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Human sexual activity
Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behavior is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts, ranging from activities done alone (e.g., masturbation) to acts with another person (e.g., sexual intercourse, non-penetrative sex, oral sex, etc.) in varying patterns of frequency, for a wide variety of reasons. Sexual activity normally results in sexual arousal and physiological changes in the aroused person, some of which are pronounced while others are more subtle. Sexual activity may also include conduct and activities which are intended to arouse the sexual interest of another or enhance the sex life of another, such as strategies to find or attract partners (courtship and display behavior), or personal interactions between individuals (for instance, foreplay or BDSM). Sexual activity may follow sexual arousal.
Human sexual activity has sociological, cognitive, emotional, behavioral and biological aspects; these include personal bonding, sharing emotions and the physiology of the reproductive system, sex drive, sexual intercourse and sexual behavior in all its forms.
In some cultures, sexual activity is considered acceptable only within marriage, while premarital and extramarital sex are taboo. Some sexual activities are illegal either universally or in some countries or subnational jurisdictions, while some are considered contrary to the norms of certain societies or cultures. Two examples that are criminal offenses in most jurisdictions are sexual assault and sexual activity with a person below the local age of consent.
- "Human sexuality and gender relations are closely interrelated and together affect the ability of men and women to achieve and maintain sexual health and manage their reproductive lives. Equal relationships between men and women in matters of sexual relations and reproduction, including full respect for the physical integrity of the human body, require mutual respect and willingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of sexual behaviour. Responsible sexual behaviour, sensitivity and equity in gender relations, particularly when instilled during the formative years, enhance and promote respectful and harmonious partnerships between men and women."
- During the excitement phase, muscle tension and blood flow increase in and around the sexual organs, heart and respiration increase and blood pressure rises. Men and women experience a "sex flush" on the skin of the upper body and face. Typically, a woman's vagina becomes lubricated and her clitoris becomes swollen. A male's penis will become erect.
- During the plateau phase, heart rate and muscle tension increase further. A man's urinary bladder closes to prevent urine from mixing with semen. A woman's clitoris may withdraw slightly and there is more lubrication, outer swelling and muscles tighten and reduction of diameter.
- During the orgasm phase, breathing becomes extremely rapid and the pelvic muscles begin a series of rhythmic contractions. Both men and women experience quick cycles of muscle contraction of lower pelvic muscles and women often experience uterine and vaginal contractions; this experience can be described as intensely pleasurable, but roughly 15% of women never experience orgasm and half report having faked it. A large genetic component is associated with how often women experience orgasm.
- During the resolution phase, muscles relax, blood pressure drops, and the body returns to its resting state. Though generally reported that women do not experience a refractory period and thus can experience an additional orgasm, or multiple orgasms soon after the first, some sources state that both men and women experience a refractory period because women may also experience a period after orgasm in which further sexual stimulation does not produce excitement. This period may last from minutes to days and is typically longer for men than women.
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