Think about this: You are, panting, sweating, and prepared for round two in bed with your partner; your brain is ready to rock, but your body isn’t prepared for it. Have you considered why you lack the limitless energy required to keep up with your brain's hypersexual pace? There is a name for this cosmic-level dissatisfaction: the refractory period.
What is the refractory period? And why is it the sexual desire's natural foe? Continue reading to know the answers.
What's The Refractory Period?
You enter the refractory period (resolution phase) right after the sexual climax. It describes the duration between having an orgasm and feeling ready to be sexually stimulated once again. You won't feel aroused or think of engaging in sexual activities during this period.
Does Everyone Have One?
Yes, absolutely. According to Masters and Johnson's Four-Phase Model, a four-stage sexual response cycle includes the refractory phase, which is experienced by everyone. It is not only limited to men or women.
Here are the four phases:
- Excitement: During this phase, your heart rate gets faster, your breathing rate increases, and your muscles tense. Simultaneously, blood flow increases toward your genitals.
- Plateau: During this phase, your muscles continue to get tense. In men, the penis begins to pull up against the body. In women, the clitoris (pleasure centre in the female reproductive system) retracts under the clitoral hood.
- Orgasm: In this phase, your body gets red flushed as muscles tighten and release tension. In men, the pelvic muscles contract, helping them ejaculate.
- Resolution: In this phase, your heart rate and blood pressure begin to slow down, your muscles begin to relax, and your body becomes less receptive to sexual stimulation. The refractory period starts at this point.
What is The Absolute Refractory Period?
The absolute refractory period is when the neuron cannot send any further action potentials (signals to act). This is due to the shutting down of voltage-gated sodium channels. These channels do not open for a brief period. Thus, during the absolute refractory period, you don't feel aroused or sexually stimulated, no matter how significant stimulation is applied.
Refractory Period Heart
The refractory period heart helps it beat in a controlled and regular rhythm. Even with the stimulus, your heart cells cannot initiate another action potential during the refractory period. This is due to blocked sodium channels, and it helps to maintain a normal heart rhythm.
Absolute and Relative Refractory Period
So by now, you know what is refractory period. This refractory period is classified into two subcategories.
1) Absolute refractory period
The absolute refractory period is the first phase of the refractory period. This is a small duration during which another response cannot be produced, even with the stimulus of maximum strength. During the absolute refractory period, neurons cannot receive or transmit stimulus. Due to open and active sodium channels, the cell membranes (outer layer of the cells) do not respond.
Simply put, even with solid stimulation, your body cannot be aroused sexually in an absolute refractory period.
2) Relative refractory period
The relative refractory period is the second phase that follows the absolute refractory phase. During this phase, the sodium channels are closing. A more potent stimulus is needed to open the closed channels in this phase.
To put it in simple words, in a relative refractory period, your body can be sexually aroused but with much stronger sexual stimulation.
Also Read: 12 Signs Your Period Is Coming Tomorrow
Men Refractory Period
Generally, men do not get an erection and cannot ejaculate during the refractory period. This physical response is followed by a psychological refractory phase in which the man is uninterested in sex.
Men's refractory period might last from a few minutes to 24 hours or longer, varying from man to man. Furthermore, not all males experience a refractory period.
As per a study report, a 25-year-old man who had never experienced a refractory period did not secrete prolactin after ejaculating as most men do. This finding indicates that prolactin plays a significant role in a man's ability to experience numerous orgasms.
As per another study, the peptide somatostatin lowers sexual excitement immediately following ejaculation. Thus, this may explain the prolonged refractory period that guys usually have.
Also, some men can experience orgasms without ejaculating. That means they can feel multiple "dry" orgasms with no refractory phase.
Refractory Period Women
Women lose interest in sexual activity after experiencing orgasms, but they can engage in sexual activity physically. As per one study, a woman's clitoris may become too sensitive to engage in further sex after orgasm. 96% of the 174 female participants in this study reported this symptom, and many expressed a lack of interest in indulging in sexual activity. This response is considered a refractory period for women where arousal and orgasms are difficult.
How Age Affects The Refractory Period
Sexual function and desires decline as you age. With age, men and women may take longer to feel physically and psychologically aroused. In fact, couples need more time to rebound following sex, which could result in a longer refractory period.
Changes in your refractory period are also based on how long it was while you were young. A person with a long refractory period in his teenage may continue to have longer with ageing.
Younger men recover more quickly from ejaculation and reengage in sexual activity than older men. Men’s refractory period of 12 to 24 hours is needed in older males, while young men might only need a few minutes. Some people's refractory phase can go on for several days.
