During ovulation, the ovum travels down the Fallopian tubes to the uterus. These extend about four inches (10 cm) from both sides of the uterus. Finger-like projections at the ends of the tubes brush the ovaries and receive the ovum once it is released. The ovum then travels for three to four days to the uterus.[page needed] After sexual intercourse, sperm swim up this funnel from the uterus. The lining of the tube and its secretions sustain the egg and the sperm, encouraging fertilization and nourishing the ovum until it reaches the uterus. If the ovum divides after fertilization, identical twins are produced. If separate eggs are fertilized by different sperm, the mother gives birth to non-identical or fraternal twins.
Sexual intercourse (or simply called sex) is the insertion and thrusting of a male's penis into a female's vagina. People and animals that sexually reproduce use sexual intercourse to have an offspring. Sometimes sexual intercourse is called coitus or copulation and is more casually known as having sex or sleeping together. The two animals may be of opposite sexes or they may be hermaphroditic, as is the case with snails. Sexual intercourse may also be between individuals of the same sex.
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When, over the course of my reporting, people in their 20s shared with me their hopes and fears and inhibitions, I sometimes felt pangs of recognition. Just as often, though, I was taken aback by what seemed like heartbreaking changes in the way many people were relating—or not relating—to one another. I am not so very much older than the people I talked with for this story, and yet I frequently had the sense of being from a different time.
The pleasure of sex arises from many factors including the release of neurochemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine, which flood the system during orgasm, as well as the sense of connection communicated by touching, massaging, and cuddling. Given the enormous variability in activities that people find arousing, there is no one way to be sexual. Men are especially stimulated by visual imagery, and about 90 percent of young men report using pornography with some regularity, often because they lack a partner or don't know how to bridge the differences in sexual appetite and interest that can occur between partners in the absence of discussion of their sexual pleasures. Many people engage in behaviors that were once perceived as atypical, such as dominance play and anal intercourse. Researchers know that flexibility in sexual repertoires is healthy and generally enhances relationships; they regard a specific behavior as problematic only when it creates harm or distress for one or both partners or when the behavior is compulsive—that is, it becomes the only means of arousal. "Sex addiction" is a label often used to suggest excessive interest in sex, but studies show it may be more related to the moral/religious environment in which a person lives.