Girl Boner Physiology: The Female Body, Turned ON

As soon as a woman starts thinking with interest about sex, her vagina begins to moisten. 

This, according to Dr. David Delvin, GP and psychotherapist Christine Webber, is the physiological equivalent of a male erection.

“Is that a drink in your panties, or are you just happy to see me?”

(Okay, maybe not THAT wet, but since when do male erections look precisely like guns?)

Wetness may be a predominant sign of female sexual arousal, but there is so much more to Girl Boners…

To me, the term I’ve trademarked and used for years, encompasses all aspects of women’s sexual arousal, including physical and emotional factors. In case you missed last week’s post, Girl Boner is also my way of contributing to the progression toward a world in which women’s sexuality and sexual pleasure are embraced, celebrated and understood. Toward that end, let’s dip into some body-licious specifics.

What did my first sex ed teacher leave out? What actually happens when we’re aroused?

As many of you know, a whole heck of a lot.

(To learn much more about female sexual arousal, listen to August on Girl Boner® Radio!)

Girl Boner Basics: Sexual Arousal Signs in Healthy Women’s Bodies

  • When sexual desire strikes, our brains signal the release of moisture to lubricate the vagina for sex. (I suddenly have the urge to make that kitty RARRR! noise.)
  • At the same time, the clitoris, our most erotically sensitive part, and our labias, the vaginal “lips,” swell up. This creates an opening and room for the possible entry of a penis.
  • Our breasts also swell somewhat, while our nipples grow more pronounced.
  • We start breathing harder and faster, potentially to the point of gasping.
  • Our eyes glaze over. Our pupils may widen.
  • Those of us with fair skin may experience a full-body blush—the result of adrenaline causing our blood vessels to dilate, in order to improve blood and oxygen flow to our genital. For the same reasons, our veins may visibly throb.
  • We might lick our lips, cock our heads and arch our backs, overwhelmed by feel-good brain chemicals and an overall sense of WANT… Mmm…

All of this can happen without any sexual activity at all. In fact, I’d venture to guess that some of you who are really taking these words in are experiencing some of it right now. (If you need to take an, um, break, go right ahead.)

Franco: “Dare I say, your breast look sharp in cold weather.”
Yvette: “I’m not cold, dah-ling. I call these nipple boners.”

Many of us have heard that men are more sexual than women, become aroused far faster and have “sex on the brain” (or penises as brains) 24/7. In Girl Boner-land, we see things differently…

Before the early-mid 2000s, studies regarding sexual arousal in women utilized invasive probes and electrodes, comparable to uncomfortable mechanical tampons. Yes, you read that right. (No wonder men’s pleasure scores came out higher…) In 2006, researchers at the McGill University Health Centre in Montreal, Canada, chose a more accurate method known as thermal imagining, which allowed them to measure blood flow and heat to the genitals—tell-tale arousal signs.

Guess what they discovered? After extensive study, the researchers determined that men and women shown erotic images are aroused equally quickly.

Other factors can douse the sexual engine, of course, or rev us up faster or slower. But in ideal, or even reasonable, circumstances, healthy folks get turned on FAST. In other words, all of the above listed symptoms can magnify with the shwing of a penis.

On that exciting note, I’ll pass the mic to you. Were you surprised to learn that healthy men and women tend to have equally quick arousal time? Have you considered the numerous physical changes involved with female turn-on? Did you know that our breasts enlarge?!? Any exceptions or signs to add? (We all tick a little differently, regardless of gender.) As long as you’re respectful, TMI does not apply here.

Speaking of gender, I want thank Natalie Hartford’s husband for starting a compelling conversation about helicopters. To learn more, and because I think we gals should consider Girl Boner ‘copter-ing, check out Natalie’s post: Urban Word Wednesday: Helicopter. It’s at TRIP! 😉

If you have a question or topic you’d like addressed privately, feel free to contact me: @AugstMcLaughlin or Facebook.

*Girl Boner is sponsored by Nourish Literary, Inc.

Leave a comment

72 Comments

  1. I can’t believe that I’m the first to comment on this, the HOTTEST blog post ever.

    Reply
  2. GREATEST TITLE EVER!!!
    Very informative post, August!

    Reply
  3. Running from Hell with El

     /  November 12, 2012

    I blushed when I read the first sentence–and of course kept reading! I might just let my daughter read this one in a few years. I really appreciate your humorous, but scientific approach. And yep, all of this rings true, and I’m not in the least surprised that women get as turned on as quickly as men. I am a bit relieved that we’re able to hide it a little better lol.

