Refractory Period in Males: Causes, Stages, Timing, and Recovery

Refractory Period in Males: Causes, Stages, Timing, and Recovery
Published : Jun 13, 2024

Immediately after having an orgasm, have you ever lost interest in sexual activity? Well, you are not alone. There is a reason for this, called the Refractory period. After ejaculating, men often experience a refractory period. This is the time when a man loses his interest in sexual intercourse.

What do you mean by Refractory period? 

The refractory period is the time following an orgasm during which a man is not able to experience another orgasm. It is a natural and essential procedure for your body to recover after ejaculation. 

This is when your body undergoes various physiological changes, like the release of the hormone prolactin and the tightening of blood vessels in the male reproductive organ. 

What happens during the refractory period? 

During the refractory period, your body undergoes several physiological changes vital for recovery. For males, the male sexual organ becomes soft because blood vessels contract. The release of prolactin hormone leads to a decrease in sexual needs. 

For females, the clitoris becomes less sensitive, and the vagina comes back to its pre-aroused state. 

Mechanism of refractory period 

In men and women, there are four stages of the sexual response cycle. Enlighten the refractory period in detail:

Stage 1: Desire, excitement or arousal 

Lasting almost for a minute or several hours, the first stage of the sexual response is described by the physical stimulus and chemical procedures, which encourage feelings of arousal and sexual interest. 

Stage 2: Plateau 

The general characteristics of the plateau phase continue until the orgasm is achieved. This stage often improves the symptoms that are experienced in phase one.

Stage 3: Orgasm 

The orgasm signifies the peak of the sexual response cycle. During this stage, the achievement of an orgasm aligns the shortest of all four phases, lasting for a few seconds.

Stage 4: Resolution

The resolutionThe resolution stage is also called the refractory period, in which your body slowly starts to resume its normal level of function. During this period, your swollen and erect body parts return to their normal color and size. 

Refractory period: How long does it last? 

 The length of the refractory period differs depending on the person. During the refractory period, a man is not able to get an erection or ejaculate again. 

The refractory period can last from a few minutes to 24 hours or more in males. 

Physically, most females can indulge in sexual activity again soon after orgasm and do not have any physical limiting changes like males. 

However, the refractory period can vary depending on the individual and numerous factors like sexual activity, age, and health. Hormonal imbalances, stress levels, and medicine use can also affect it. 

Factors that influence the refractory period 

Several factors affect the refractory period, including:


Generally, younger males tend to recover and reengage in sexual intercourse soon after ejaculation than older males. While younger males require only a few minutes of recovery time, older men can have a refractory period of 12 to 24 hours.

General Health 

Having good health or poor health affects your overall sexual stamina and fitness.

Medical disorders

Medical disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes can affect your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for regulating involuntary functions such as sexual response.  

Sexual dysfunction 

Disorders such as premature ejaculation or delayed ejaculation can weaken the sexual confidence of a person. This indirectly affects the refractory period. 

Is it possible to shorten the refractory period?

Though the refractory period is a natural and vital process, there are some effective ways to decrease its duration. 

You can engage in foreplay and concentrate on other erogenous zones before indulging in sexual intercourse. This aids in building up sexual tension and increases the likelihood of reaching orgasm quickly. 

Apart from this, you can also practice pelvic floor exercises like Kegels, which will strengthen the muscles responsible for controlling ejaculation and decrease the duration of your refractory period. 

Some supplements, such as L-arginine and ginseng, show positive results in reducing the refractory period in some individuals. Make sure to speak with a healthcare provider first and then take supplements accordingly. 


Thus, the refractory period is a natural part of the sexual response cycle for men and women. You might feel frustrated, but there are several ways to shorten the refractory period and enjoy sexual life to the fullest. Always take care of your overall health, exercise regularly, and follow a balanced diet to enjoy good sexual health.