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Refractory Period: Science Explains Why Men Need Break Between Orgasms

It is not uncommon neither is it embarrassing, and you have probably been there. Upon reaching a sexual climax, most people can find it taxing to go for round two. Although studies point out that women are naturally rigged to go for seconds, for men, it is not that easy - and no it is not because men lack something. It is mere biology.

What Is Refractory Period?

Women and men have a built-in recovery period after sex. Refractory period ensues immediately after one reaches sexual climax. Also termed as the resolution stage, it is defined as the time between orgasm and when your body is ready to be sexually aroused again[1] .

In women, the refractory period is not as long as men, granting the possibility of multiple orgasms. In men, it is also called a male refractory period (MRP). MRP is the period after ejaculation which can last up to several minutes or even days, in some men [2] .

What Are The Factors Affecting One's Refractory Period?

For starters, the refractory period is not something that comes out of the blue. There are several factors affecting it, such as the individual's level of sensitivity, the quality and emotional state of your relationship, drinking habits, circumcision, medications and emotional comfortability of the individual - yes, you have to be at ease.

Refractory Period In Men - It Is Purely Biological!

Many men find it embarrassing or even hurt when they are unable to perform for the second time. This is due to the common misconception that the break in performance is due to the incapability of men, where in fact, it is due to certain physical factors that are common to the male body.

Studies have pointed out that after ejaculation, the male body becomes overworked, causing men to feel tired and worn out; where the sympathetic nervous system helps in calming the body down. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the release of certain neurotransmitters which in turn relaxes the muscles in the penis, causing them to contract and be flaccid [3] [4] .

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This, in turn, lowers the levels of dopamine and testosterone and increases the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and the hormone prolactin - which negates sexual arousal. The hormone prolactin is one of the primary hormones associated with refractory period because of the lower the prolactin levels, quicker the action [5] .

In some men, the period can extend to a longer period because of compounds called prostaglandins that affect the overall nerve response. Some studies also point out the role played by somatostatin in reducing sexual arousal immediately after ejaculation. Therefore, it has to be understood that the refractory period is not in the complete control of an individual.

Does Refractory Period Vary From One Person To The Other?

Factors such as overall health, libido, and diet plays a central role in impacting and prolonging the refractory period in a man. It is never the same in two different people and varies drastically based on the aforementioned factors[5] .

While for some men it may take a few minutes or an hour, for some it can take several hours, days or even longer (months!).

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How Long Does It Last?

For a teenage boy, the refractory period will be a few minutes, whereas for a man above the age of 30 can find it slightly difficult to regain form and for a man of age 50 and above, the maximum number of orgasms per day is one, studies point out [6] .

One of the other factors impacting the refractory period is age. With age, it can take an individual 12 to 24 hours to get sexually aroused again. To be precise, as supported by studies, the prominent shift comes by the age of 40.

As mentioned before, the factors affecting one's refractory period also plays a central role in deciding the period of its duration [7] [8] .

How Can You Shorten The Duration Of Refractory Period?

The length of the refractory period is affected by three main factors, namely, sexual function, arousal and overall health. And the best way to shorten the duration is by boosting and improving these three factors [9] [10] .

To boost sexual function,

  • avoid drinking alcohol before sex,
  • discuss with your doctor about erectile dysfunction (ED) medications and
  • practice Kegel exercises.

To improve arousal,

  • try new positions,
  • avoid masturbating before sex,
  • change the frequency of having sex and
  • experiment with new things with your partner.

To improve your overall health,

  • stay active, and
  • follow a healthy diet.
View Article References
  1. [1] Evans, M. R., & Majumdar, S. N. (2018). Resetting with a refractory period. arXiv preprint arXiv:1809.01551.
  2. [2] Hart, L. A., & Barfield, R. J. (2016). The ultrasonic postejaculatory vocalization and the postejaculatory refractory period of the male rat.
  3. [3] Seizert, C. A. (2018). The neurobiology of the male sexual refractory period. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 92, 350-377.
  4. [4] Patel, V. S., Chan, M. E., Pagnotti, G. M., Frechette, D. M., Rubin, J., & Rubin, C. T. (2017). Incorporating Refractory Period in Mechanical Stimulation Mitigates Obesity‐Induced Adipose Tissue Dysfunction in Adult Mice. Obesity, 25(10), 1745-1753.
  5. [5] Garbin, B., Dolcemascolo, A., Prati, F., Javaloyes, J., Tissoni, G., & Barland, S. (2017). Refractory period of an excitable semiconductor laser with optical injection. Physical Review E, 95(1), 012214.
  6. [6] Pothen, J. J., Poynter, M. E., Lundblad, L. K., & Bates, J. H. (2016). The Twitch And The Refractory Period: Testing The Allergic Inflammatory Response In The Lung. In A38. DIAGNOSTIC MARKERS OF ASTHMA AND COPD (pp. A1449-A1449). American Thoracic Society.
  7. [7] Barros, V. N., Mundim, M., Galindo, L. T., Bittencourt, S., Porcionatto, M., & Mello, L. E. (2015). The pattern of c-Fos expression and its refractory period in the brain of rats and monkeys. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience, 9, 72.
  8. [8] Garbin, B., Dolcemascolo, A., Prati, F., Javaloyes, J., Tissoni, G., & Barland, S. (2017). Publisher's Note: Refractory period of an excitable semiconductor laser with optical injection [Phys. Rev. E 95, 012214 (2017)]. Physical Review E, 95(2), 029901.
  9. [9] Curtis, G. P. (2016). U.S. Patent Application No. 14/695,237.
  10. [10] Wühr, P., & Heuer, H. (2017). How social and refractory is the social psychological refractory period?. Experimental psychology.
Read more about: refractory period sexual health
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