    Reply
    • Thanks, El! I think it’s important to make sex talk light-hearted and fun. There’s plenty of serious and daunting material out there—much of which is vital for other reasons—but not enough pleasure/play for us gals, IMO. And I’m so with you on the secrecy bonus! Another reason less is known about us… We don’t often reveal all. 😉

      Reply
  4. I do wonder *why* we feel the need to lick our lips when we get aroused? That seems like a strange symptom of being aroused 😛

    And I’m still convinced my husband gets aroused faster than I do, despite your science 😉

    Reply
    • Apparently we lick lips, consciously or subconsciously, to make ourselves more attractive to our partners and to show we’re ready.

      And people certainly vary arousal-wise, both in signs and how long it takes. I used to think myself odd for being on the faster end… Finding a rhythm that works for us is what counts, IMO. (How’s the saying go? Happy wife, happy life. ;))

      Reply
  5. I have been waiting for this next-in-the-series since your sex ed post, August.

    The only signs of sexual arousal I didn’t know about (and…erm…experience) while reading your article was the physical swelling of breasts. Nipples? Yup. Those are pretty hard to miss. [Unintentional Pun]

    Perhaps I’m jumping ahead of your series with this question/comment. If yes, please tell me to sit down and be quiet. You’ll get to that topic.

    Much like your sex ed experience, guys had the benefit (almost rite of passage) of being open about sex, self-gratification, and the like. Locker Room talk. Girls? Not so much. Not at all, actually, from my experience.

    Couple that with the young studs ability to and propensity to let ‘er rip when their timing was right, and I found the “play through, b/c it’s not happening for me” factor became part of my lack-of-expectation for many years. Where the brain goes, the body will (or will not) follow. It still happens more often than I’d like.

    I’m reminded of a line from Crusie’s Faking It delivered by Davy Dempsey. Paraphrasing here: “You’ve thought yourself out of more Big O’s than you’ve ever had.”

    The challenge lies in shifting my Power of Expectation. LOVING this series. Woot! Our locker room is much tidier and smells nicer that the guys. Time to kick up some dust.

    Reply
    • You’ve brought up spectacular points, Gloria, and I’m happy to say that they’re on my radar.

      Societal and cultural factors are, IMO, the biggest deterrents regarding sexual pleasure for women, and a major reason many of us never experience orgasm. Makes me very sad, but also motivated to GB it up. 😉 I won’t tell you to sit down and hush up, but I do hope you’ll stay tuned! Your words are very affirming.

      Reply
  6. I’m not surprised at all!

    Reply
  7. I want to know if Franco and Yvette will be reoccurring characters in Girl Boner-land? I like them.

    Reply
  8. I’m just going to sit here at my desk at work with a vague smile on my face for the rest of the afternoon. Not sure if that’s because I’m a romance novelist or just because I’m a woman. 😉 Thanks August!

    Reply
  9. The real fun is when it occurs from even just a certain look, or the sound of my voice. The psychological torments of anticipation, and the allure of the animal within, are like nothing else on earth…

    Reply
  10. Lady Boners for the win! Love this post.

    Reply
  11. Raani York

     /  November 12, 2012

    This is such a great post August. It made me smile, grin, chuckle – and then I moved over to read about the ‘copterin… it WAS a trip! I laughed until I cried and thought I’ll go back to you to tell you that this was hilarious, thanks for the recommendation!
    I’m following her now. 🙂
    And: uhm… if you could send me a drawing I’d be happy. *HAHAHAAAAAAA*

    Reply
    • A drawing?!? LOL! Hmm…

      Glad you got a kick out of ‘coptering, too, Raani. Natalie and her hubby are an absolute riot, which means you’ll get along famously. 🙂

      Reply
  12. mgmillerbooks

     /  November 12, 2012

    It’s good to see people embrace their sexuality. Artists, especially, are very passionate people–in all aspects of life. At least, that’s how I justify all of my…”aspects” 😉

    Reply
  13. journalpulp

     /  November 12, 2012

    Another penetrating post, though I must confess all this talk of moist vaginas leaves me hard pressed to respond intelligibly.

    I’ve always had a thing for moist vaginas, frankly. Yet it’s such a slippery subject that I never feel I can quite put my finger on it. I used to run around with a girl back in tenth grade — she was a little older than me — who would occasionally orgasm just from having her breasts touched. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. It was nice. She told me never to stampede the clitoris. She told me not to neglect the labia. She said the anus was okay to massage but not to penetrate. She told me that you always know a girl is properly aroused when you put your hands down her panties and it feels like a horse eating oats. I loved her a lot.

