Men are obviously fixated on performance. Performance in athletics, the job, and of course in the bedroom. Sexual performance can be rewarding but can also be a source of pressure and discontentment and of course women play a part here too. In this three-part blog we will discuss sexual performance by looking at what “normal” performance is. We’ll investigate what happens physiologically when we are aroused, then see what happens when that performance diminishes. Lastly how do we improve our sex lives? Read on for tips on making her squeal! but also how to manage our collective expectations. Let’s first look into what happens as we are aroused and how that translates into an erection. I’ve chosen three major players and contributors to physiological male sexual response. The earliest is Havelock Ellis in the early 20th century. He proposed a two-stage model of build up and release. We all can relate to that right? In the 50s and 60s Masters and Johnson, (Currently being depicted in the ShowTime series, “Maters of Sex”), Wrote books about a 4-stage model: Excitement, Plateau, Orgasm and Arousal. Then came Helen Singer Kaplan in 77, right in time for the sexual revolution and added a component of desire. Other research has been done to expose the psychological aspects of arousal and response but for now lets focus on the physicality of getting turned on and getting an erection.
Mens’ bodies really kick into gear when that someone turns us on! As we are aroused, the brain activates the central and autonomic nervous system and metabolic rates increase. Hormonal outputs include testosterone, serotonin and dopamine, all regulated perfectly. Ever wonder why when interrupted during sexual arousal you are slow to respond and feel out of it? …. Simply put, you are high on the bodies’ own internal drugs!!
Next the neuro-pathways play a part by increasing blood flow to the main cavities of the penis called the corpora cavernosa and corpus spongiosum. The release of nitric oxide contributes to the vasodilation of this tissue by relaxing smooth muscles to let the blood in. To prevent venous leakage the I and B muscles, (you really want it? Ok … Ischioavernisus and Bulbospongiosus- whew! ) contract keeping the blood in the penis for intercourse. Yikes there is a lot going on in men when we are aroused and even more going to obtain and maintain an erection. And this is obviously just scratching the surface.