Human sexual activity

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.
A rolled-up male condom
Sexual intercourse in the missionary position
An Ottoman miniature from the book Sawaqub al-Manaquib depicting homosexuality
A 1925 Gerda Wegener painting, "Les delassements d'Eros" ("The recreations of Eros"), of two women engaged in sexual activity in bed.
A man handcuffed to a bed and blindfolded

Manner in which humans experience and express their sexuality.

- Human sexual activity
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.

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Sexual intercourse in the missionary position depicted by Édouard-Henri Avril (1892)

Sexual intercourse

Primarily about humans.

Primarily about humans.

Sexual intercourse in the missionary position depicted by Édouard-Henri Avril (1892)
Modern artwork of a couple engaged in vaginal intercourse
19th-century erotic interpretation of Roman emperor Hadrian and Antinous engaged in anal intercourse, by Édouard-Henri Avril
Édouard-Henri Avril depiction of a woman on top position, a position that is more likely to stimulate the clitoris
Édouard-Henri Avril depiction of cunnilingus in the life of Sappho
Chance of fertilization by menstrual cycle day relative to ovulation
"Coition of a Hemisected Man and Woman" (c. 1492), an interpretation of what happens inside the body during coitus, by Leonardo da Vinci
Sex positions for pregnant women: Sexual activity during pregnancy
Painting of a couple (a prince and lady) prolonging sexual intercourse
Erotic painting on ancient Greek kylix
Max Slevogt depiction of rape
Lawrence Alma-Tadema depiction of courtship and a marriage proposal
A pair of lions copulating in the Maasai Mara, Kenya
Mating houseflies

There are different views on what constitutes sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, which can impact on views on sexual health.

An illustration of anal sex

Anal sex

Generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure.

Generally the insertion and thrusting of the erect penis into a person's anus, or anus and rectum, for sexual pleasure.

An illustration of anal sex
Male genital anatomy, showing the location of the prostate with respect to the rectum
1892 lithograph by Paul Avril depicting male-to-female anal sex
19th-century erotic interpretation of Hadrian and Antinous (detail), by Paul Avril
A woman wearing a strap-on dildo about to engage in anal sex with a man
A woman performing anilingus (anal–oral sex) on another woman
Mucous membranes of the rectum
Depiction of anal sex on 510 BC Attic red-figure kylix
Suzuki Harunobu, A shunga print depicting an older and a younger man
Two Roman males on the Warren Cup, British Museum
Man and woman having anal sex. Ceramic, Moche Culture. 300 C.E. Larco Museum Collection.
François-Rolland Elluin, Sodomites provoking divine wrath, from Le pot-pourri (1781)
Ottoman illustration depicting two young men having sex (from Sawaqub al-Manaquib)

Although anal sex most commonly means penileanal penetration, sources sometimes use anal intercourse to exclusively denote penileanal penetration, and anal sex to denote any form of anal sexual activity, especially between pairings as opposed to anal masturbation.

Painting of a man performing oral sex on a woman

Oral sex

Painting of a man performing oral sex on a woman
Woman performing fellatio
A 17th century sculpture depicting a woman performing oral sex on two men. From the wall of the Umamaheshwor Temple at Kritipur.
A 19th-century depiction of cunnilingus

Oral sex, sometimes referred to as oral intercourse, is sexual activity involving the stimulation of the genitalia of a person by another person using the mouth (including the lips, tongue, or teeth) and the throat.

Sinnenrausch (ca. 1890), by Franciszek Żmurko

Orgasm

Sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure.

Sudden discharge of accumulated sexual excitement during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region characterized by sexual pleasure.

Sinnenrausch (ca. 1890), by Franciszek Żmurko
Jupiter and Juno, by Annibale Carracci
Frenzy of Exultations (1894) by Władysław Podkowiński

Sexual stimulation can be by self-practice (masturbation) or with a sex partner (penetrative sex, non-penetrative sex, or other sexual activity).

Drawing by Franz von Bayros showing an act of fingering

Non-penetrative sex

Drawing by Franz von Bayros showing an act of fingering
Frot: two men rubbing their penises together to create sexual sensations
1840 Johann Nepomuk Geiger depiction of mutual masturbation
Mammary intercourse, a form of non-penetrative sex
Red-figure Greek illustration of intercrural sex between a winged god (Eros or Zephyrus) and a youth (perhaps Hyacinthus)

Non-penetrative sex or outercourse is sexual activity that usually does not include sexual penetration.

Diagram of the female human reproductive tract and ovaries

Vagina

Elastic, muscular part of the female genital tract.

Elastic, muscular part of the female genital tract.