    Reply
  14. This is my kind of blog post!

    Reply
  15. virgingal

     /  November 12, 2012

    Hi I only started to feel sexually aroused 3 weeks ago I’d never had any arousal or urges to men or women when younger as I was sexually assaulted without penetration as a kid I’m now 27 and instead of having my sexuality blossom slowly during puberty it all cam I’m one hit bam 3 weeks ago watched a ovie one night with sexual content movies never got to. Me b4. but this one did it led to my 1st sex dream I woke next morn avery aroused had no idea what I was feeling didn’t know people felt like that I also had a strong urge to masturbate but I didn’t even know if girls did it so I totally agree with you much more education is needed . That day I gave in & masturbated not knowing what I was doing just went on instinct. Then I began research to learn bout sex & why I had those feelings one app I used for esearch had a link I accidentally clicked it was for a chat site I thought would see what was all about & I got addicted to sexting on it I feel aroused nearly all time & many nights I hav sexual dreams & wake up a bit wet. I googled out of curiousity for male body & what young healthy men look like as I’d only ever seen my grandpa & he was scary looking this google images of porn became addictive & I’ve been masturbating once or mor a day on worst day 4 times aim addicted to all these sexual things and they say women. don’t want it Yeh right we r very sexual beings as I’m jus finding out. Does anyone have any tips for handling sexual arousal as I have no one to talk to bout. this stuff whenij told my mum I’d had ny 1st sex dream she just laughed. Sorry for talking so long but just explaining my situation in hopes that someone out there can help me. Thanks

    Reply
    • I’m so sorry to hear that you were assaulted, and that your mother hasn’t been more understanding about your dreams. Have you considered therapy? I’ve found it helpful in dealing with a broad variety of issues, and many psychologists specialize in these issues. You may also find books by Dr. Laura Berman, a qualified love and sex expert, helpful. Good luck!

      Reply
      • I’m so disheartened by your story and know you are far from alone!! There are loads of people, support groups, therapists and information out there to help you. I agree with August and the recommendation of Dr. Berman’s work. She’s a fantastic reference and easily accessible online. Don’t be so hard on yourself for masturbating everyday. Right now you’re exploring and learning. It’s not a bad thing to masturbate frequently. Keep following August’s posts she’s a wealth of knowledge!!

      • virgingal

         /  November 20, 2012

        Hi august I have considered therapy but don’t feel like can tell my parents n then they’d kno something is up or think I’m getting counselling for OCD n then I’d feel to much pressure to improve OCD quickly. Also psychere I liv are men & can only see them once every 4 weeks if lucky hard to get appointents ads they do many towns. I can’t afford to buy books. Thanks for the kind words I’m mostly trying to find out how girls manage sexual arousal as its not always possible to masturbate to relieve the pressure & arousal lf at work or school any tips much appreciated I have tried googling on net but found nothing jus talks bout persistent sexual arousal illness hope u can do post on this topic. Thanks

      • virgingal

         /  November 20, 2012

        Hi Molly thanks for your kind words n don’t be disheartened I’m.ok with my past it just explains why I havent had any sexual urges til.now but at least I missed out on.having to deal with all this as a teen I don’t know how they do it. Thanks your reassurance I’m enjoying getting to know my body but jus dorm want to become addicted more masturbate the more I want to. I have been told its bad by other people who share my religious beliefs so I’m still working out what believe about it but it does help ease menstrual pain n headaches they say so how can that be bad I starting to think. I just wish I had a girl pal that isn’t religious all my friends are & told a couple & they jus make ne feel bad about what I’ve been doing that need to stop it all the sexting the porn & masturbating. I have started watching videos of porn now so different to jus pictures & I’m starting to like seeing guys wank off I’m healing from past I feel & getting to know my body from these sexual things so feel is good but just have to watch I don’t become badly addicted. Thanks again Molly n don’t worry I’ll be ok just was seeking any tips ladies have for dealing with arousal. x

  16. what a fun series, August thanks so much. I have studied much of this earlier in life. As a therapist, it was important to know such info, even though I wasn`t a sex therapist. It`s interesting to see the differences in arousal as I age and I hope you`ll look at that too.

