Sex Cycles – how do they affect the way we women want sex? Why is it that sometimes we women really want it, and other times we couldn’t care less about it? The answer is complex, and depends on the individual, but emerging research suggests that the rise and fall of female libido are tied to the menstrual cycle.
The particulars of this rise and fall can be laid out in stages. Doula and female wellness specialist Natasha Weiss advises women that their arousal stages, or “sex cycles,” can be predictors of when they are most open to enjoying intimacy.
Let’s take a look at how our sex cycles are affected by the menstrual cycle:
This marks the first phase of the menstrual cycle, and we tend to be generally aroused and receptive to our partners during menstruation itself. This is particularly the case during the end of menstruation, as estrogen rises and higher blood flow gives the vulva a feeling of fullness and sensitivity.
Despite common misconceptions about “period sex,” this can be some of the most intense sex you can enjoy. Weiss notes that period sex is as safe and healthy as any other, contrary to some of the social taboos that exist surrounding this activity.
With menstruation ending, the follicular phase takes over, which actually starts with menstruation itself. At this time, most of the action is in the ovaries; they carry a large number of eggs within follicles, of which normally only one at a time will reach maturity.
As both estrogen and testosterone rise, your libido will peak in biological anticipation of potential reproduction. On average, the follicular phase lasts about 13 or 14 days. Of the three phases, this phase varies the most in length.
At around Day 14, ovulation begins. As the endometrium starts to become thicker and your body further changes to accommodate a possible embryo, estrogen levels remain high, but progesterone levels drop. This means your libido continues to remain high around this phase.
The ovulatory phase usually lasts 16 to 32 hours. It ends when the egg is released, about 10 to 12 hours after the surge in the level of luteinizing hormone. The egg can be fertilized for only up to about 12 hours after its release.
Around the time of ovulation, some women feel a dull pain on one side of the lower abdomen which lasts from a few minutes to a few hours. However, a slump may be experienced later on.
If fertilization has not taken place and your body prepares to menstruate, you may feel the invariable PMS, in tandem with a drop in hormonal levels. Although it might not be apparent, this is also a time when certain types of cuddling, foreplay, and sex can make PMS much more comfortable.
More specifically, intimacy generates oxytocin, a chemical that acts as a pain and stress reliever. The increase in estrogen and progesterone levels causes milk ducts in the breasts to widen (dilate). As a result, the breasts may swell and become tender.
In conclusion, sex cycles are not a guaranteed map to pleasure during the month. However, the scientific consensus seems to be that sex cycles track menstrual ones, and being aware of them can lead to greater sexual satisfaction and general happiness throughout the entire month.
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