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SUMMARY

The female external sex organs are called the vulva; the clitoris plays an important role in sexual arousal
and orgasm.

The vagina leads to the internal sex organs, including the uterus, oviducts, and ovaries.

The male external sex organs are the penis and the scrotum; the glans of the penis is an important site of
sexual arousal.

Internal sexual structures include the testes, vasa deferentia, seminal vesicles, and prostate gland.

The fertilizing sperm determines the sex of the individual. Specialized genes on the Y chromosome
initiate the process of male sexual differentiation in the embryo.

Hormones initiate the changes that occur during puberty: The reproductive system matures, secondary sex
characteristics develop, and the bodies of males and females become more distinctive.

The menstrual cycle consists of four phases: menses, the estrogenic phase, ovulation, and the
progestational phase.

The ovaries gradually cease to function as women approach age 50 and enter menopause. The pattern of
male sexual responses changes with age, and testosterone production gradually decreases.

Sexual activity is based on stimulus and response. Stimulation may be physical or psychological.

Vasocongestion and muscle tension are the primary physiological mechanisms of sexual arousal.

The sexual response cycle has four stages: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

Physical and psychological problems can both interfere with sexual functioning.

A treatment for sexual dysfunction first addresses any underlying medical conditions and then looks at
psychosocial problems.

Some gender characteristics are determined biologically, and others are defined by society. Children learn
traits and behaviours traditionally deemed appropriate for one sex or the other.

The ability to respond sexually is present at birth. Sexual behaviours emerging in childhood include self-
exploration, perhaps leading to masturbation.

Although puberty defines biological adulthood, people take five to ten more years to reach social maturity.

Sexual fantasies and dreams and nocturnal emissions characterize adolescent sexuality.

A person's sexual orientation can be heterosexual, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. Possible influences include
genetics, hormonal factors, and early childhood experiences.

Human sexual behaviours include celibacy, erotic fantasy, masturbation, touching, cunnilingus, fellatio,
anal intercourse, and coitus.

To evaluate whether an atypical sexual behaviour is problematic, experts consider the issues of consent
between partners and whether the behaviour results in physical or psychological harm.

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Responsible sexuality includes open, honest communication; agreed-on sexual activities; sexual privacy;
the use of contraception; safer sex practices; sober sex; and the taking of responsibility for consequences.

Barrier methods of contraception physically prevent sperm from reaching the egg; hormonal methods are
designed to prevent ovulation, fertilization, or implantation; and surgical methods permanently block the
movement of sperm or eggs to the site of conception.

The choice of contraceptive method depends on effectiveness, convenience, cost, reversibility, side effects
and risk factors, and protection against STIs. Measures of effectiveness include failure rate and
continuation rate.

Hormonal methods of contraception include a combination of estrogen and progestins or progesterone


alone. Hormones may be delivered via pills, patch, vaginal ring, implants, or injections.

Hormonal methods of contraception prevent ovulation, inhibit the movement of sperm, and affect the
uterine lining so that implantation is prevented.

The most commonly used emergency contraceptives are two-dose regimens of oral contraceptives and
Plan B, which is now available without a prescription to women 18 and older.

How IUDs work is not clearly understood; they may cause biochemical changes in the uterus, affect
movement of sperm and eggs, or interfere with the implantation of the egg in the uterus.

Male condoms are simple to use, immediately reversible, and provide STI protection; female condoms are
available but are more difficult to use.

The diaphragm, Lea's Shield, cervical cap, and contraceptive sponge cover the cervix and block sperm
from entering; all are used with or contain spermicide.

Vaginal spermicides come in the form of foams, creams, jellies, suppositories, and film.

Abortion is legal in Canada, and the procedure can be either surgical or medical.

Psychological effects may be experienced by some women who undergo abortion; having a supportive
friend, partner, or family is important to help with these challenges. Professional counselling may also be
advised.

FOR MORE INFORMATION


BOOKS

Bogle, K. 2008. Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus. New York: New York University
Press. An examination of the hookup culture on university and college campuses today.

Halbreich, U. 2003. New advances in premenstrual syndromes (PMS/PMDD). Psychoneuroendocrinology


[Special Issue] 28(3 Suppl.). An entire issue devoted to all aspects of PMS and PMDD, including symptoms,
treatments, and possible causes.

Kelly, G. F. 2011. Sexuality Today, 10th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill. An accessible approach that highlights
cross-cultural examples, popular topics and issues, and case studies featuring university- and college-age
individuals.

Marcus, E. 2005. Is It a Choice? Answers to 300 of the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Gay and
Lesbian People, 3rd ed. San Francisco: Harper. Candid and informative information on coming out, family roles,
and politics.

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Meston, C., and D. Buss. 2009. Why Women Have Sex. New York: Times Books. A fascinating, readable, yet
scholarly book about all aspects of female sexuality, especially sexual desire.

Omoto, A. M., and H. S. Kurtzman, eds. 2006. Sexual Orientation and Mental Health: Examining Identity and
Development in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual People. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.
Topics in mental health as well as sexual behaviour, work satisfaction, and the well-being of children of same-
sex couples.

Strong, B., et al. 2008. Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, 6th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.
A comprehensive introduction to human sexuality.

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Taverner, W. J. 2009. Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Human Sexuality, 11th ed. New
York: McGraw-Hill. Pro and con position statements on sexuality issues relating to biology, behaviour, and legal
and social issues.

ORGANIZATIONS, HOTLINES, AND WEBSITES

The Internet addresses listed here were accurate at the time of publication.

Center for Young Women's Health. Includes information about many topics, such as menstruation, gynecological
exams, eating disorders, body piercing, and sexual health.

http://www.youngwomenshealth.org

Children Now. Provides advice for parents about talking with children about difficult issues, including sex,
relationships, and STIs.

http://www.childrennow.org/parenting-resources/

International Planned Parenthood Federation. Provides information from a global service provider and a
leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.

http://www.ippf.org

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. Provides information from one of the oldest
and most respected institutions doing research on sexuality.

http://www.kinseyinstitute.org

Public Health Agency of Canada. Includes information about different methods of birth control.

http://www.sexualityandu.ca/birth-control/birth_control_methods_contraception

Sexuality and U. Provides credible and up-to-date information and education on sexual health.

http://www.sexualityandu.ca

Sex Information and Education Council of Canada. Fosters professional education and public knowledge about
sexuality and sexual health.

http://www.sieccan.org

Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. Provides information on many aspects of
sexuality including an extensive library and numerous publications.

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http://www.siecus.org

World Association for Sexual Health. Works to promote sexual health for all.

http://www.worldsexualhealth.org

See also the listings for Chapters 10, 12, and 13.

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