If you suffer with sexual dysfunction, you’re not alone. An estimated 43% of women in the United States experience sexual dysfunction.

One thing that may help you get to the bottom of what’s causing your sexual dysfunction is an understanding of the sexual response cycle. Your body responds both physically and emotionally throughout sexual activity. By understanding what happens during each phase of the sexual response cycle, you may be able to improve your own experience and enhance your intimacy.

In this blog, Dr. John Macey discusses the four phases of the sexual response cycle and what can contribute to sexual dysfunctions

The four phases of the sexual response cycle

The sexual response cycle is made up of four distinct phases that are experienced by both men and women. The phases are as follows:

Libido (sexual desire)

The desire phase can last for a few minutes or several hours. During this time, your body responds physically as your heart rate speeds up, your breathing quickens, and your muscles tense.

Your body also increases the flow of blood to your nipples, causing them to harden. Increased blood flow also occurs in your genitals, causing swelling in your labia minora and clitoris. Your vaginal walls also swell, and your body produces more lubrication in preparation for sexual activity.


The arousal phase increases the intensity of the physical changes experienced in the libido phase. Your genitals become more sensitive, and your blood pressure continues to rise.


During orgasm, the shortest phase of the sexual response cycle, your muscles begin to contract involuntarily, and you experience a forceful and sudden release of sexual tension. Your skin flushes and your breathing becomes rapid.


Throughout the resolution phase, your body begins to slow down and return to its normal function. Both men and women tend to feel a sense of well-being, and even fatigue, as their heart rate and breathing slows down.

Often, women are able to resume the orgasm phase with stimulation and can experience multiple orgasms during one encounter. Men generally need a period of recovery before they can achieve an orgasm again.

The time you spend in each phase of the cycle depends on a variety of factors and varies from person to person. It’s also possible to go through these phases in a different order, especially if you’re a woman. You might also miss one or more of these phases during sexual activity.

Contributing factors to sexual dysfunction

While everyone moves through the sexual response cycle differently, it’s also possible that underlying issues can interfere with your natural sexual response.

Analyzing the sexual response cycle is a key part in how Dr. Macey evaluates and treats sexual dysfunction. He’ll evaluate your experiences to see what could be interfering in the cycle. Possible causes of sexual dysfunction that can disrupt the sexual response cycle include:

  • Menopause
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Emotional or sexual abuse
  • Psychological issues, such as stress, anxiety, or depression

Certain medications can also affect your libido and the other phases of the sexual response cycle.

There’s hope for reviving your sex life

It can be embarrassing to talk about sexual dysfunction, but Dr. Macey encourages all women to be open about their concerns. By discussing your concerns, Dr. Macey can diagnose and treat any issues related to your sexual dysfunction so you can enjoy a satisfying sex life once again.

He offers a variety of treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy and vaginal rejuvenation, to help restore your self-confidence and your sexual health.

To learn more about treating issues involving sexual dysfunction, book an appointment online or over the phone with the practice of Dr. John Macey today.

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