    Reply
    • Encouragement means a lot coming from someone I respect so much, Louise. Thank you! I’ll definitely examine arousal throughout the aging process. Stay tuned… 😉

      Reply
  17. Oh, good. You just confirmed that I’m normal. I can’t decide if I’m happy about that, LOL! Men and women getting aroused equally…dispels the myth, but is completely in line with what I thought. I always figured it wasn’t that guys got turned on more than women as it was usually one of two things…1.) guys are more comfortable with their bodies than women are, so they are also comfortable with their bodies responses. 2.) we’re not always turned on by the same things and the most obvious stuff out there is put there with men in mind. Again, thanks for confirming that I’m only equally as freaky about sex as men, rather than a bigger freak than most women…;-)

    Reply
    • I’m so glad this struck a chord with you, Kitt. Learning the truth about these arousal myths, and others that damage women’s sex lives and psyche, have empowered me like little else.
      Sexual fervor is a great thing we should embrace and take pride in.

      Reply
      • I agree wholeheartedly. (And I was being a smidge tongue in cheek) For quite a while I’d been starting to feel like Doctor Ruth with my friends…so I’m thrilled that I can now refer some of them to your blogs. 😀

      • I agree wholeheartedly. (And I was being a smidge tongue in cheek) For quite a while I’d been starting to feel like Doctor Ruth with my friends…so I’m thrilled that I can now refer some of them to your blogs. 😀

  18. mgedwards

     /  November 13, 2012

    Wow, August! Incredible. I will never look at girl boners the same way again. 🙂

    Your post reminds me of the sexual innuwindows of computerdumb. Why, you ask? Do you know what turns a computer geek on? Stimulating conversations about technology that hit the same buttons as your post and causes geek boners. The union of female and male couplers send a jolt of electricity to the computer’s brain, a big surge that sends the hard drive spinning out of control unless it’s regulated by software. Geeks love to ogle new models and penetrate them with their sticks, which fortunately have replaced floppy drives, but ultimately if they overheat in a flash drive, they’re bound to crash. 🙂

    Reply
  19. J Holmes

     /  November 13, 2012

    Interesting article. May everyone have a warm and wonderful holiday season to include intimacy.

    Reply
  20. Love this post! It’s important for women to own their sexuality and be proud of the bodies we have. Sex is awesome, so are girl boners.

    Reply
  21. Sliding out of my chair over here!

    Reply
  22. I have never believed that men get aroused faster than women. Women are generally more restrained when it comes to acting on their arousal I think. Women can still think (and probably multi-taks) when aroused. Men – not so much. Is it hot in here?

    Good post.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Reply
  23. Kourtney Heintz

     /  November 13, 2012

    Franco and Yvette are a trip. Thanks for tackling this topic in such a fun and delightful manner. 🙂

    Reply
  24. Love Girl Boners!!!! I’m so thrilled for this series. There needs to be som much more education regarding women’s sexuality and embracing all aspects of it. Championing everything about GB!!!! There’s way too much repression when it comes to this subject and it doesn’t sit well with me at all. I love the earlier comment about the brain not letting us ‘get there’. I think that’s my biggest hurdle most of the time. I can’t wait for your coming posts on the subject. GO GIRL BONER!!!!!!!! 😀 😀 😀 😀

    Reply
  25. I think that most misconceptions about sex have been because of men (no offense, guys, but I think it’s true). I have never believed that men get turned on faster than women. I think it takes us a lot longer to get to places than it takes them though and, frankly, most of them don’t seem to want to invest that extra time. It reminds me of something I read recently when I was doing the NaNo MS. A few characters were discussing how many calories sex burns (and whether it could be counted as exercise). Wanting to be accurate, I started Googling, and laughed until tears filled my eyes when I found this gem…

    Q:My wife and I have sex about four to six times a week and I have at times felt that it’s more work than pleasure. Is it common for a woman to expect to have an orgasm every time we have sex?

    A: ….Look, is it common for a man to expect to have an orgasm every time he has sex?

    The greatest thing about it was that it was from an NBC site…and a MAN was answering the questions.

    So I hope that’s a subject you’ll tackle here, since guys are reading it, too. Also, I’d like to see the G-spot covered. I know some people don’t think it’s real, but I can say with 100% certainty that it IS…and it needs a whole lot more attention than it gets. 🙂

    Loving the series, August. 🙂

    Reply
  26. I think I’ve been aware, as a boy, of the presence of Girl Boners, from a very young age. 41 years into life, I don’t have to understand them fully to fully appreciate them.

    Love this series. I’m learning, but I’m also telling myself, “I knew it!” Half education, half confirmation.

    Reply
  27. **(I suddenly have the urge to make that kitty RARRR! noise.)** I

    I LOVE!!

    Reply
  28. Fabulous post. I am taking anatomy right now (studying to become a nurse) and I remember reading the clitoris and penis are generally the same anatomically. They do behave in similar ways.

