- What is the refractory period?
- What happens in the refractory period?
- Why does the refractory period happen?
- Does everyone have one?
- Is it different for males and females?
- What is an average refractory period by age?
- Does it vary between masturbation and partner sex?
- Factors that affect the refractory period
- How to shorten the refractory period
- What drugs reduce the refractory period?
Many men want to bring their A-game to the bedroom.
But, one of the obstacles is the refractory period.
For some, it can take hours, but for others, it is a period of minutes when they can’t try to ejaculate or get hard again.
This regeneration period is completely normal and isn’t unique to men.
If you want to know how to shorten the refractory period, then you are in the right place.
We compiled a practical guideline that can answer all your questions. This includes how long this period can last, why it happens, and other factors that can impact the duration.
What is the refractory period?
The male sexual refractory period (or post-ejaculatory refractory period) is the time after a climax, during which the man may not get an erect penis, orgasm, or ejaculate. Men are psychologically disinterested in intercourse, physiologically unable to get erect, or both.
The classic refractory period means that a man might not be sexually responsive. This period of inhibition of ejaculation or erection is temporary. The refractory time has to pass before a man can be sexually aroused again. (1)
This is known as the resolution phase. The refractory period is completely normal. The average refractory period can vary from a couple of minutes to 24 hours or more. It depends from person to person.
What happens in the refractory period?
During the refractory time, the body is recovering from the sexual excitement and is returning to its normal state. The penis becomes flaccid and soft, and it loses its firmness. The man doesn’t get aroused or think about sex, so his body may not respond to any sexual stimulation.
Even if there is some stimulation, the man cannot climax again until the refractory period passes. As a result, they obtain a psychological feeling of satisfaction. When the refractory period is over, their bodies can start performing sexually again.
Why does the refractory period happen?
There is not enough research on exactly what causes the refractory period.
One theory suggests that increased levels of serotonin and prolactin might be a potential cause. After an orgasm, the brain churns out serotonin, promoting relaxation and a better mood.
After ejaculating, the testosterone levels plummet, followed by a spike in prolactin. The elevated prolactin and drop in testosterone could be contributing factors to the decreased sexual desire. So, a man may lose interest in sex for some time.
Does everyone have one?
Absolutely. Anyone can have a refractory period after the climax. It happens at the final stage of the 4-part sexual response cycle.
The first stage of the cycle is called the excitement phase. You start to breathe faster, and your heart rate gets quicker. There is more circulation to the penis and vagina, forcing the muscles to tense up.
The second stage is known as the plateau phase. The muscles of the genitalia keep tensing. In women, the clitoris retracts below the clitoral hood. In men, the testicles pull up against the body.
Then it’s the third stage, called the orgasm phase. The muscles are contracting and releasing tension. The body becomes red and flushed. In men, the pelvic floor muscles contract to aid in releasing ejaculate.
The final stage is the resolution phase. The heart rate and blood pressure dip, and the muscles relax. This is when the body responds less to intimate stimulation. This is the start of the refractory period.
Is it different for males and females?
Both men and women have a built-in recovery period post-orgasm. For men, this refractory phase lasts much longer. That’s why women can have multiple orgasms during sex.
After ejaculating, the entire body goes into overdrive. The sympathetic nervous system induces a calm state, which causes the smooth muscle in the penis to lose its rigidity.
So, staying erect after ejaculation becomes taxing. How long this phase lasts varies based on the hormone prolactin. The lower the prolactin, the faster you can get back into the game.
What is an average refractory period by age?
It is difficult to get the exact estimate, as the refractory period by age can vary based on the person’s eating habits, libido, and overall health.
The average female refractory period can last a couple of seconds before the woman is sexually aroused again.
In men, this refractory period can take a couple of minutes, 1 hour, multiple hours, a day, or longer.
The older you get, the longer the average male refractory period can take. Some reports indicate that an 18-year-old male may need roughly 15 minutes of rest before being ready for another round.
In contrast, those in their 70s might need around 20 hours. The average refractory period for all men is roughly 30 min. But these are just general estimates.
Does it vary between masturbation and partner sex?
Many men want to keep going after coming. But, it’s important to point out that the type of sexual experience can affect how long the refractory period lasts. There is a major difference between partnered sex and masturbation.
