09 Quiz

By November 19, 2013 March 9th, 2018 Resources, Toolkit




This is a quiz, intended to increase participants’ understanding of sexual function and the physiology of pleasure. The discussion questions at the end of the quiz enable a deeper discussion on sex, its physiology and notions of pleasure.


To increase understanding of sexual functioning and the physiological basis of sexual pleasure

Approximate Time

60-90 Minutes

Materials Needed

Copies of the quiz for each participant




Distribute the quiz to participants.

Explain that the quiz is a participatory way of sharing some relevant information.

Ask participants to complete the quiz alone to begin with, taking just a few minutes to do so.

When they are ready, ask them to form small groups. They should take 15 minutes to compare and discuss their answers and see if they can reach consensus.

In plenary, take feedback from the small groups on each question and discuss.

Tips for trainers

The trainer should be well prepared for the discussion questions at the end of the quiz. Recommended reading includes ‘Everything you wanted to know about pleasurable safer sex but were afraid to ask. Twenty questions on sex, pleasure and health’ by Wendy Knerr and Anne Philpott, The Pleasure Project. (Link)



  1. What is the first physiological sign of sexual arousal in women?


  1. vaginal lubrication

  2. erection of the nipples

  3. erection of the clitoris

  4. increased heart rate


  1. What is the first physiological sign of sexual arousal in men?


  1. erection of the penis

  2. increased heart rate

  3. erection of the nipples

  4. rising of testes in scrotum

  1. Which of the following kinds of stimulation might result in an orgasm?


  1. fantasies/dreams

  2. clitoral stimulation

  3. penile stimulation

  4. kissing

  5. breast stimulation

  6. penetration

  7. anal stimulation

  8. oral sex

  9. using sex toys

  10. pain

  11. sensual body touching

  12. (all of the above

  13. none of the above

  1. An orgasm for a woman is characterised by vaginal contractions

  1. agree

  2. disagree

  3. unsure

  1. An orgasm for a man is characterised by ejaculation:


  1. agree

  2. disagree

  3. unsure


  1. Sexual pleasure need not be dependent  on genital stimulation:


  1. agree

  2. disagree

  3. unsure


  1. People masturbate:


  1. in the absence of a partner

  2. with a partner

  3. at any age

  4. to be sexual

  5. to help them sleep

  6. to give themselves pleasure


  1. Why are people heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual?

  1. nature

  2. upbringing

  3. choice

  4. nobody knows



  1. What is the first physiological sign of sexual arousal in women?


  1. What is the first physiological sign of sexual arousal in men?


Masters and Johnson reported in the findings of their research that vaginal lubrication was the first physiological sign of sexual arousal in women, and erection of the penis the first sign in men. They said that in both men and women the first physiological signs of arousal are caused by the reflex vasodilatation of the genital blood vessels. The male erection is caused by the engorgement of the penis with blood. For the female, the engorgement of the walls of the vagina and surrounding tissues causes a clear fluid to seep through the vaginal wall.


For both men and women, arousal can be caused by smells, sounds, touch, taste, images or thoughts. These physiological responses, as conceptualised by Masters and Johnson, follow a consistent pattern irrespective of sexual orientation.


Furthermore their research was specific to particular groups in the USA.   By its very nature this kind of research is essentially “normative” and seeks to identify similarities rather than differences. One consequence of this may be that people feel inadequate or “different” because their individual experience does not match the stated “norms”.


Ask participants:

  • Do Masters and Johnson’s findings match women’s/men’s own experience of their sexual response?

  • What are the similarities/differences between men and women?

  • What are the consequences of the differences in visibility of sexual arousal in men and women?

  • Can both men and women fake sexual desire and orgasm?

  • Does it matter if we are like/unlike other people in our sexual lives?

  • Do men feel more pleasure than women during sex?

  • Is sexual pleasure more of a physical experience for men than for women?


  1. Which of the following kinds of stimulation might result in an orgasm?


In theory any or all of these can lead to orgasm. Some people prefer one kind of stimulation while others prefer a different kind or combinations. This can also vary from occasion to occasion at different stages of one’s life.


Orgasm can be triggered either by tactile or psychic stimulation or a combination of the two. The brain plays an important role in enhancing sexual pleasure (e.g. through sexual fantasy). This also explains why people with disabilities can experience sexual pleasure even when they have no genital sensation.


Ask participants:

  • Can you GIVE anyone else an orgasm?

  • What might be the role of touch in orgasm?

  • What might the role of sexual fantasy be in sexual excitement?

  • What role might sexual aids e.g. vibrators, pornography have in relation to sexual arousal?

  • How do you feel about these?

