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This article is about sexual practices and related social aspects. For broader aspects of sexual behaviour, see Human sexuality. Sexual activity” and “sexual behaviour” redirect here. For sexual behaviour of other animals, see Animal sexual behaviour. Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality. In some cultures, sexual activity is considered acceptable only within marriage, while premarital and extramarital sex are taboo. Sexual activity can be classified into the gender and sexual orientation of the participants, as well as by the relationship of the participants.
Sexual activity can be consensual, which means that both or all participants agree to take part and are of the age that they can consent, or it may take place under force or duress, which is often called sexual assault or rape. This Indian Kama sutra illustration, which shows a woman on top of a man, depicts the male erection, which is one of the physiological responses to sexual arousal for men. The physiological responses during sexual stimulation are fairly similar for both men and women and there are four phases. During the excitement phase, muscle tension and blood flow increase in and around the sexual organs, heart and respiration increase and blood pressure rises. Men and women experience a “sex flush” on the skin of the upper body and face. Typically, a woman’s vagina becomes lubricated and her clitoris becomes swollen. During the plateau phase, heart rate and muscle tension increase further.