Sexual intercourse

Sexual intercourse, in its biological sense, is the act in which the male reproductive organ (in humans and other higher animals) enters the female reproductive tract, called copulation or coitus in other reference. The two entities may be of opposite sexes, or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails.

Traditionally, intercourse has been viewed as the natural endpoint of all sexual contact between a man and a woman, and is commonly confined to this definition today. The meaning of the term, however, has been broadened in recent years, and now labels at least three different sex acts. These three types of intercourse are: vaginal intercourse, involving vaginal penetration by the penis; oral intercourse, involving oral caress of the sex organs (male or female); and anal intercourse, involving insertion of the male's penis into his partner's anus.

Sex acts that involve digital (use of fingers or hands) intercourse or mutual masturbation are more often referred to as outercourse (with oral sex at times listed as an aspect),

Anorgasmia is the lack of orgasm during otherwise pleasurable stimulation. It is much more common in women than men. Masturbation is a well supported method for a woman to explore her body and discover what feels good for her. The absence of a partner can remove the sense of performance anxiety and allow the woman to relax and enjoy. Good communication and patience are essential in helping an anorgasmic woman achieve orgasm. Whether a woman considers anorgasmia a problem or not is highly individual, though many women find it very frustrating.

Some males suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence, at least occasionally. For those whose impotence is caused by medical conditions, prescription drugs such as Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are available. However, doctors caution against the unnecessary use of these drugs because they are accompanied by serious risks such as increased chance of heart attack. Moreover, using a drug to counteract the symptom-impotence-can mask the underlying problem causing the impotence and does not resolve it. A serious medical condition might be aggravated if left untreated.

A more common sexual disorder in males is premature ejaculation (PE). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is examining the drug dapoxetine to treat premature ejaculation. In clinical trials, those with PE who took dapoxetine experienced intercourse three to four times longer before orgasm than without the drug.

The American Urological Association (AUA) estimates that premature ejaculation could affect 27 to 34 percent of men in the United States. The AUA also estimates that 10 to 12 percent of men in the United States are affected by erectile dysfunction.

Vaginismus is involuntary tensing of the pelvic floor musculature, making coitus distressing, painful, and sometimes impossible.

Dyspareunia is a medical term signifying painful or uncomfortable intercourse, but does not specify the cause.

Mobility impairment: According to the Canadian Paraplegic Association, in 2007, there were thirty six thousand Canadians living with spinal cord injuries. In the US there are 11 thousands spinal cord injuries every year. Sexual intercourse for these mobility impaired individuals may be a psychologically daunting experience which plays an effect on self-concept as a sexual being. For example Brian Chovez, a paraplegic with some mobility loss from the waist down, has indicated that he went "from having a very active sex life before the accident, to not really having one at all... it was tremendously hard psychologically." However, "sex is not impossible" according to Alan Tholkes, a quadriplegic since 1976. Tholkes said "I had sensations in all the critical areas, but my motor function was lacking. Certain positions just weren't possible." There exists some sexual devices, such as swings and suspension harnesses, that facilitate sexual intercourse for those with mobility impairments.

Functions of sex beyond reproduction

Humans, bonobos and dolphins are the only species known to engage in heterosexual behaviors even when the female is not in estrus, which is a point in her reproductive cycle suitable for successful impregnation. These three species, and others, are also known to engage in homosexual behaviors.

In both humans and bonobos the female undergoes relatively concealed ovulation, so that both male and female partners commonly do not know whether she is fertile at any given moment. One possible reason for this distinct biological feature may be formation of strong emotional bonds between sexual partners important for social interactions and, in the case of humans, long-term partnership rather than immediate sexual reproduction.

Humans, bonobos and dolphins are all intelligent social animals, whose cooperative behavior proves far more successful than that of any individual alone. In these animals, the use of sex has evolved beyond reproduction apparently to serve additional social functions. Sex reinforces intimate social bonds between individuals to form larger social structures. The resulting cooperation encourages collective tasks that promote the survival of each member of the group.

Alex Comfort and others posit three potential advantages of intercourse in humans, which are not mutually exclusive: reproductive, relational, and recreational. While the development of the Pill and other highly effective forms of contraception in the mid- and late 20th century increased peoples' ability to segregate these three functions, they still overlap a great deal and in complex patterns. For example: A fertile couple may have intercourse while contracepting not only to experience sexual pleasure (recreational), but also as a means of emotional intimacy (relational), thus deepening their bonding, making their relationship more stable and more capable of sustaining children in the future (deferred reproductive). This same couple may emphasize different aspects of intercourse on different occasions, being playful during one episode of intercourse (recreational), experiencing deep emotional connection on another occasion (relational), and later, after discontinuing contraception, seeking to achieve pregnancy (reproductive, or more likely reproductive and relational).

Oral and anal sex

Oral sex consists of all the sexual activities that involve the use of the mouth, tongue, and possibly throat to stimulate genitalia. It is sometimes performed to the exclusion of all other forms of sexual activity. Oral sex may include the ingestion or absorption of semen or vaginal fluids.

While there are many sexual acts involving the anus, anal cavity, sphincter valve and/or rectum, the specific meaning of anal sex is the insertion of a man's penis into another person's rectum.

Sexual ethics and legality

Unlike some other sexual activities, vaginal intercourse has rarely been made taboo on religious grounds or by government authorities, as procreation is inherently essential to the continuation to the species or of any particular genetic line, which is considered to be a positive factor, and indeed, enables most societies to continue in the first place. Many of the cultures that had prohibited sexual intercourse entirely no longer exist; an exception is the Shakers, a sect of Christianity that has four adherents at current . There are, however, many communities within cultures that prohibit their members to engage in any form of sex, especially members of religious orders and the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church and priests in Buddhist monasteries. Within some ideologies, coitus has been considered the only "acceptable" sexual activity. Relatively strict designations of "appropriate" and "inappropriate" sexual intercourse have been in human culture for hundreds of years. These legal or cultural restrictions may include:

Often a community adapts its legal definitions during case laws for settling disputes. For example, in 2003 the New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled that same-sex relations do not constitute sexual intercourse, based on a 1961 definition from Webster's Third New International Dictionary, in Blanchflower v. Blanchflower, and thereby an accused spouse in a divorce case was found not guilty of adultery based on this technicality.

Most countries have age of consent laws specifying the minimum legal age for engaging in sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse with a person against their will, or without their informed legal consent, is referred to as rape, and is considered a serious crime in many cultures around the world, including those found in Europe, northern and eastern Asia, and the Americas. Sex, regardless of consent, with a person under the age of consent is often considered to be sexual assault or statutory rape. The age of consent varies from country to country and often by state or region; commonly, the age of consent is set anywhere between twelve and eighteen years of age, with sixteen years being the most common age the law sets. Sometimes, the age of consent is lowered for people near the same age wishing to participate in intercourse. For example, in Canada, the minimum age of consent for all couples is 14. However, the age of consent can go below 14 on the condition that the couple still are not 2 years of age apart. Religions may also set differing ages for consent, with Islam setting the age at puberty, which can vary from around 10 to 14. There are exceptions in the case of anal sex or people in a position of trust/authority.

Religious views

Religious views on sexual intercourse vary widely between religions, between different sects of the same religion, and even between different members of the same sect.

See also

External links

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This article is based on "Sexual intercourse" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Sexual+intercourse&action=history