your mouth water. Sexual tastes are similar – the more variety you experience, the more likely you are to find different stimuli

If you’re struggling to feel aroused, you might consider talking to your partner about new things to try: introducing toys, watching an erotic movie, or trying some role play.

But what if you feel sexually aroused and your body isn’t responding the way it should?

F♀️: Women can experience physical problems with arousal, although it’s not talked about much. Pain during sex or vaginal dryness can both occur if your feelings of arousal aren’t manifesting physically. Sometimes these can be caused by hormonal changes, menopause, or other health issues so it’s worth speaking to your GP. The takeaway advice here is to use a good lubricant – even if you’re not having problems. Lubrication makes sex more fun for both men and women, reduces chafing, and can liven things up.

M♂️: However aroused they feel, many men will struggle to get or maintain an erection at some point. Occasional erectile dysfunction (ED) affects 1 in 10 men during their lifetime – stress, alcohol, or tiredness can all be the causes. But if ED is a persistent problem and you’ve ruled out other health issues, ED treatment can give you a new lease on (sex) life.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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