    Reply
  29. Richelle Vossler

     /  September 3, 2013

    Omg this helped me explain so much to my boyfriend thx

    Reply
  30. Anon

     /  October 1, 2013

    Is it normal for a young adult female to feel 70% (out of 100%) light headed when highly turned on?

    Reply
  31. Justice

     /  January 1, 2014

    Girls usually get wet and crave for sex… Their vulva increase in size and their breast become a larger than is original size.
    Hope my ans will help

    Reply
  32. LuLuIsFlying

     /  February 24, 2014

    First sign I get, before anything else, is trembles. I only have to think about the attraction and the sex and I literally start shaking. Is that normal?

    Reply
  33. I’d love to know how often other women get “girl boners” and how long the average person can go without an orgasm. By the sexual images and sounds that bombard us every day, I’m betting more people are getting off a lot more often than I am.

    Reply
    • That’s a great question, and I think the answer is, it varies. The more we accept ourselves, embrace our sexuality and do our best to dodge negative influences, the more intensely and frequently aroused we’re likely to be.

      Some women never orgasm, which I find really sad. There’s no right or best way to be in these regards, however–personal comfort, health and fulfillment matter most. 🙂 Good luck!

      Reply
  34. Great Blog!

    Reply
  35. Emily

     /  July 9, 2014

    I’ve noticed that in the past, I got a lady boner faster than any of my partners. Is that normal??

    Reply
  36. Kayla

     /  October 5, 2014

    Hello August. My name is Kayla. I have a question for you. It is about my body. So, I am a 13 year old female virgin and I can’t get aroused. I have no problem getting wet, but when I do masturbate, I don’t feel any pleasure at all. It also kinda hurts to touch my clitoris. Am I still too young to get aroused or is something stopping me from getting aroused? Please help if you can.

    Reply
    • Hi Kayla, We all experience arousal and develop differently — and you’re still very young. There’s no reason to feel ashamed for not feeling aroused, though it’s always wise to stay atop our health concerns by having them checked by a doctor. Have you seen a gynecologist yet? If not, I’d recommend finding one you’re comfortable with and asking as many questions as you have.

      As far as clitoral sensitivity, that’s very common. Your doc could help determine if there’s a medical issue at play; emotional issues, such as poor body image, can also interfere with arousal. If you’re healthy (which I bet you are!), I’d simply trust your body and know that your journey is still unfolding. I hope that helps! Good luck. 🙂

      Reply
  37. melissa

     /  December 10, 2014

    I have not read many of your posts but believe any discussion on female sexual health is a step.in the right direction. This post discusses arousal and it does not suprise me one bit that women are aroused just as quickly as men. However unlike men after arousal getting to the orgasm is a different journey in my experience. I think one of the biggest challenges for women, and their partners, is knowing what to do to get the woman to orgasm after arousal. Expectation and lack of understanding can leave both partners feeling inadequate. I also believe that being aroused but then not having any release could over time effect a womans labido. Who would be in the mood for sex if they just leave frustrated. This falls under women not expressing what they like and also worrying they may bruise their partners ego. Deeper discussions on orgasm especially when partners are involved would be very helpful. I love that there are open forums for discussions like these.

    Reply
  38. firewater

     /  December 26, 2014

    There no complete experiments and examinations about the speed of sexual arousal in women. So we need more videos, where you can see in which speed a clit is swlling and growing, then you can compare it with the sexual arousal time of a cock, when it starts to
    get stiff. Till just now we don`t have enough experiences about this topic.
    So women show us, how your clit si growing and it which time this will happen.

    Reply
  39. greatest post ever love u

    Reply
  40. Kali-Machelle

     /  December 1, 2015

    I might be kinda late for my response but I’m 16 and I’m a virgin. I love this guy so much emotionally and mentally…he’s not the hottest guy around but he turns me on without a doubt. He’s actually 22 and I thought he’d push me to have sex with him, but he didn’t. The thing is I want to SO BADLY but I’m not sure how to come across it.

    Reply
  41. firewater

     /  December 3, 2015

    Want to know, what starts earlier by women the vaginal moisten or the swelling of the clitoris?

    Reply
  42. Thanks for sharing my link! I post Girl Boner pieces (YKWIM! ;)) every Monday. Great roundup. Hope your week’s off to a sexy, sassy start.

    Reply
  1. NaNoGlobMo…Noodle Noggin Suspends GLOB « Gloria Richard
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  3. Meet My Stalker and Fave Posts of November 2012 | renée a. schuls-jacobson's blog
  4. Sexy Saturday Round-Up | Lady Smut
  5. Hot and Hungry: 6 Signs of Female Sexual Arousal | August McLaughlin's Blog

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