sexual intercourse

Last reviewed 01/2018

A four-stage response to sexual stimulation has been described (Masters and Johnson). These stages are:

  • excitement
  • plateau
  • orgasm
  • resolution

The length of each stage and progression from one to another is dependent on the efficacy of stimulation, both physically and mentally.

Females and males have different potential for sexual function. Females are potentially multiorgasmic, ie given adequate stimulation, females can return repeatedly from the early resolution phase to orgasm. This is not the case for males where there is a period where he is refractory to stimulation after orgasm. This refractory period is variable and, in general, increases with age. The refractory period in a male may last minutes or hours.


  • Master W. H. and Johnson V. E. (1966) Human Sexual Response. Boston. Little Brown.