Sexuality-MW: The Body
The Medicine Wheel: Sexuality and Intimacy's
Impact on the Body

Medicine WheelSpritualPhysicalEmotionalMental
This section lists some of the ways in which changes to our bodies can cause changes in our sexuality.

What are the female sex organs and sexually responsive body areas for women? (Information for men will be coming soon)

  • Women's sexual organs are both inside and outside the body.
      The organs outside the body include:
    • The outer lips of the vagina, the labia majora [lay-bee-ah maa-jor-ah].
    • When parted, these show the inner lips, the labia minora [lay-bee-ah mih-nor-ah].
    • These lips join at the top to cover the clitoris [klit-er-iss]. The clitoris is the size of a pea and is usually sensitive to touch.
    • Just below the clitoris is the opening for urine, the urethra [you-ree-thra].
    • Below that is the opening to the vagina.
    • Below that is the opening for stool, the anus [a-nus].
    • The diamond shaped area of skin that includes the vagina and anus is called the perineum [pear-ih-knee-um].
    • Most of a woman's sex organs are inside the body.

      External female sex organs:

      The organs inside the body include:

    • the uterus (womb)
    • the cervix [sir-vicks] (neck of the womb)
    • the ovaries [oh-vah-rees]
    • the fallopian [fah-low-pee-an] tubes
    • the pelvis is the name given to the lower part of your abdomen

      Internal female sex organs:

    What are the other sexual areas on the body?
    • the breasts and nipples
    • sensitive areas that respond to touch include:
      • the back of the neck
      • behind the knees,
      • the buttocks
      • the inner thighs
    • These areas may be different for each person
    • These areas are called the erogenous [ee-rah-gin-us] zones.

    What is sexual arousal?
    • Sexual desire is used to describe an interest in sex. It is also known as libido [lih-bee-dough].
    • Sexual desire can change with illness, pregnancy, during your monthly cycle or after the change of life (menopause).
    • How you are feeling physically and emotionally also can affect your desire for sex.

    What are the stages of sexual arousal?
    • Your sexual response is made up of four stages or phases;
    • Stage 1: Excitement or arousal
      • This is the beginning of sexual feelings or feeling "turned on" and ready for sex.
      • Physically:
      • your breathing and heart rate increase
      • your vagina becomes damp
      • you may begin to sweat or your body may feel warmer
      • These feelings can happen for many reasons such as being kissed, being touched or touching your partner or by a sexual fantasy.
      • Arousal may, or may not, lead to orgasm.
    • Stage 2: Plateau
      • The body stays aroused
      • The body is very sensitive to touch
    • Stage 3: Orgasm
      • This is also known as the sexual climax or "coming"
      • Your body feels intense sensations that are like waves or contractions throughout the body
      • Orgasm includes ejaculation [ee-jack-u-lay-shun] of sperm for men
    • Stage 4: Resolution
      • The body returns to its normal state

    What can cause sexual desire and arousal to be less than usual?
    • Sexual arousal can be less than usual if you are
      • very tired (fatigued)
      • feeling stressed
      • having pain
      • feeling anxious or depressed
      • using alcohol or drug excessively
      • having relationship problems
      • taking medicines for nausea, depression, heart problems, high blood pressure
      • feeling short of breath
      • feeling unhappy about your body

    How can I increase my interest in sexual activities?
    • Find things that usually lead to sexual desire and increase how often you do them
    • Be as physically active as possible
    • Do things that promote intimacy such as being close, cuddling, or having a romantic dinner
    • Think about using sexual fantasies or materials
    • Practice looking at your body. If you feel comfortable, touch your body as well (learn what feels good; what does not)

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