Physical and emotional changes

t's normal to experience physical and emotional changes as we get older — and those changes can affect how we respond to sexual stimulation and feel about being inimate with our partners. If you're having a hard time reaching orgasm, if sex has become painful, or if it's just been a long time since you were last sexually active, find the answers and advice that you're looking for right here. Start by understanding how a woman's sex drive changes over the years

Lessons in Sexual Anatomy

Has it been awhile since you learned about the birds and the bees? If so, then a little sexual refresher course is in order. Increase your know-how about where sexual organs are located and how they work with our informative guides to male and female anatomy.
Female Sexual Anatomy
Internal Organs

Key organs for female reproduction are protectively located deep within the body. These include:
  • Ovaries — A woman normally has a pair of ovaries that resemble almonds in size and shape. They are home to the female sex cells, called eggs, and they also produce estrogen, the female sex hormone. Women’s ovaries already contain several hundred thousand undeveloped eggs at birth, but the eggs are not called into action until puberty. Roughly once a month, starting at puberty and lasting until menopause, the ovaries release an egg into the fallopian tubes; this is called ovulation. When fertilization does not occur, the egg leaves the body as part of the menstrual cycle.
  • Fallopian tubes — The ovaries connect to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. Fertilization usually happens within the fallopian tubes. Then, the fertilized egg makes its way down to the uterus.
  • Uterus — The uterus is located in the pelvis of a woman’s body and is made up of smooth muscle tissue. Commonly referred to as the womb, the uterus is hollow and holds the fetus during pregnancy. Each month, the uterus develops a lining that is rich in nutrients. The reproductive purpose of this lining is to provide nourishment for a developing fetus. Since eggs aren’t usually fertilized, the lining usually leaves the body as menstrual blood during a woman’s monthly period.
  • Cervix — The lower part of the uterus, which connects to the vagina, is known as the cervix. Often called the neck or entrance to the womb, the cervix lets menstrual blood out and semen into the uterus. The cervix remains closed during pregnancy but can expand dramatically during childbirth
  • Vagina — The vagina has both internal and external parts and connects the uterus to the outside of the body. Made up of muscle and skin, the vagina is a long hollow tube that is sometimes called the “birth canal” because, if you are pregnant, the vagina is the pathway the baby will take when it’s ready to be born. The vagina also allows menstrual blood to leave a woman's body during reproduction and is where the penis deposits semen during sexual intercourse.
Female Sexual Anatomy: External Parts
The entrance to the vagina is surrounded by external parts that generally serve to protect the internal organs; this area is called the vulva. The vulva consists of the following:
  • Labia majora — Translated as “large lips,” this flap of skin protects the vagina from foreign particles.
  • Labia minora — The “small lips” also surround and protect the vaginal opening and are located inside the labia majora.
  • Clitoris — The clitoris is a sensitive organ located above the vaginal opening. The clitoris does not directly affect reproduction, but it is an important part of the female sexual anatomy; many women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm.
  • Mons pubis — The fatty mound of tissue that covers the pubic bone. Often called the "mons."
  • PerineumA stretch of hairless, sensitive skin that extends from the bottom of the vaginal opening back to the anus.
Male Sexual Anatomy
The organs and glands that make up the male sexual anatomy include:
  • Testicles — After puberty, a man’s testicles, located at the base of the penis, produce male sex cells called sperm. Also starting at puberty, testicles produce testosterone, the male sex hormone. A man’s sperm production, once started, continues throughout his life; sexually mature males produce millions of sperm cells each day. The testicles are located below the penis, outside the body, where the appropriate temperature to make sperm may be maintained as it is several degrees too hot for sperm to be viable (able to fertilize eggs) inside the body.
  • Scrotum — The testicles are covered by a pouch of skin called the scrotum. The scrotum and the muscles surrounding it can pull the testicles toward the body when they are too cold, and relax away from the body when the testicles are too warm. The scrotum also holds the epididymis.
  • Epididymis and vas deferens — The epididymis stores the sperm after the testicles produce them, and the vas deferens transports the sperm from the epididymis to the urethra.
  • Urethra — The urethra is a duct, or tube, that transports fluids from the inside of the body to the outside. In both men and women, the urethra is connected to the bladder and is used to pass urine out of the body. In males, however, the urethra is also connected to the “accessory glands,” which produce semen, and to the vas deferens, the duct that brings the sperm from the epididymus.
  • Penis — The penis is perhaps the most visible part of the male sexual anatomy. It is made up of two parts, the shaft and the head (also called the glans.) The shaft houses the corpora cavernosa (two flexible cylinders comprised of erectile tissue that run the length of the penis and support erections), and the corpus spongiosum (erectile tissue surrounding the urethra). In its reproductive capacity, the urethral opening at the tip of the penis delivers sperm into the vagina. Urine also flows out of the body through the urethral opening.
  • Accessory glands — There are several glands that work together to produce semen, or seminal fluid. Sperm can live inside the female reproductive system for up to 48 hours, and seminal fluid helps the sperm move around and stay nourished. The seminal vesicle produces a fluid that provides energy to the sperm as they seek out the female sex cell, or the egg. The prostate gland makes a different fluid that helps the sperm move more quickly through the female reproductive system. Another set of glands, called bulbourethral or Cowper's glands, makes a small quantity of fluid that helps protect the sperm on its way through the urethra by neutralizing any leftover traces of acidic urine.