He's got that look in his eye, and you can tell he's about to make his move — but you're anything but in the mood. Though your initial reaction may be "Not tonight, honey," you may, in fact, want to go with the flow. This is because, much to your surprise, you might find you actually do want to have sex — once things start to heat up, that is. This study by Canadian Researcher Dr. Rosemary Basson might explain the science behind your change of heart.
Dr. Basson has done some fascinating work on what gets a woman's libido going. It seems that when it comes to sex, sexual arousal may actually occur before sexual desire. While that may not sound earth-shattering, this research is important both theoretically and practically. Theoretically, Basson's findings run contrary to the Masters and Johnson take on female sexual response, which is as close as you can get to the Bible in the world of sexual studies. On a practical level, it encourages women to understand that if they hang in there the passionate response will follow.
Basson’s research was inspired by a 1999 survey conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago. In this study, 15 percent of men admitted to having trouble with their libidos, but always because of clearly defined reasons, such as stress, alcohol, or heart disease. However, 30 percent of women shared that they lacked libido, and for no apparent reason at all. Now, if women, like men, followed the desire=arousal=sex way of thinking, that means a whopping 1/3 of women were suffering from a low libido. This study led Dr. Basson to suspect that there might be something off about the female sexual response model by Masters and Johnson that medical professionals had been referring to since 1966.
In the Masters and Johnson model, both male and female sexuality is defined as a linear process that occurs in four stages: Excitement (arousal), Plateau (buildup), Orgasm (climax), and Resolution (afterglow). However, based on of the findings of the survey at the University of Chicago, Dr. Basson conducted interviews with hundreds of women to get to the bottom of what really gets their libidos going. The information gathered was so adverse to the Masters and Johnson chart that a new model was created to represent female sexual response! Unlike men, desire is not the facilitator for women. Desire is, instead, the result.
Rather than being linear, Dr. Basson’s model explains women’s sexual response in a cyclical fashion. While raw attraction may drive physical intimacy for women when it comes to new partners, many women in long-term relationships don’t experience a primal desire for sex, and therefore, rarely initiate it. Instead, seeking out or consenting to sex is often a means of fulfilling a deeper need, such as emotional closeness.
In a nutshell, the differences between the male and female sexual responses are:
Men desire sex and then become aroused, while women choose to become aroused, and then desire sex.
While orgasm is part and parcel of the experience for men, that may not always be the case for women. Many women have satisfying, fulfilling intercourse without ever achieving climax, while others achieve it easily. It varies from woman to woman. For those who can’t achieve orgasm during intercourse, but want to, there are always outside options for stimulation!
For men, sexual response is linear, as stated in the Masters and Johnson model- Excitement, Plateau, Orgasm, Resolution. But for women, sexual response is fluid and cyclical: Arousal leads to desire. Desire leads to sex, which ultimately results in deep satisfaction and a sense of well being, regardless of whether orgasm is achieved or not. Or a woman can have multiple orgasms before basking in the afterglow, while men need varying amounts of downtime between orgasms.
Regardless of what the differences are, an active sex life with your partner maintains emotional closeness and satisfaction for both parties. Physical intimacy is crucial in maintaining a long-lasting and fulfilling bond. So, next time your sweetie has that look in his eye and you’re thinking about turning him down, consider giving it a go! Instead of waiting for sexual desire to magically happen, take control and make it happen. You may find yourself enjoying the results more than you expected!