Responsiveness varies between individuals

We have no conscious control over our responsiveness. Our ability to enjoy eroticism is an instinctive and subconscious response. Our responsiveness is a factor of our sex and the way our mind works. All men are responsive to some degree. Research indicates that there is a huge range in responsiveness (orgasm frequency) for both sexes that defines normal. Even extreme frequencies can be completely normal for the individuals that have them. Yet orgasm is referred to as if everyone is capable of the same frequency.

Responsiveness is the ability to respond to an erotic trigger (an erotic thought or a visual stimulus). We are each born with an ability to respond to erotic stimuli to varying degrees. If we are responsive (most men but only a few women), our mind responds to specifically erotic stimuli. We do not choose to be responsive or unresponsive. It is just the way we are. Orgasm is a response of the mind and body that we cannot control consciously. Orgasm arises as a subconscious response when the circumstances are appropriate. Once our minds are aroused, we supply the correct stimulation instinctively.

Regardless of the stimulation supplied (a vibrator is not the right kind), orgasm does not occur as if we are just pressing a button. This is because orgasm relies on the brain responding to eroticism in a specific way. Orgasm works like other physiological responses, such as sneezing. It occurs sporadically. There is a stimulus. We cannot know for sure exactly when, or even if, we will sneeze. We cannot make ourselves orgasm on demand. A man may ejaculate spontaneously if he is highly aroused, young or inexperienced. But women never orgasm spontaneously. Female responsiveness is more noticeably sporadic because of the infrequency.

Responsiveness works like a capacitor. Sexual tension accumulates slowly over time. Tension builds in the nervous system (like electrical potential) and is released in a burst. A man needs some time to recover from a sexual release before he can realistically contemplate another orgasm. He knows from experience that orgasm is not as pleasurable until some time has passed since the last one. Only a few boys can orgasm many times in a row with only minutes in between. A younger and more responsive man can be aroused (at least once) with little rest between a first orgasm and a second. Most older men and less responsive men need at least a few hours between orgasms.

A woman needs much longer. A young woman may be able to orgasm twice in a row with only half an hour between. But more typically she waits for 12 hours (early morning or late at night) before trying again. The only reason she has for thinking that orgasm might be possible is the idea appearing in her head. This is quite random and not related to any real-world triggers. Female orgasm relies on subconscious mental and physiological processes.

A man is aware of his arousal because he is acutely aware of having an erect penis, which is highly sensitive to touch. But the clitoral organ is never rigid. It is internal to the body, so women are unaware of any tumescence. A woman’s mental arousal (that leads to orgasm) must always be consciously generated. Even a responsive woman has to focus intensely on surreal erotic fantasies before she becomes aware of her arousal. Men, as they age or when alone, may also have to work at arousal depending on their responsiveness.

Responsiveness refers not only to the frequency with which we orgasm but also to the average time a person needs to reach orgasm. The more responsive a person is, the more frequently they orgasm and the less time they need for orgasm. Men orgasm after an average of 2 minutes of intercourse. Research indicates that women take 4 minutes to masturbate to orgasm. Climax with a lover takes around 10-20 minutes. A woman may be aroused by the implicit turn-on of the stimulation her lover is supplying.

Responsiveness reflects a person’s total orgasm frequency both alone and with a lover. Men are much more responsive than women ever are. Even responsive women only ever orgasm by masturbating alone. Being unresponsive (rarely or never having an orgasm) is completely normal for women. Research indicates that 10% of women have never had an orgasm in their whole lives. Another 20% admit that they rarely orgasm. So a total of 30% of women readily acknowledge that they do not respond erotically.

Responsiveness does not arise because an individual has some special knowledge or techniques. This is not a conscious choice. So a woman who is unresponsive, cannot learn to masturbate. Responsiveness is a characteristic of the brain we are born with. A responsive person discovers orgasm because the sensations of tumescence (increased blood-flow) motivate them to stimulate their genitals. Once the clitoris is tumescent, a responsive woman can orgasm by focusing on specific aspects of eroticism.

We are motivated to satisfy a need, for example hunger, only when we are conscious of it. Once we have reached the climax of our fantasy, we do not want to start all over again. A person feels sated, not just physically, but also mentally. We need some time to pass so that we can approach a sexual opportunity with a fresh mind. Even for men there is a range in sexual interest. Research reveals that when a man leaves his wife for a younger woman, the novelty causes him to be more sexually initially. Over time his responsiveness (and sex drive) returns to what it was before (normal level).

Like many other physiologic functions, erotic response depends upon a remarkably fool proof mechanism. When one reaches the limit of physiologic endurance he no longer responds erotically. He is no longer capable of erection and finds little incentive to force the situation. (Alfred Kinsey)

Excerpt from Learn About Sexuality (ISBN 978-0956-894748)