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Why do women respond to a wide range of sexual stimuli?

Emily Nagoski
Emily Nagoski on behalf of Good In Bed
Psychology
Women respond to a wide range of stimuli for both medical and speculative reasons.

  • Protection. The lubrication of the vagina functions to minimize friction associated with penetration. Reducing friction reduces tearing of the vaginal walls, which in turn reduces risk of infection.
  • So why would a woman respond genitally to, like, pictures of monkeys having sex? Because her body is preparing itself for penetration, to prevent infection. Her body is protecting itself. The reason why (I think) women respond genitally to more or less anything: generic physical preparation for potential sex, in order to reduce harmful consequences associated with penetration. This is what Meredith Chivers suggested at a conference a few years ago, and it sounded good to me.
  • Reward. This one is highly speculative, even though it will sound perfectly sensible. It’s sensible because it’s based on a common assumption, and as far as I’ve been able to figure it’s an untestable assumption. The hypothesis here is that pleasure rewards a woman for doing things that turn her on, which will in turn potentially result in selecting a good genetic mate, building a supportive social network, etc.

Pleasure, not orgasm per se. The available science suggests that high intensity arousal is plenty to change a woman’s biochemistry in the appropriate ways; orgasm is not the target.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.