Masters and Johnson describe the female response cycle in 4 stages.

Stage 1 – Excitation or Arousal:

This stage begins 20-30 seconds after erotic stimulation. The woman physically experiences increased vaginal lubrication along with expansion of the vagina. Breathing, heart rate and blood pressure increase and the pupils start to dilate.

Stage 2 – Plateau phase:

Vaginal lips become engorged with blood & the vaginal orifice grows. The clitoris fills with blood and becomes exposed. The muscles of the thighs, buttocks and hands become tightened. The pulse, blood pressure and breathing are all increased and the skin begins to flush.

Stage 3 – Orgasm:

This is the climax stage, at which time all tension is suddenly released in a series of involuntary, pleasurable muscular contraction in the vagina, uterus and rectum. This lasts several seconds and can also cause muscles to contracts in arms, stomach, legs and back.

Stage 4 – Resolution:

This is the return to the rest state which can take 5 – 60 minutes. The vagina and clitoris return to their normal positions and the muscles relax. Some women respond to more stimulation in this phase which leads to multiple orgasms.

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