What is the Refractory Period?

The refractory period indicates the amount of time a person needs to get sexually aroused again after having an orgasm. This period varies depending upon the biological sex of a person, but can also vary from one individual to another. The differences are stark – while some may have a refractory period lasting a few minutes, others may need hours.

Refractory periods for biological females tend to be shorter, however, it is best to not generalize the response a person may have. Typically those who are biologically male tend to have a longer refractory period. It is physically impossible for biological males to respond to sexual stimuli during the refractory period.

It is possible to lessen the time needed for the refractory period. According to medical experts at Hisblue, the methods can range from lifestyle changes to taking ED medication. Additionally, according to researchers Masters and Johnson, the four stages of the sexual response cycle are:

  • excitement,
  • plateau,
  • orgasm, and

The reason why biological males are unable to respond to stimuli during the refractory period can be explained by taking a closer look at the biological processes. During ejaculation, a hormone called prolactin is released in the brain. Prolactin makes the person sleepy, as the hormone is also associated with sleep. Furthermore, prolactin suppresses testosterone which leads to a lessened sex drive. The prolactin level declines slowly as the refractory period ends.

Factors that Affect the Refractory Period

Age: Changes in the refractory period can also be related to a person’s age. As men age, they will experience changes in their sexual response cycles. Along with that, the levels of sexual desire and the longevity of erections may also change. These changes will no doubt affect the person’s libido. The refractory period gets affected with age. As one grows older, the refractory period can become longer.

Cardiovascular health: In general, sexual health greatly depends upon a person’s overall health and well being. In particular, however, cardiovascular health can affect a person’s sexual performance and health. Libido and the length of refractory periods both depend upon cardiovascular health. If a person is fit and healthy, there is a greater chance for the blood to flow more readily. It is important to have a healthy heart and properly functioning blood vessels.

Relationship: As mentioned earlier, individual differences can affect refractory periods. As Seth Cohen, a urologist at NYU Langone Health states: “Your refractory period can change day to day, week to week, and of course partner to partner”. It is important to be attracted to the person that one is engaging in sexual activity with.

Sexual arousal: Another factor that is important is the arousal level. A good libido can lead to a shorter refractory period. However, there can be discrepancies and differences on a case-by-case basis. Even people in committed and healthy relationships can have problems with the refractory period or can have multiple sessions in a short period of time; all of it depends upon the individuals themselves.

Environmental factors: There are multiple other factors that can affect the refractory period. Most of it deals with the immediate environment of a person or their state of mind. Testosterone levels and blood flow are all important factors, however, if someone is in the wrong state of mind (distracted, anxious) or if they are tired after some former strenuous activity, it can be difficult to get aroused again. These environmental factors must be considered when looking at the length of refractory periods.

How can the Refractory Period be Shortened?

Some research suggests that the refractory period can be shortened by the use of various medications. The use of Poxet 60 mg, a fast-acting SSRI, can increase the longevity of erections and enhance sexual performance.

There are medications, known as PDE5 inhibitors, which suppress the PDE5 enzyme that is responsible for getting rid of erections. When the PDE5 inhibitor starts working, the blood vessels stay dilated. This results in erections that are prolonged or they can make it easier to get an erection to begin with. The theory is that since the ED medications stay in the bloodstream for a few hours, it can result in a shortened refractory period.

However, as mentioned earlier, the best way to ensure prolonged and frequent erections is to stay healthy. There are multiple ways to ensure that, including but not limited to: regular exercise, maintaining healthy body weight, healthy blood pressure, avoiding tobacco consumption, and moderating alcohol consumption. All of these can lead to improved sex life, including a reduced refractory period.

Boosting overall health:

  1. Getting into shape and maintaining a healthy body weight will help hormones regulate themselves more efficiently. This will ultimately result in a shortened refractory period.
  2. A big part of staying healthy is to eat healthy. A good diet will also increase the blood flow in the body. It is also essential to stay hydrated. Salmon, citrus, and nuts are some food items that one should incorporate into their diet to increase blood flow.
  3. Exercising for half an hour a day will help keep the cholesterol levels at a minimum and regulate the blood pressure.

Boosting arousal levels:

There are a few methods to ensure a lower refractory period through an increase in the libido.

  1. Refrain from masturbating prior to engaging in sexual activity.
  2. Change the number of times one engages in sexual activity.
  3. Experiment with various positions according to the comfort of the partner.
  4. Engage with the erogenous zones in the body.

Boosting sexual function:

  1. Kegel exercises: Practicing Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. This will lead to greater support for the uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum. Strengthening pelvic muscles may also result in more control over ejaculation and a reduced refractory period.
  2. Avoid alcohol consumption: It is suggested that one avoids drinking alcohol before engaging in sexual activity. Alcohol can interfere with the cardiac functioning of the body. This results in an interruption of the necessary functions for arousal.
  3. Consult a physician regarding erectile dysfunction (ED) medications. These can help a person by relaxing pelvic muscles and improving blood flow. Individual results may vary, however, and it is best to go according to the advice of doctors. Therefore, one should consider consulting a therapist or physician with a specialization in sexual health.


The refractory period of an individual comes down to a number of unique factors. It is essential to keep in mind that everyone has a different refractory period. Even the same individual may have different refractory periods during different sessions. As mentioned above, environmental and health factors can have an impact on the refractory period.

Some of these factors can be changed. Things such as alcohol consumption and nutrition intake can be controlled and regulated. However, any chronic conditions or complications brought about by the process of aging cannot be controlled. If the concern regarding the refractory period is severe, it is better to consult a specialist who engages in matters of sexual health. They can provide alternate solutions, suggest lifestyle changes, or even help pinpoint specific underlying conditions (should there be any).

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