Sexual Arousal - Erotic Stimuli

Erotic Stimuli

Depending on the situation, a person can be sexually aroused by a variety of factors, both physical and mental. A person may be sexually aroused by another person or by particular aspects of that person, or by a non-human object. The welcome physical stimulation of an erogenous zone or acts of foreplay can result in arousal, especially if it is accompanied with the anticipation of imminent sexual activity. Sexual arousal may be assisted by a romantic setting, music or other soothing situation. The potential stimuli for sexual arousal vary from person to person, and from one time to another, as does the level of arousal.

Stimuli can be classified according to the sense involved: somatosensory (touch), visual, and olfactory (scent). Auditory stimuli are also possible, though they are generally considered secondary in role to the other three. Erotic stimuli which can result in sexual arousal can include conversation, reading, films or images or a smell or setting, any of which can generate erotic thoughts and memories in a person. Given the right context, these may lead to the person desiring physical contact, including kissing, cuddling, and petting of an erogenous zone. This may in turn make the person desire direct sexual stimulation of those parts of their body which would normally be out of bounds, such as breasts, nipples, buttocks and/or genitals, and to sexual activity.

Erotic stimuli may originate from a source unrelated to the object of subsequent sexual interest. For example, many people may find nudity, erotica or pornography sexually arousing, which may generate a general sexual interest which is satisfied with sexual activity. When sexual arousal is achieved by or dependent on the use of objects, it is referred to as sexual fetishism, or in some instances a paraphilia.

There is a common belief that women need more time to achieve arousal. However, recent scientific research has shown that there is no considerable difference for the time men and women require to become fully aroused. Scientists from McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada used the method of thermal imaging to record baseline temperature change in genital area to define the time necessary for sexual arousal. Researchers studied the time required for an individual to reach the peak of sexual arousal while watching sexually explicit movies or pictures and came to the conclusion that on average women and men took almost the same time for sexual arousal — around 10 minutes. The time needed for foreplay is very individualistic and varies from one time to the next depending on many circumstances.

Unlike many other animals, humans do not have a mating season, and both sexes are potentially capable of sexual arousal throughout the year.

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