The physiological response is similar for men and women. It’s mainly different sexual organs and different hormones. In terms of orgasm there are four main steps: arousal, plateau, climax and resolution.
"Most women reach climax through clitoral stimulation. Women can have multiple orgasms whereas men are often sated after one orgasm."
Arousal is just that. Something prompts sexual interest and leads to pleasurable stimulation. Blood rushes to the genitals. In a man that usually results in an erection. For a woman this usually results in vaginal engorgement and lubrication.
Plateau is the body preparing for orgasm. Muscle tension increases, there are lots of involuntary body movements and the heart rate dramatically rises.
Climax: there are a series of muscle contractions which result in climax. Interestingly, not all men ejaculate when they orgasm, and not all men who ejaculate orgasm. Most women reach climax through clitoral stimulation. Women can have multiple orgasms whereas men are often sated after one orgasm.
In resolution, the body relaxes, and everything returns to normal. A man’s erection goes down.
After orgasm, the bonding hormone oxytocin is released in men and women. It’s said that testosterone can block oxytocin, which may explain why women, who have lower levels of testosterone, are more inclined to want to cuddle than men after sex. What’s important to remember is that women aren’t being needy and men aren’t being wilfully evasive – these are natural, hormonal responses.
Krystal Woodbridge is a psychosexual therapist, relationship counsellor and founder of Woodbridge Therapy.