Skip to main content

Neurophysiology of sexual spinal reflexes

  • Reference work entry
  • 368 Accesses

Synonyms

Sexual neurophysiology

Definition

The sexual spinal reflexes are spinal cord reflexes (consisting of afferent and efferent components) which instigate the genital vasocongestion and neuromuscular tension responsible for sexual arousal (erection in men and vaginal lubrication and elongation in women), the triggering of ejaculation in men, and possibly orgasm in both sexes.

Characteristics

Sexual Arousal in Men and Women

Both men and women have erectile tissue in their genitalia. Nerve mediated vasocongestion to the pelvis allows for genital tissue engorgement. In men, penile erection occurs when the sinusoidal spaces (the trabeculae) of the corpora cavernosal bodies fill with blood, expanding them to their anatomical limit set by a surrounding, stocking-like, elastic tunica albuginea. Arterial penile filling, or “tumescence,” is further assisted by the cessation of venous outflow from compression of the emissary veins which pierce the tunica. This veno-occlusive mechanism, in...

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_3936
  • Chapter length: 4 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   2,499.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-540-29678-2
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   2,499.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

References

  1. McMahon CG (2004) The ejaculatory response. In: Seftel AD (ed) Male and female sexual dysfunction. Mosby, London, pp 43–57

    Google Scholar 

  2. Giuliano F, Julia-Guilloteau V (2006) Neurophysiology of female genital response. In: Goldstein I, Meston CM, Davis SR, Traish AM (eds) Women’s sexual function and dysfunction. Taylor & Francis, New York, pp 168–173

    Google Scholar 

  3. Allard J, Giuliano F (2004) Central neurophysiology of penile erection. In: Seftel AD (ed) Male and female sexual dysfunction. Mosby, London, pp 3–18

    Google Scholar 

  4. Marson L, McKenna KE (1990) The identification of a brainstem site controlling the spinal sexual reflexes in male rats. Brain Res 515:303–308

    PubMed  CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  5. Komisarik BR, Whipple B, Crawford A, Liu WC, Kalnin A, Mosier K (2004) Brain activation during vaginocervical self-stimulation and orgasm in women with complete spinal cord injury: fMRI evidence of mediation by the vagus nerves. Brain Res 1024 (1–2):77–88

    CrossRef  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Rees PM, Fowler CJ, Maas CP (2007) Sexual Function in men and women with neurological disorders. Lancet 369:512–525

    PubMed  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  7. McKenna KE, Chung SK, McVary KT (1991) A model for the study of sexual function in anesthetised male and female rats. Am J Physiol 261 (5 Pt 2):R1276–R1285

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Chang AT, Steers WD (1999) Neurophysiology of penile erection. In: Carson C, Kirby R, Goldstein I (eds) Textbook of erection dysfunction. ISIS Medical Media, Oxford, UK, pp 59–72

    Google Scholar 

  9. Shafik A (1998) The mechanism of ejaculation: the glans–vasal and urethromuscular reflexes. Arch Androl 41(2):71–78

    PubMed  CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  10. Elliott S (2002) Ejaculation and orgasm: sexuality in men with SCI. Top Spinal Cord Inj Rehabil 8(1):1–15

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2009 Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg

About this entry

Cite this entry

Elliott, S.L. (2009). Neurophysiology of sexual spinal reflexes. In: Binder, M.D., Hirokawa, N., Windhorst, U. (eds) Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_3936

Download citation