In men, the pressure in the seminal vesicles (the glands that produce and store semen) plays a prime role in ejaculation. Typically, this pressure declines after each orgasm and ejaculation. As men age, hormones decrease; thus, it takes more time to produce semen and rebuild the pressure needed for another ejaculation.
How Long Will It Last?
Now that you know the how and why, we can discuss the more important issue: how long does that fourth phase last?
Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this because the length of the refractory period varies from person to person. Some people could experience a brief refractory period that lasts a few minutes, while others might not feel like having sex for several hours following orgasm and ejaculation.
However, as a thumb rule, the men's refractory period is often longer than the refractory period for women. As a result, men typically have to wait for a few minutes to a few hours before they can ejaculate again, while women typically have to wait for a few seconds to a few minutes.
Factors Affecting The Refractory Period
The hard-hitting truth: every person is unique, and so is their capacity for sexual activity. Here are ten factors present in the equation of a refractory period action potential:
Younger men may need a few minutes to recover after sex. Older men may need up to 12 to 24 hours to recover.
2) Heart health:
The key to erections is proper blood flow. Blood pours into the soft, sponge-like tissue of your penis when you are sexually stimulated, causing it to erect.
3) General health:
Your sexual fitness and endurance are affected by your general health.
This is a chemical released in the brain that plays a significant function in your sexual activity. Lowered dopamine secretion can affect your refractory period.
5) Medical conditions:
The part of your nervous system that controls involuntary functions like arousal can be affected by disorders like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.
6) Sexual dysfunction:
Issues like delayed or early ejaculation can reduce a person's sexual confidence. Thus indirectly impacting the refractory time.
7) Sexual quality and frequency:
Your ability to respond to sexual stimuli is influenced by the quality and frequency you enjoy sex. This, in turn, may affect the refractory period in both men and women.
8) The number of sexual partners:
As per the study, men having several or new sex partners recovered more quickly and experienced multiple orgasms.
9) Mental health:
Mental disorders like postcoital dysphoria ( a psychiatric illness where women feel exhausted, sad, or depressed after having sex) or Sexual performance anxiety in men can also have an indirect impact on the refractory period.
10) The arousal component:
You can feel ready to have sex again quickly if you want it. However, it could take longer to feel prepared for round two if you are simply not in the mood.
What's The Average Refractory Period by Sex and Age
There are no precise numbers for this. It varies from person to person depending on several variables, such as general health, health issues, age, libido, and food.
It can take a short while, a few minutes, an hour or more, a day or even longer. As per average statistics for females, it may just take a few seconds for sexual arousal and orgasm to be feasible once more. However, there is a lot more variation in men.
As per a study, sexual function begins to decline around 40 years in both men and women.
Can You Shorten the Refractory Period?
The refractory period is just the time following an orgasm when you temporarily lose the ability for sex. Yet, people link sexual pleasure to their orgasm intensity, the length of their intercourse, and how frequently they ejaculate or have orgasms.
There are no foolproof methods to shorten the refractory period. However, some lifestyle modifications can improve your sexual health and eliminate blocks to a "second round" of sex. This includes:
- Regular exercise can improve your heart health, libido, and sexual performance in both men and women.
- Sexual fantasy, which increases desire in females and orgasms in males.
What is the Refractory Period?
Ans. The interval after an orgasm, when a person is not sexually responsive, is known as the refractory period. A person can feel a lack of interest in having sex or not be able to have it during the refractory period. It might last anywhere between a few minutes and several days.
How Long is a Refractory Period for a Man?
Ans. The duration of the refractory period varies from man to man, so there isn't a single, conclusive answer to this question.
However, the men's refractory period is typically longer than the refractory period for women. As a result, men often have to wait anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours before they may ejaculate again.
What is an Example of a Refractory Period?
Here is an example of a refractory period. Suppose you are talking on the phone while driving. The traffic in front of you stops suddenly. So, it will take longer for you to respond over the phone while putting breaks in your vehicle. The refractory period here is the time when the task of talking disturbs due to the abrupt stopping of your car. The breaks here are refractory period action potential blocks.
Is There a Refractory Period at Age 30?
Ans. Teenage boys can experience refractory periods of a few minutes. For example, a 30-year-old man usually cannot have a second orgasm for at least half an hour. Men over 50 years of age and older may only be able to have one orgasm each day.
What are the Two Parts of the Refractory Period?
The two parts of the refractory period are
- The absolute refractory period
- The relative refractory period
The absolute and relative refractory periods are the normal physiological responses in sexual activity.
Does Viagra Reduce Refractory Period?
Ans. Studies have shown that erectile dysfunction drugs like sildenafil (brand name Viagra) help decrease the refractory period. During a study, 40% of the male participants of an average of 32 years experienced shortened refractory time. It was cut down by 9.4 minutes, from a median length of 14.9 minutes to 5.5 minutes.