  • How do we learn what is the best way to stimulate ourselves sexually?

  • “Foreplay” – does it exist? If so what is it? Why is it talked about?

  • Safer sex – is it sexy or not? How could we make it more sexy?


  1. An orgasm for a woman is characterised by vaginal contractions:


Orgasm is notoriously hard to describe. Masters and Johnson’s laboratory research on human sexual response led them to the conclusion that there is only one kind of female orgasm which is centred around the clitoris and is characterised by involuntary rhythmic contractions of the outer third of the vagina (the so-called ‘orgasmic platform’). But this necessarily only addresses the physiological element of orgasm.


At a physiological level orgasm is the reflex response once a threshold level of sexual stimulation is reached. Orgasm can be inhibited by insufficient or ineffective stimulation or by difficulties in “letting go” emotionally. Women who have not been able to experience an orgasm can learn to do so. Similarly male partners can learn more about female sexual arousal and orgasm.


What is certain is that the hallmark of orgasm in both men and women is a sensation which is both physical and emotional in nature and unique to each of us. Descriptions of orgasms can be very diverse. The nature and intensity of orgasms depend on a complex range of social, psychological and physical factors.


Because women, unlike men, do not experience a refractory period (during which men are unresponsive to further sexual stimulation) continued stimulation may lead to another orgasm.


Ask participants:

  • Can we ever adequately define an orgasm?

  • What would be your own definition of an orgasm?

  • How would you describe an orgasm to someone who hasn’t had one?

  • Does having an orgasm matter?

  • What is the difference between sexuality and sensuality?

  • Do you know more about men or women’s orgasms? Why?


  1. An orgasm for men is characterised by ejaculation:


According to Masters and Johnson ejaculation occurs in two stages: the first consisting of the pooling of seminal fluid inside the body; the second of its rapid expulsion caused by rhythmic muscular contractions. It is usually this “pumping” experience which is associated with orgasm.


Ejaculation and orgasm are not necessarily synonymous. For example, some men who have had prostatectomies (i.e. partial or complete removal of the prostate gland) may be left unable to ejaculate, or ejaculate in a retrograde fashion (into the bladder). However their ability to experience orgasm remains intact. The extent to which men generally are able to experience orgasm independently of ejaculation (and even erection) is unclear.


What is more certain is that after orgasm the vast majority of men enter a “refractory” period (during which they are unresponsive to further stimulation) The duration of this period is different within and between individuals but as men get older this period tends to lengthen.


Whether or not men have the potential to be “multiply orgasmic” i.e. to experience two or more consecutive orgasms without a refractory period is as yet unclear.


Ask participants:

  • What difficulties might men experience in relation to ejaculation?

  • If orgasm for men is not necessarily ejaculation, what is it? Can men be multi-orgasmic?

  • Are women and men different in the emphasis they give to genital stimulation?

  • Are men more orgasm-oriented than women? Why?


  1. Sexual pleasure need not be dependent on genital stimulation?


Sexual pleasure is dependent on a variety of behaviours, moods, environments, attitudes, expectations and social conditioning. It is important to distinguish between what each of us identifies as sexually pleasurable and the “objective” criteria of physiological stimulation and response described above.


Ask participants:

  • What is sexuality?

  • Is sexuality different from sensuality?

  • What about people with different degrees of physical disability (permanent or temporary) – how might this affect their experience of their sexuality?

  • Do men and women view sexuality and sensuality differently? If so why?


  1. People masturbate:


In some cultures masturbation is considered to be an important source of pleasure whether done alone or shared with a partner, while in others it remains unacceptable and, when practiced, may lead to considerable feelings of guilt.


Potentially positive aspects of masturbation are that it is safe sex and it can play an important role in learning about ourselves as sexual beings.


Ask participants:

  • How do you feel about masturbation?

  • What do you think about partners in a relationship masturbating separately?

  • Who is ultimately responsible for our sexual pleasure?

  • How should adults respond to children who masturbate?


  1. Why are people heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual?


Sexual orientation refers to primary sexual attraction to the same, opposite or both sexes.


While this question asks about heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality most research has concentrated on looking at the “causes” of homosexuality thereby defining it as a “problem” rather than viewing any apparently exclusive sexual identity as equally in need (or not) of explanation. Heterosexuality is seen as “given” and “natural” and therefore not in need of explanation.


Ask participants:

  • Are behaviour and identity always consistent?

  • Does it matter what sexual orientation we have? Why?

  • What is homophobia?

  • How might it manifest itself?

  • How do you feel about people whose sexual orientation differs from your own?

  • What assumptions might we make about the sexuality of others?


Don’t forget to leave us a comment about your experience with this exercise!