After orgasm, most men need some downtime in order to rest, recover and regain an interest in sexual activity. This time is called the refractory period -- a period in which you switch from being actively excited by sexual activity to feeling somewhat disinterested in sex.
Both men and women experience a refractory period after orgasm. However, the male refractory period is the most physically obvious of the two, as most men physically can’t get an erection in this period.
The length of the refractory period varies dramatically between men, with some guys needing a few minutes to “recover” from sexual activity and others needing anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
One factor that’s closely linked to refractory period is age. Most of the time, younger men tend to have shorter refractory periods than older men (in some cases, just a few minutes), although the link between age and refractory period isn’t very precise.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs like sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil have long been rumored to shorten the refractory period in men, potentially letting you have sex sooner after orgasm. While most aspects of ED drugs have been extensively studied, there isn’t a lot of scientific evidence to back up this particular claim.
In this guide, we’ll look at the scientific evidence behind the claim that ED drugs can shorten the refractory period, as well as the mechanisms by which ED medications can potentially improve post-orgasm recovery.
Scientific Studies of ED Drugs and the Refractory Period
Scientific studies on ED drugs like sildenafil show mixed results when it comes to shortening the male refractory period and speeding up recovery from sex.
One study from 2000 found that normal men aged 28-37 without erectile dysfunction showed a significant decrease in the amount of time required to recover after sex when taking sildenafil citrate (Viagra). Researchers measured the amount of time required to regain an erection after sexual activity, noting an improvement in the sildenafil citrate group compared to placebo.
Another study used self-reported data to analyze the effects of sildenafil on men aged from 41 to 57. Of the nine men that took part in the study, four noticed that their refractory period after sexual activity was shorter than normal.
There’s also a study from 2005 on the effects of sildenafil on men with premature ejaculation, which found that sildenafil almost halved the amount of time required for men to recover after sex (from 6.4 +/- 0.7 minutes to 3.2 +/- 0.7).
Other studies, however, seem to refute these findings. A 2005 study on the effects of sildenafil citrate on ejaculation latency and refractory period found that while sildenafil prolongs the time required to ejaculate (ejaculation latency), it doesn’t have any effect on the refractory period.
How Sildenafil Could Affect Post-Orgasm Recovery
Sildenafil is a phosphodiesterase type 5, or PDE5, inhibitor -- a type of drug that directly blocks the enzyme responsible for accepting and breaking down cyclic guanosine monophosphate, or cGMP.
cGMP is one of several essential chemicals for developing an erection. Normally, after sex, the body has low levels of cGMP as a result of PDE5 breaking down the chemical. This means it’s more physically difficult to get an erection -- after all, the necessary chemical just isn’t there.
Because sildenafil and other ED medications block PDE5, less cGMP is broken down after sex, meaning there’s much less of a biological barrier preventing you from getting an erection again after you orgasm.
In simple terms, the same mechanism that makes sildenafil so effective at helping you prepare for round one could also make it a helpful medicinal shortcut in preparing for round two.
Do ED Medications Shorten the Refractory Period?
Right now, the scientific evidence supporting sildenafil as a medication for shortening the male refractory is mixed but promising. Most studies show it works (with one study showing a major reduction in post-sex recovery time), although one shows no real improvement.
The science behind sildenafil’s role in shortening the refractory period also makes sense -- after all, it directly targets the enzyme responsible for regulating blood flow to the penis.
So, should you view sildenafil as a miracle medication for helping you go straight onto round two after orgasm? Not quite. Even though some study data -- as well as numerous anecdotal reports from sildenafil users -- certainly suggest it could be useful for speeding up post-orgasm recovery it’s not an approved use for sildenafil or other ED drugs.
ED medications are prescribed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction which is the inability to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sexual activity. Erectile dysfunction drugs like sildenafil (Viagra) are not approved for men who do not suffer from ED and will not be prescribed by a doctor unless necessary.
Important Safety Information
IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION
Do not take Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) if you:
- take any medicines called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators like Adempas (riociguat) for pulmonary hypertension. Your blood pressure could drop to an unsafe level
are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in Sildenafil and REVATIO, or any of the ingredients in Sildenafil
Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for sex. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or nausea during sex, seek immediate medical help
Sildenafil can cause serious side effects. Rarely reported side effects include:
- an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get medical help right away. If it is not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage your penis
- sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious eye problem called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). Stop taking Sildenafil and call your healthcare provider right away if you have any sudden vision loss
sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss. Some people may also have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. If you have these symptoms, stop taking Sildenafil and contact a doctor right away
Before you take Sildenafil, tell your healthcare provider if you:
- have or have had heart problems such as a heart attack, irregular heartbeat, angina, chest pain, narrowing of the aortic valve, or heart failure
- have had heart surgery within the last 6 months
- have pulmonary hypertension
- have had a stroke
- have low blood pressure, or high blood pressure that is not controlled
- have a deformed penis shape
- have had an erection that lasted for more than 4 hours
- have problems with your blood cells such as sickle cell anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
- have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families) eye disease
- have ever had severe vision loss, including an eye problem called NAION
- have bleeding problems
- have or have had stomach ulcers
- have liver problems
have kidney problems or are having kidney dialysis have any other medical conditions
Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Sildenafil may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way Sildenafil works, causing side effects. Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:
- medicines called nitrates
- medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas (riociguat)
- medicines called alpha-blockers such as Hytrin (terazosin HCl), Flomax (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura (doxazosin mesylate), Minipress (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral (alfuzosin HCl), Jalyn (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl), or Rapaflo (silodosin). Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate problems or high blood pressure. In some patients, the use of Sildenafil with alpha-blockers can lead to a drop in blood pressure or to fainting
- medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir), indinavir sulfate (Crixivan), saquinavir (Fortovase or Invirase), or atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz)
- some types of oral antifungal medicines, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox)
- some types of antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin), telithromycin (Ketek), or erythromycin
- other medicines that treat high blood pressure
- other medicines or treatments for ED
Sildenafil contains sildenafil, which is the same medicine found in another drug called REVATIO. REVATIO is used to treat a rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). Sildenafil should not be used with REVATIO or with other PAH treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors (such as Adcirca tadalafil)
Sildenafil does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
The most common side effects of Sildenafil: headache; flushing; upset stomach; abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision (such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision; stuffy or runny nose; back pain; muscle pain; nausea; dizziness; rash.
Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) is prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).
Sildenafil is not for women or children.