Diagram of the female human reproductive tract and ovaries
Pelvic anatomy including organs of the female reproductive system
An illustration showing a cut-away portion of the vagina and upper female genital tract (only one ovary and fallopian tube shown). Circular folds (also called rugae) of vaginal mucosa can be seen.
Medium-power magnification micrograph of a H&E stained slide showing a portion of a vaginal wall. Stratified squamous epithelium and underling connective tissue can be seen. The deeper muscular layers are not shown. The black line points to a fold in the mucosa.
Folds of mucosa (or vaginal rugae) are shown in the front third of a vagina.
A disposable plastic bi-valved vaginal speculum used in gynecological examination
A normal cervix of an adult as seen through the vagina (per vaginam or PV) using a bivalved vaginal speculum. The blades of the speculum are above and below and stretched vaginal walls are seen on the left and right.
Pre-menopausal vaginal mucosa (left) versus menopausal vaginal mucosa (right)
An ultrasound showing the urinary bladder (1), uterus (2), and vagina (3)
The womb represents a powerful symbol as the yoni in Hinduism. Pictured is a stone yoni found in Cát Tiên sanctuary, Lam Dong, Vietnam.
A sheep gives birth by vagina.

To accommodate smoother penetration of the vagina during sexual intercourse or other sexual activity, vaginal moisture increases during sexual arousal in human females and other female mammals.

Martin van Maële's print Francion 15

Sexual arousal

Sexual arousal (also known as sexual excitement) describes the physiological and psychological responses in preparation for sexual intercourse or when exposed to sexual stimuli.

Sexual arousal (also known as sexual excitement) describes the physiological and psychological responses in preparation for sexual intercourse or when exposed to sexual stimuli.

Martin van Maële's print Francion 15
Two birds that appear to be exhibiting affection

This may in turn make the person desire direct sexual stimulation of the breasts, nipples, buttocks and/or genitals, and further sexual activity.

Herpes genitalis

Sexually transmitted infection

Herpes genitalis
Micrograph showing the viral cytopathic effect of herpes (ground glass nuclear inclusions, multi-nucleation). Pap test. Pap stain.
Secondary syphilis
World War II US Army poster warning of venereal disease
A poster from the Office for Emergency Management, Office of War Information, 1941–1945
"Syphilis is a dangerous disease, but it can be cured". Poster encouraging treatment. Published between 1936 and 1938.
1930s Works Progress Administration poster
U.S. propaganda poster targeted at World War II servicemen appealed to their patriotism in urging them to protect themselves. The text at the bottom of the poster reads, "You can't beat the Axis if you get VD".
frameless

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), also referred to as sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the older term venereal disease, are infections that are spread by sexual activity, especially vaginal intercourse, anal sex and oral sex.

A rolled-up condom

Condom

Sheath-shaped barrier device used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection .

Sheath-shaped barrier device used during sexual intercourse to reduce the probability of pregnancy or a sexually transmitted infection .

A rolled-up condom
A giant replica of a condom on the Obelisk of Buenos Aires, Argentina, part of an awareness campaign for the 2005 World AIDS Day
Condom fitting in size over a penis made of silicone
Illustrations showing how to put on a condom
A female condom
An unrolled latex condom
A ribbed condom
A page from De Morbo Gallico (On the French Disease), Gabriele Falloppio's treatise on syphilis. Published in 1564, it describes what is possibly the first use of condoms.
A condom made from animal intestine circa 1900
Giacomo Casanova tests his condom for holes by inflating it
An old-fashioned condom package
During World War I, the U.S. military was the only one that did not promote condom use. Posters such as these were intended to promote abstinence.
Condom (and manual) from 1813
Condom tin, "3 Merry Widows" brand, circa 1930.
A condom given out by NYC Health Department during the Stonewall 50 – WorldPride NYC 2019 celebrations.
Used condom on a street

Cultural attitudes toward gender roles, contraception, and sexual activity vary greatly around the world, and range from extremely conservative to extremely liberal.

Male (or "external") condoms can be used to cover the penis (or fingers or other body parts) for safer sex when inserting into body cavities

Safe sex

Male (or "external") condoms can be used to cover the penis (or fingers or other body parts) for safer sex when inserting into body cavities
Dental dams can be used to cover the vulva or anus when engaging in cunnilingus or anilingus, respectively, for safer sex
Female condoms ("internal" condoms) can be used by receptive partners for safer sex
A poster promotes condom use.
A poster aimed at lesbians says "Low risk isn't no risk". It uses the expression "safer sex".
Watercolor of manual stimulation of the penis, Johann Nepomuk Geiger, 1840
How to put a male condom on a penis
Two sex toys intended for anal use (note the flared bases)

Safe sex is sexual activity using methods or contraceptive devices (such as condoms) to reduce the risk of transmitting or acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs), especially HIV.