The lack of physical and psychological desire after achieving an orgasm to go for round two is commonly observed in both men and women. Many factors decide the refraction time after sex. These factors are age, frequency of sexual intercourse, cardiovascular health, intimacy in your relationship, and sexual arousal threshold.
You may want to start sooner after an amazing session but are physically unable to. There are ways to shorten the refractory period, but eliminating it is not possible. There are certain exercises, dietary modifications, and herbal supplements that can help you. This article covers the refractory period, why it occurs, how it is affected, and what options are available for you to reduce it.
What is the Refractory Period?
A refractory period is a time after ejaculation during which a man cannot achieve and sustain a penile erection. This occurs because the neural signals cause the smooth muscles of the penis to contract, making the penis flaccid due to the elimination of excess blood that was needed for an erection.
How sex affects your body
The body’s response to sexual activity occurs in four stages.
- Sexual Desire – During this initial stage, you will experience your rate increasing and an enhanced flow of blood to the penile tissues.
- Sexual Arousal – The rate of heartbeat elevates further, with rising blood pressure and heavy breathing. The tension in the penile muscles also increases.
- Climax – As your sexual stimulation intensifies, the heart rate and blood pressure hit a peak, and ejaculation occurs.
- Resolution State – Also known as the refractory phase, the body comes back to its pre-sex state. Your heart rate will normalize, and your penis will lose its erection.
After an orgasm, dopamine and testosterone levels decrease while the levels of the prolactin hormone elevate to help you relax and recover. Post orgasm, the levels of serotonin also increase and cause sleepy effects in the man. The experts consider the prolactin levels to be the cause of the length of the refractory period. A 2002 study conducted on a 25-year-old man with no refractory period unearthed the absence of prolactin hormone after orgasm.
Increased prolactin and lowered testosterone levels have a collective effect impacting the sex drive. Moreover, the release of serotonin and oxytocin reduces the alertness and attentiveness of men impacting the desire to engage in sexual activity again.
This phenomenon is not unique to men, women also experience it. However, women have a natural tendency to experience multiple orgasms and usually have a short or no refractory period in comparison with men. The psychological refractory time may affect the sexual desire of females. A study conducted on 174 women reported sensitization of the female clitoris, which resulted in a lack of desire to continue with sex by 96% of women. The refractory period for men may last for a few minutes to a few days, the average refractory period being anywhere between 2 to 5 minutes. It depends on the overall health, the amount of arousal you get in between, and the hormone levels.
Factors Affecting Refractory Period in Men
When considering the male refractory period by age, it is shorter in younger men than in older men. Teenagers can bounce back in a few minutes, while men in their 30s and 40s may take anywhere between thirty minutes to two hours to get sexually stimulated. And older men have a long refractory period and may take 12 to 24 hours to recover. This is because as men age, their testosterone levels decrease, affecting their libido.
- Sexual Health
Healthy sexual functioning is important for your refractory period. People who suffer from sexual dysfunctions may face difficulty in achieving a hard erection again. In such conditions, people may have to wait for a longer duration to experience sexual arousal.
People with higher libido, or temporary high libido for a specific session, may lower the refractory period.
- Type of Sexual Activity
The type of sexual activity you engage in may affect your refractory period. For instance, the refractory period after masturbation may be shorter than penetrative sexual intercourse with a partner. A study shows that the increase in prolactin after penile-vaginal intercourse was 400 percent more than masturbation. And prolactin levels have been linked with the refractory period.
- Overall Health
Some medical conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases or obesity, may affect your refractory period. Whereas healthy people who have a wholesome, balanced diet and exercise regularly tend to have a shorter refractory period.
Is There a Way To Shorten Refractory Period After Ejaculation?
In short, yes. A Google search will provide you with a diverse set of theories and products. Many of which have no scientific base. Some strategies have been approved by many people as being beneficial. Here is the list of how you can try to recover faster after sex.
Does Viagra or Cialis shorten the refractory period? Well, yes. Erectile Dysfunction medications such as Sildenafil, Tadalafil, Vardenafil, and Levitra have been studied for improving refractory time. And the studies with 100 mg Sildenafil citrate usage showed a decrease in the refractory time in men. However, the results may deviate for different individuals. It is best to discuss this with a doctor before using the ED medications.
