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Refractory Period: Why aren’t you Ready for the Second Round?

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One of the most daunting parts of sharing sexual intimacy with someone can be right after ejaculation. Especially when your partner is still trying to stimulate you, but you just can’t. It can be embarrassing, but there is a medical explanation.

So let’s discuss the refractory period in detail.

What is a Refractory Period?

The period of post-ejaculation where a man cannot get aroused again, both physiologically and psychologically, is called the refractory period.

It is the time taken by the penis to regain its firmness before the next round of sexual intercourse. During the refractory period, the action potential of an individual is almost negligible.

This period varies in every individual, but it does happen in every man.

Some doubt whether it is unusual. However, the phenomenon is common among all men.

Therefore, it is essential to educate yourself to avoid confusing the phenomenon with medical conditions like erectile dysfunction

Different factors affect the sexual response cycle in men differently. Therefore, the time taken to reattain the state of being sexually aroused varies from person to person. 

What Is The Mechanism Behind the Refractory Period?

Four stages of the sexual response cycle explain the refractory period in men and women:-

  • Excitement: The initial phase of sexual intercourse starts with faster breathing and tensed muscles with increased blood flow in genital organs.
  • Plateau: During this phase of sexual function, the muscles of genital areas start to tense. Consequently, testicles will begin to pull up against the body. While in the case of the vagina, the clitoris will retract under the clitoral hood.
  • Orgasm: In this phase, your muscles contract and release tension, making your body flush and red. The pelvic muscles of the penis will begin to contract, which helps the body to ejaculate.
  • Resolution: During this phase, muscles will start to relax, lowering the blood pressure and heartbeat, making the body less responsive to sexual stimulation. This is the time when the refractory period begins.

Absolute vs Relative Refractory Period

Now that we have talked about how the refractory period works, let’s discuss its types. It is of two kinds- the absolute refractory period and the relative refractory period.

The period immediately after orgasm is called the absolute refractory period. It is when it is almost impossible for the body and mind to get sexually aroused again.

During the absolute refractory period, the action potential is the lowest.

On the other hand, the period right after the absolute refractory period is called the relative refractory period.

During the relative refractory period, the body steps into the recovery time, and the potential for intercourse begin to build up again.

Therefore, it is possible to go for another round during the relative refractory period but only through rigorous stimulation.

Why do guys feel tired after ejaculating?

It is common for men to fall asleep after ejaculating. But why? The answer, again, lies in medical science. The male human body undergoes a myriad of chemical changes after orgasm.

For example, the body starts secreting biochemical prolactin after ejaculation, which leads to exhaustion and drowsiness after sexual intercourse. 

What triggers refractory periods?

To understand why men have a refractory period, you need to understand what happens with men after ejaculation. 

The changes occurring in your body are responsible for the refractory periods.

For example, after ejaculation during sexual intercourse, the penis becomes flaccid, indicating a neutral signal telling your body to relax, says Jamin Brahmbhatt, MD, Urologist at Orlando Health and Assistant Professor at UCF College of Medicine.

Additionally, the dopamine and testosterone level decreases; consequently, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland called prolactin rises. The rise in the prolactin level with a reduction in testosterone makes the penis flaccid just after sexual intercourse.

This eliminates the state of being sexually aroused and, therefore, any potential for sexual function.  

The refractory period and the action potential vary among men and women. Morse adds by saying women are designed so that they have a much shorter rebound time period than men. As a result, they can have multiple orgasms.

However, this doesn’t mean they want to.

What is a typical refractory period?

The refractory period varies in every man. Some men take less than an hour, while some may restore to pre-ejaculation level in seconds. For others, the recovery time may span for a whole day.

Another factor that influences the refractory period is the personal experience of sexual intercourse.

For example, a man may take hours to attain a firm erection, while the other day, he might achieve an erection in seconds.

Age also influences the refractory period. The arousal before sexual intercourse, hormones composition, and the person’s overall health plays an active role in defining the refractory period.

Unfortunately, it is very common to confuse this with erectile dysfunction at growing age. 

For example, teenagers take seconds to get sexually aroused, while men between 30 and 40 may take minutes or hours to achieve an erection or indulge in sexual function. 

How To Shorten The Refractory Period?

It is always better to give your body time to relax before another sexual function. However, there are a few things that will help you to shorten your refractory period.

Increasing the arousal fastest will allow men to come back into the game.

There are different ways to improve arousal, such as trying a toy, talking dirty, or having oral sex. Remember, minor changes make significant differences in bed. 

Getting into better shape is another good piece of advice on how to last longer for men. The more fit you are, the shorter will be your refractory period.

Thus, both men and women can reduce their time period by working out regularly or abandoning a desultory lifestyle. 

If you are looking for any medical advice, you can go for supplements that claim to make the penis hard and erect for a more extended period.

However, the FDA does not approve such supplements for sexual functions; instead, one can use a manual penile pump or natural ways to reduce refractory periods. But consult a professional for medical advice before taking this route. 

You can also masturbate before sexual intercourse if your refractory period is too long. Doing this will allow you to sustain the erection for longer and increase the pleasure. 

A different sex schedule will have a different refractory index. Therefore, make sure you perform sexual intercourse according to your timing if you want to go multiple rounds or be regular with your sex schedule.

Being regular will help your body adapt to the timing and start functioning and producing essential hormones for a firm erection accordingly.

How Can I Boost My Refractory Period?

In general, there are many ways to last longer and shorten your refractory period, such as:-

  • Practice kegel exercise: Regular practicing kegel exercise will help you strengthen your genital organs, improving your sexual activity, therefore, allowing you to shorten the time. 
  • Avoid drinking alcohol before sexual intercourse: Consuming alcohol can interfere with the cardiac functions responsible for arousal. Therefore, avoid consuming alcohol just before having sexual intercourse. This will help you last longer. Avoiding alcohol also helps men cure conditions like erectile dysfunction. 
  • Keep yourself fit and eat healthy: Physical activity and a healthy diet are the best possible way to reduce the time period naturally.

You can also check out our guide on exercises to increase stamina for better sexual intimacy.

Now that we have solved the puzzle of the refractory period for you, here are some bonus answers to frequently asked questions on another round.

How many times can a man release sperm in a day?

There is no definite answer to this question. According to studies, a man can ejaculate 1-5 times each session. Frequent ejaculation is not detrimental to your health or sex drive.

In fact, Harvard Medical School suggests that ejaculating 21 times a month decreases the chances of developing prostate cancer by 31%. 

How many rounds can a woman go per night?

Women have a shorter refractory period than men and can come around four to five times in a single session. However, women take longer than men to reach the climax, usually 45-50 minutes.

Therefore, with the proper sexual stimulation, women indulge 3 to 4 times a night in sexual function. 

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Photo of author Janet Fudge
Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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