The Refractory Period

February 21, 2019

The Refractory Period

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Songs that croon about “doing it all night long” paint a lovely (if exhausting) picture of glistening, naked ecstasy. But in reality, the male reproductive system just wasn’t built for that. In fact, there’s a standard “rest period” between orgasms that you really can’t do that much about.

Men's Refractory Period During Sex

Songs that croon about “doing it all night long” paint a lovely (if exhausting) picture of glistening, naked ecstasy. But in reality, the male reproductive system just wasn’t built for that. In fact, there’s a standard “rest period” between orgasms that you really can’t do that much about.

That sleepy, satisfied — and very mandatory —  recovery process (how long guys have to wait between orgasms) is called the refractory period, and it can last anywhere from a few minutes to 24 hours or even a few days, depending on your age and other factors.

What is the Refractory Period?

Post-orgasm, both male and female bodies go through a recovery phase to restore normality after their stages of arousal. For men, it’s a period of time where you can’t get an erection and your body has no physical response to sexual stimulus.

Bummer, huh? It doesn’t have to be.

Like passengers stuck on a plane waiting to take off, air traffic control’s got you on a ground hold, and you just have to wait it out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. If your partner is still raring to go and you’re mentally in the mood, try sex toys or other partner-focused activities to fill the time. You just might need to consider you could be waiting a while, depending on your age.

What Causes the Refractory Period?

Physicians believe hormones are at the root of the refractory period. Both men and women experience increases in the hormones prolactin and serotonin after orgasm. Both of which inhibit your ability to get your next erection.

Charles Walker, M.D., assistant professor of urology and cofounder of Yale’s Cardiovascular and Sexual Health Clinic, explains to Greatist that the sympathetic nervous system — which controls our body’s fight vs. flight response — releases neurotransmitters to calm the body down after ejaculation. Those neurotransmitters also cause the muscles in the penis to contract and makes you go flaccid.

Those neurotransmitters increase production of prolactin that slow your body’s roll (so to speak). You also get a decrease production of testosterone post-orgasm, which adds to the reproductive system’s pushing on the brakes. There isn’t much you can do about it until the levels normalize again. At least, that’s what the theories have concluded so far.

A 2013 study published in the British Journal of Urology International noted that there are could be new theories on what triggers the refractory period on the horizon. The study in the BJUI posed that because men and women respond differently after orgasm, it could be more than just hormones that lead to the reaction in the body.

Certainly food for thought. In the meantime, you still have to wait a while before going at it again.

Timing (and age) is Everything

So, exactly how long do you have to wait? Well, as you age, the male refractory period gets longer. That means the older you are, the longer it will likely take for you to get aroused and maintain an erection.

According to the International Society for Sexual Medicine, young men don’t have long to wait:

Younger men may need only a few minutes of recovery time, but older men usually have a longer refractory period, sometimes between 12 to 24 hours. For some men, the refractory period can last a few days.

Medical professionals don’t know specifically why refractory periods vary so widely, but they do know it has nothing to do with potency or testosterone levels.

Feeling impatient? No drugs have been approved specifically to shorten the male refractory period, but research has shown that erectile-dysfunction drugs like Viagra or Cialis may help shorten the refractory period.

Do Women have a Refractory Period?

And ladies, get ready for some good news! You don’t really experience a refractory period, at least not in this same way that men do. You might not really feel like getting it on so soon after orgasm, but it’s not the same type of physical response.

So gents, while you’re waiting to go again, whether it’s a few minutes or a whole day later, just relax and bask in that postcoital glow. Your partner may be ready to go again soon — it wouldn’t hurt to turn a little of that sexual energy towards them until your time comes!

How to Avoid the Refractory Period

Once you’ve ejaculated, your waiting period kicks in before you can get an erection and get to it again. But that doesn’t mean you can’t prolong your sexual pleasure (and your partner’s!) the first time around.

Introduce foreplay before beginning penetrative sex to get your partner on your level, so to speak: Focusing on their pleasure points and bringing them closer to the brink of orgasm themselves means you both have a better chance of achieving orgasm together once penis-to-vagina contact begins.

Or, use Promescent Climax Delay Spray to keep yourself going strong for longer! Our product has been shown to increase the time it takes to orgasm by up to 64 percent — that’s a lot of time to enjoy each other during your first go.

Both of these methods mean you’ll be less likely to have to wait through your refractory period to ensure your partner is satisfied — and more likely to collapse in a sexy, exhausted heap together when you’re done.

Promescent delay spray travel size and standard size bottles.
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