ED medications such as Cialis 40 mg are PDE-5 inhibitors that work by restraining the action of the PDE5 enzyme, which is responsible for ejaculation. Cialis contains Tadalafil as its active ingredient, which exerts its effects for up to 36 hours. For a shorter duration of effects, people may switch to Viagra 50 mg or Levitra 40 mg, which lasts for up to 5 hours. So the idea behind the use of ED medications for minimizing the male refractory period is that because of the dilation of blood vessels, the flow of blood to the penile tissue can be quicker on sexual stimulation.
Exercising & Eating Healthy
Exercising regularly and consuming a well-balanced diet may boost your overall sexual performance. Pelvic floor exercises or Kegels may help you strengthen the muscles. You can also pursue aerobic exercises such as brisk walking to boost your cardiovascular health. The lifestyle changes will also help you prevent or treat any impacts on your cardiovascular health, which indirectly boosts your sexual health.
Foods that help shorten the refractory period are
- Dopamine-enhancing foods, rich in vitamin B6, B12 & folate – Tuna, asparagus, and chickpeas.
- Foods with vasodilation effects – watermelon, spinach, and dark chocolate.
- A meal rich in vitamins B6 & E may help in the reduction of prolactin levels.
Focus on consuming healthy foods that have aphrodisiac properties. We have listed them in our blog – ‘Foods to Cure Premature Ejaculation’. Limit the amount of alcohol you consume, and quit smoking.
Herbs to Naturally Shorten Refractory Period
There are many herbal treatment options available online claiming to be the permanent cure for your ailments. The herbal remedies help you prepare, engage and recover quickly from sexual intercourse. Many famous eastern herbs that have been praised by consumers for their effectiveness are –
- Shilajit – found abundantly in the Himalayan foothills
- Ferula hermonis – a Lebanese root plant
- Pausinystalia Yohimbe tree bark – a famous aphrodisiac from West Africa
- Ginseng – a famous herb from China.
- Eurycoma Longifolia – native tree of rainforests of South-East Asia.
This is not an exhaustive list. Many herbs may work for you while not for others. Opting for herbal treatment options does not ensure a sure-shot relief. You must be cautious of the sources. Buy such products only from reputable sources, and do not forget to check the labels for any suspicious ingredients or claims.
Other Techniques to Enhance Sexual Stimulation
Working on improving sexual arousal techniques helps you to get an erection sooner after ejaculation.
- Foreplay may enhance the effects of the actual act. Search for new sex positions and try them out after finishing once.
- You can also spice up your game by pursuing role-play and trying new fantasies.
- Uplifting your ambiance by lighting up a few aromatic candles may get you into the mood.
- Try moving out of your bedroom and get it going in new places to get excitement.
The refractory period is a perfectly normal and natural process. Its duration varies among men depending on certain factors such as age, sex drive, and type of activity you were involved in. Younger men have a shorter refractory period, while older men have a longer one. It is likely to be shorter if you have been practicing masturbation, whereas penile-vaginal intercourse prolongs it. You may not be able to eliminate it, but there are ways to shorten it and boost your sexual performance.
- Betjes, E. (2013) What is the refractory period?, ISSM. https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-the-refractory-period/
- Haake, P., Exton, M., Haverkamp, J. et al. Absence of orgasm-induced prolactin secretion in a healthy multi-orgasmic male subject. Int J Impot Res 14, 133–135 (2002). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijir.3900823
- Krysiak R, Drosdzol-Cop A, Skrzypulec-Plinta V, Okopien B. Sexual function and depressive symptoms in young women with elevated macroprolactin content: a pilot study. Endocrine. 2016 Jul;53(1):291-8. doi: 10.1007/s12020-016-0898-5. Epub 2016 Feb 22. PMID: 26902871; PMCID: PMC4901097. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4901097/
- Humphries, A.K., Cioe, J., 2009/01/01, 127- 134. Reconsidering the refractory period: An exploratory study of women’s post-orgasmic experiences, VL – 18, Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288131749_Reconsidering_the_refractory_period_An_exploratory_study_of_women%27s_post-orgasmic_experiences
- Brody S, Krüger TH. The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety. Biol Psychol. 2006 Mar;71(3):312-5. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.06.008. Epub 2005 Aug 10. PMID: 16095799. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16095799/
- Antonio Aversa, Fernando Mazzilli, Tiziana Rossi, Michele Delfino, Andrea M. Isidori, Andrea Fabbri, Effects of sildenafil (Viagra™) administration on seminal parameters and post-ejaculatory refractory time in normal males, Human Reproduction, Volume 15, Issue 1, January 2000, Pages 131–134, https://doi.org/10.1093/humrep/15.1.131