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Sexuality Throughout Life

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What is sexuality?

Human sexuality is much more than sexual feelings or sexual intercourse. It is the blend of physical, emotional and spiritual response, thoughts and feelings. Understanding sexuality means understanding who we are as a person and what we will become. There are complex elements that include sexual feelings, desire, behavior, identity and engage in sexual activity. Sexuality is influenced by biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.

These factors are break down into 5 components that influences on human sexuality:

  • Sexualization: using the body to influence, control or manipulate others like teasing or flirting. Other cases like sexual harassment, rape, and sexual misuse
  • Identity: this is how one’s sense of self and identified as a sexual being. This includes gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender roles
  • Health and reproduction: often to be the foundation of sexuality education and basic understanding for reproduction includes contraception, fertility management, infertility, abortion, menopause, and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Intimacy: is the need and ability to experience emotional closeness to another human being and to receive the emotional closeness as well
  • Sensuality: the need and ability to accept the body as an erotic possibility and sexual entity. This includes body image, anatomy, skin hunger, the sexual response cycle, and attraction

Adolescence as a unique developmental stage in human life cycle, also considered as the beginning of human maturitation a.k.a puberty.

There are 4 stages in adolescence sexual development:

  • Preadolescence typically occurs before the age of 10. This is where a child have low physical and mental investment in the existence of sex, and sexuality is rarely expressed
  • Early Adolescence usually occurs between the ages of 10-13 years. This is the beginning of physical maturation in which the hormones start to reproduce estrogen and testosterone in both male and female. During this stage, masturbation and sexual fantasies are common 
  • Middle Adolescence is when girls start to experience menses (period) and boys experience their first ejaculations which are commonly recognised when they have “wet dreams”. This occurs between the ages 14 - 17 where dating becomes important for teens in this stage and often leads to first sexual intercourse
  • Late Adolescence begins at 17 years and may end at different times. At this stage, young adults have reached fully physical and sexual maturity. Sexual behavior is rather expressive than exploitative and intimate relationships are developing

What is the sexual life cycle?

As many of us know, humans have to go through a sexual life cycle to clone ourselves into another human being. Unlike other organisms – let’s say starfish and cactus – that can give offspring by breaking themselves and regrowing into a genetically identical animal or plant (asexual reproduction), human sexual life cycle is different from that and we call it sexual reproduction. Human sexual reproduction is the meiosis and fertilization process of two parents combine sex cells (gametes) and leads to a new formation, genetically distinct, unique individual. This process is different than some organisms, like starfish and cactus example above, that can actually reproduce in asexual mode.

However, humans and other organisms such as animals and plants have to go through a sexual life cycle to produce offspring which involves an alternation between meiosis and fertilization. Human sexual life cycle comes under diploid-dominant life cycle category. Diploid-dominant life cycle is where the only haploid cells (a single set of unpaired chromosomes) are the gametes, that is the reproductive cell that can join with another cell to reproduce. Example of a gamete is the sperm that is ready to join with an egg then fertilize the egg to reproduce.

Image modified from "Sexual reproduction: Figure 1," by OpenStax College, Biology (CC BY 3.0).

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