Menu Close

Sexual response cycle

An individual’s sexual response is a true psychophysiological experience. Arousal is triggered by both psychological (e.g., fantasy and emotion) and physical (e.g., his gorgeous smile and big hands) stimuli; levels of tension are experiences both physiologically (e.g., heart rate increases) and emotionally (e.g., pleasant feelings); and with orgasm, there is normally a subjective perception of a peak of physical reaction (e.g., tense muscles) and release (e.g., cumming). Your psychosexual development, attitude toward sex and sexuality, and attitude towards your partner are directly linked to your sexual response. The male sexual response cycle consists of four phases:

Phase 1: Desire
Phase 2: Excitement
Phase 3: Orgasm
Phase 4: Resolution

In phase 1 (desire), a guy experiences some motivation or drive to experience sexual activity. If sexual activity is initiated, then the next three phases are likely to occur. What follows is a descriptive table of the next three phases as described by Virginia Sadock, M.D. (sourced from Kaplan & Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry, 2003):

A range of sexual difficulties and dysfunctions are associated with each of the different phases of the sexual response cycle:

DESIRE: Inhibited Sexual Desire (HSD);

EXCITEMENT: Erectile Dysfunction (ED);

ORGASM: Premature Ejaculation (PE) and Delayed Ejaculation (DE).

RESOLUTION: Postcoital Dysphoria (PD); Postcoital Headache (PH).