You just got off: Congratulations! I hope it was a good one. But now that you’ve used your ejaculatory burst, you’ve entered the subsequent post-ejaculation holding pattern more commonly known as the refractory period. For some guys, this is a place in time when you may start crying. For others, it’s a time usually spent in the shower… also crying. For others still, it’s simply a period of minutes, hours or even days where you cannot — no matter how hard you try — go again.
According to board-certified urologist Jamin Brahmbhatt, the refractory period is essentially the time after orgasm when your penis becomes flaccid from neural signals telling your body to relax. “Dopamine and testosterone levels drop after the first go,” he says. “The amount of [hormone] prolactin that goes up seems to be the reason for the length of the refractory period.” In other words, the increased prolactin and subsequent lower testosterone are like a double whammy, affecting your drive or motivation to get it up again.
This regeneration period, despite what you’ve read or heard, isn’t unique to men. As my former colleague Tracy Moore notes, “if a refractory period is ‘defined as the length of time during which a male cannot become aroused from any kind of sexual stimulation,’ well, there are plenty of women who can’t get turned on right away again after they get off, even if there’s nothing technically preventing them from having another orgasm in terms of the mechanics of their bodies.” Anatomically speaking, however, your post-boning limpness is unique to the male condition. As such, Brahmbhatt tells me that the male refractory period can be a few minutes to even days. “The period depends on age, how much arousal you get in-between sessions, hormones and your overall health,” he explains.
If, by now, you’re wondering how your refractory period stacks up (or, in this case, shrivels) against the next guy’s, well, Brahmbhatt tells me that studies have found “teenagers can take minutes to recovery, whereas men in their 30 to 40s could take 30 to 60 minutes or longer.” And while there is no hard-and-fast (pun unavoidable) rule on how quickly you’ll recover from your refractory period based on your age alone, he says that typically as you get older, your testosterone levels tend to decrease, which means there’s a strong correlation between getting older and experiencing an extended flop-happy period between sex or masturbatory sessions.
Still, he does have some suggestions as to how men of a certain age, or men with lower testosterone levels, can hack their reboot system. “Get in shape,” he says. “The fitter you are, the better your hormones will be able to regulate themselves.” Another tip (get it?) is to continue being aroused. “After round one, continue foreplay and being stimulated, he says. “The more you’re stimulated, the more likely you are to get ‘up’ again.”
And finally, he says to avoid alcohol, which is a depressant, if you’re planning on a sex marathon. “If you drink, you’re also having to fight the depressant effect on top of the hormonal and physical changes,” he says.
Now, if you’re the sorta fella that needs a bottle of booze to get your initial juices going, there are, of course, certain alternatives brought to you by Big Pharma — even if Brahmbhatt isn’t particularly fond of using them for these specific purposes. “I don’t recommend men take [erectile dysfunction pills] recreationally for this purpose,” he says. “Taking this class of medications can help get you stimulated faster but isn’t indicated for this purpose.”
To that end, he also doesn’t recommend taking supplements — gas station sex pills and the like — as there is no hard science (again, apologies for the unavoidable pun) backing up the proposed claims. “Plus, supplements aren’t FDA regulated, so what you think you’re taking may not be what you’re taking,” he says. One slightly less invasive solution he often suggests using to decrease the refractory period is a penis pump. “You can use a pump to get you up again and then put a ring at the base,” Brahmbhatt explains. “It’s artificial, but it’s a ‘product’ that can be used.”
Not interested in “products”?
Well, Brahmbhatt’s got a suggestion for you, too: Don’t masturbate. “The less you masturbate, especially the day you’re running the bedroom marathon, the more likely you are to sustain on your own in the bedroom,” he says. He adds that changing your environment can’t hurt, either. “Take the marathon to a new place, like a hotel room, or plan for it on vacation,” says Brahmbhatt. “New environments can enhance your level of stimulation.”
In turn, you can expect your refractory period to go from days to, well, hopefully less than an hour.