After sex, have you ever noticed that it’s difficult or impossible to get hard again? Not only is it often physically difficult to go for round two immediately — you may simply not feel in the mood for sex for anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.
This is caused by something called the refractory period — a period of time that occurs after you have sex in which you aren’t psychologically or physically interested in sexual activity.
During the refractory period, you typically won’t have very many sexual thoughts. Even if your partner tries to sexually stimulate you, you probably won’t notice much of a physical response from your body.
The total duration of your refractory period can vary depending on a number of factors, one of which is your age. Although scientific research into shortening the refractory period is limited, some medications, such as Viagra and Cialis, may help you to recover faster.
Below, we’ve explained what the refractory period is, why it happens and how long it normally lasts. We’ve also looked at the current scientific research to explain what you might be able to do to shorten your refractory period and have sex for a second time without the usual wait.
The refractory period is the period of time that starts after you orgasm and ejaculate during sexual intercourse or masturbation.
During sex or masturbation, you’ll usually have strongly sexual thoughts. You’ll be stimulated, aroused and “in the mood.” From a physical perspective, you’ll generally have an erection for most or all of the time you spend engaging in sexual activity.
After you orgasm and ejaculate, your penis becomes flaccid and your level of interest in sex usually goes from intense to virtually non-existent. During this period, you won’t get aroused, nor will you spend much time thinking about sexual activity.
The refractory period is sometimes referred to as the “resolution” phase of the body’s sexual response cycle. This cycle has four phases:
Currently, researchers aren’t exactly sure of why the refractory period happens in men, or the specific biological processes that cause it.
One theory is that a variety of hormones released during and after orgasm, including oxytocin, prolactin and others, all play certain roles in limiting arousal and preventing erection during the refractory period.
Interestingly, some of these hormones, such as prolactin, are released in greater amounts after sexual intercourse than after masturbation.
In simple terms, experts aren’t yet totally sure of why the refractory period happens. However, they do know how long this period lasts isn’t related to factors such as your testosterone production, performance during sex or potency in general.
The refractory period can vary in time from one man to another. Some men might have a short refractory period that only lasts for a few minutes, while others might not feel interested in sex for several hours after orgasm and ejaculation.
If you’re an older man, it may take anywhere from 12 to 24 hours before you feel interested in and physically ready to have sex again.
Since carrying out scientific research on the average refractory period isn’t particularly easy — imagine asking hundreds of couples to monitor the amount of time that passes between round one and two — there’s no precise “average” time available for this particular aspect of sex.
If you search online for advice on shortening your refractory period and recovering faster after sex, you’ll likely find a variety of theories and products promising amazing results.
Many of these are based more on hearsay than actual science. Although they may be effective for some people, there’s no guarantee that they’ll work for you.
The reality is that because we don’t know much about how or exactly why the refractory period occurs, there are very few proven strategies for shortening your refractory period and getting ready for sex faster after you orgasm.
With this said, there’s some scientific evidence that erectile dysfunction (ED) medications such as sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and others might shorten the male refractory period.
For example, a study published in 2000 looked at the effects of sildenafil on 20 men’s recovery time after sex. The men were divided into two groups, with the men in one group receiving a placebo and the men in the other a 100mg dose of sildenafil.
The men who received the sildenafil had a significantly shorter post-ejaculatory refractory time (2.6 ± 0.7 minutes) than the men who were given the placebo (10.8 ± 0.9 minutes).
A different study of men with premature ejaculation (PE) produced similar results. In the study, men were given either sildenafil or a placebo in an effort to see if sildenafil would help to reduce the severity of their premature ejaculation symptoms.
Although sildenafil didn’t significantly improve ejaculatory latency (time to ejaculation), the men in the sildenafil group had an average post-ejaculation refractory time of around half that of the men in the placebo group.
Other research has produced different results. For example, a 2005 study published in Urology concluded that while sildenafil has certain benefits for sexual performance, it doesn’t appear to shorten the refractory period after ejaculation.
Sildenafil, tadalafil and other ED medications require a doctor’s prescription. We offer several ED medications online following an online consultation with a physician who will determine if a prescription is appropriate.
Beyond using erectile dysfunction medications like sildenafil or tadalafil, making certain other changes to your habits and lifestyle might help to shorten your refractory period and enhance your sexual performance:
It’s perfectly normal to lose interest in sex and have difficulty getting an erection right after you orgasm and ejaculate.
The refractory period varies from one man to another, meaning it might take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours for you to recover after sex. If you’re in your 40s, 50s or older, it may even take the better part of one day before you feel ready to have sex again.
If you’re concerned about your refractory period, talk to your healthcare provider. While there’s no medication specifically for shortening the refractory period, ED medications like sildenafil or tadalafil may help you to improve your general sexual performance and recover faster.