Self-masturbation is a great way of getting to know your body and sexuality. It offers a temporary tension release on a physical level. Partnered sex creates a similar feeling to masturbation, except it is much more emotionally and physically intense.
Partnered sex is more physically draining. After intercourse, the refractory period can last much longer than self-masturbation.
Factors that affect the refractory period
A wide range of factors can impact the individual refractory period. Whether that is the excitement phase, desire phase, age, chemical, physical, or psychological mechanisms.
Some of these factors include:
- Testosterone levels
- Your feelings toward the other person
- Stress level
- Eagerness to have sexual stimulation or pleasure
Lifestyle things also play a role. Smoking and alcohol consumption can affect the duration of the refractory period. So, you might want to reduce your alcohol intake or avoid it entirely before sex and masturbation.
Even though multiple hormones can impact the ability to stay hard after coming, the higher the T-levels, the bigger the odds for men to re-engage in intercourse soon after ejaculating. Also, if you have strong emotions for your partner, you can feel more aroused and eager to continue.
How to shorten the refractory period
Some men might finish once and be ready for a second round soon after. But, if you are feeling overly satisfied, you are older, or have less stamina, you might find it difficult to get aroused again.
Plus, sex can feel a lot more pleasurable and satisfying if it has been a while since your last intercourse. This can shorten the refractory period.
Other practical tactics can help. Although there is not enough research to prove their efficiency, they can keep your sexual health on the right track.
These strategies include some lifestyle changes. Such as:
- Consuming a diet high in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals (especially aphrodisiac foods)
- Managing health problems that might cause sexual dysfunction (i.e., diabetes, alcoholism, neurological disorders, vascular disease, chronic ailments, etc.)
- Losing a few extra pounds
- Staying physically active with cardio (such as aerobics, running, or walking)
- Practicing Kegels or pelvic floor training
To shorten the refractory period, you might also want to try to be more innovative in bed.
Building up that excitement can help. Continue with foreplay and roleplay for quick arousal. Rather than worrying about when the penis can get erect again, it’s best to use this opportunity to cuddle and naturally move into a light, loving massage with intimate touches.
Try to please the partner with your tongue, fingers, and lips, to get them and yourself in the mood. When the penis is ready for action, you can use lubrication and try different sex positions. Don’t forget to break the pattern and change the schedules.
If you are doing it in the evening, you can try it in the morning. This kind of change might reduce the refractory period.
On that note, give your body time to restore. Avoid masturbating right before sex. This might help you get more aroused and decrease the refractory period.
Since the refractory period can greatly vary based on your psychological health, relationship status, and physical well-being, you can also try treatment.
If there is too much stress or conflict in the relationship, it can take a toll on the refractory period.
Couples therapy can help partners improve communication and find authentic ways to improve their love life. Experts can help the partners connect on a much deeper level and understand one another.
Psychosexual therapy, also known as sex therapy, uses mindfulness techniques, cognitive-behavioral intervention, psychotherapy, and couple interventions to get to the root of the problem. This therapy aims to help partners fix their sexual difficulties and work on their sex life.
What drugs reduce the refractory period?
Some erectile dysfunction medications might help. In one study, 60 healthy young men between the ages of 20 to 40 years old without ED used sildenafil. While sildenafil (Viagra) can’t prevent or eliminate the refractory period, it can reduce the post-ejaculatory refractory time. (2)
But, reports on the impact of Viagra on the refractory period are mixed. Another clinical trial showed that sildenafil citrate can prolong ejaculation latency (3). But, the sildenafil group didn’t experience a shorter refractory period after ejaculating.
Talk to a specialist if you plan to take prescription drugs for ED.
A refractory period is the time when a man temporarily can’t ejaculate or get an erection. How long the refractory period lasts can vary from person to person.
Many factors can impact its length, such as your age and physical and psychological health. To try and shorten the refractory period, you might want to add some lifestyle changes. This includes eating healthy foods, being more physically active to promote blood flow, and keeping a healthy body weight.
But, if the long refractory period is getting on your nerves, you might want to talk to a specialist.
Both sex therapy and couple therapy can be viable choices. Experts can help partners understand each other and form healthy habits. Viagra could help shorten the refractory period time. But, more research is necessary to know whether it can work on all users.