Arousal or reaching an aroused state is vital for healthy, pleasurable sex. But how much do we really know about it?
While the word “arousal” can be defined several ways, we’re here to give you the inside scoop on female arousal… and how to make the most out of yours (or your partner’s). In short, let’s get turned ON.
What is arousal?
Ever felt “turned on,” “horny,” or “hot & bothered” ? Congrats – YOU’RE AROUSED!
Arousal is your body’s natural reaction to sexual stimuli in the form of physical and emotional reactions. While the biological male and female body have some key differences in getting aroused, it all works about the same: our bodies are prepping for sex.
Sexual libido vs sexual arousal
Before we jump into the juicy science of arousal, it’s important to note that libido and arousal are not the same. While they often go hand-in-hand, one is a result of desire and another a result of being turned on.
Sexual libido refers to the frequency and urge you have towards sex, while arousal measures the response you have towards something sexually stimulating. To make things more complex, these two can happen independently without the other. For example, our bodies can get aroused without necessarily being in the mood (morning wood, hello).
How long does it take for a vulva owner to get aroused?
Arousal is unique to the sexes in terms of time. The biological female body takes longer to become fully aroused as compared to a biological male body. While studies vary, the Boston Clinical Trials found that, on average, it takes vulva owners approximately 20 minutes of sustained sexual arousal to achieve full arousal.
Anatomy of Female Arousal
Because arousal is primarily physical, here are a few things we vulva owners experience when aroused …
The Brain: First things first! Arousal is very hard to achieve without the mind leading the way. Our brain is called the most powerful sex organ for good reason, as getting turned on starts before the physical. Daydreaming about someone, fantasizing, sexy words — the list goes on.
Swelling of Clitoris and Vulva: When vulva owners get turned on, their blood vessels dilate and the erectile tissues of the clitoris and vulva engorge and swell. It’s typical and normal for the vulva’s tissues to get pinker, redder, or darker during this part of arousal.
Lubrication: Better known as “getting wet,” a typical response for vulva owners is self-lubricating. Our vagina’s do this on their own to prepare for penetrative intercourse; that helps us avoid injuries like burns or tears.
Nipples on Fleek: Ever been turned on and you feel your nipples go rock solid? That’s arousal, babe! With the blood flow of arousal, nipples perk up and, for some, become ultra sensitive.
Flushing of Chest & Skin: With so much blood flowing, it’s normal for vulva owners to “blush” on the face, chest and rest of body as arousal builds (especially after orgasm). The moments leading up to orgasm are a series of muscle contractions and spasms, not to mention the movements when you’re playing. You may get a little flushed, and that’s a good thing!
What exactly happens when your brain is feverishly turned on, but your body doesn’t react? Known as Arousal Non-Concordance, this is the mismatch between arousal and the bodily functions that typically follow it. In vulva owners, this can often be seen with lubrication or wetness.
Common causes of Arousal Non-Concordance are everyday stress, diet, or medications that affect our ability to self-lubricate or relax. We know, it can be annoying to want to pounce in bed yet hard to get wet. That’s why we have lube and other tools to give us the extra oomph and support we need, right?.
Foreplay & Erogenous Zones
We’ve covered the technical stuff, so let’s get to the fun stuff!
If you’ve been skipping foreplay and going straight into penetration, perhaps not feeling quite as satisfied as you hoped, we recommend you take a big step back. If you’re like most vulva owners and it takes you about 20 minutes to get fully aroused, why skip the build-up that’s probably going to deliver the most enjoyment? Calling in erogenous zones, stat!
Erogenous zones are those parts of the human body that have heightened sensitivity and can contribute to your sexual arousal. While it’s typical to think about just the genitals when it comes to arousal, we suggest taking a more full body approach. In Erogenous Zones 101, explore all the surprising and hot areas of the body to get you and your partner aroused.
Are You Aroused, Babe?
Whether you’ve been looking to learn more about your own arousal or your partner’s, we’re happy you’re here. It all starts with understanding our anatomy, and the typical responses of female arousal when we’re ready to get down. Next time you’re turned on, pay attention to your body’s cues.