Can you shorten your refractory period?

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From the time your voice first breaks to the point at which sex has become less of a mystical holy grail of manhood and more of an intimate act of love (and often well beyond that), most men invest at least some thought in their sexual performance and how they may be able to enhance it for themselves and their partners. 

However, as puberty takes its course and we are subjected to sexual education and sexually charged media, we soon realize that there are a number of differences between the sexual dynamics of men and women that could seemingly throw a wrench into the works.

The refractory period is one such difference, and it’s one that this article is going to explore in some detail before digging into whether it is actually possible to shorten it.

What Is The Refractory Period?

Anyone who has ever had an orgasm knows that there is a brief period of time after climax when it is impossible to have another orgasm. This is known as the refractory period – the period of time immediately after an orgasm during which you are physically unable to climax again. During this time, the body is generally still releasing hormones and chemicals associated with sexual arousal and the physiological mechanism behind sexual climaxing, and there’s also always a need for the relevant biochemical microcosms to recover and replenish before you can become aroused and orgasm again.

The reason many men tend to ponder the concept is that there is a clear gender divide where the period is concerned: while women can experience multiple back-to-back orgasms without issue, men generally stop being aroused (and thus erect) immediately after ejaculation, and find that they are largely unable to regain arousal for some time. This directly clashes with the common fantasy of multiple orgasms and back-to-back sexual acts that are sometimes depicted in pornography or joked about in popular media.

The time frame for this recovery period depends on a lot of factors that can vary from person to person, but the average male has a recovery period of around half an hour, and younger and healthier men generally experience a quicker recovery of around 15 minutes. Though very rare, some men also experience no refractory period at all, but multiple organisms taking place within a short (less than 30 minute) period of time is largely inconsistent outside of states of unusually high arousal.

What Causes The Refractory Period?

There is no single definitive reason for the male refractory period, but rather a number of different mechanisms that are theorized to contribute to it. The most impactful of these stems from the fact that ejaculation is accompanied by an increased infusion of oxytocin, with studies showing that the amount of oxytocin released appears to correlate with the duration of the male refractory period. 

A close second is a relationship between dopamine – the neurotransmitter popularly characterized as the “happiness molecule” – and prolactin, the protein that facilitates sexual arousal: Dopamine is released in abundance during climax and biochemically suppresses prolactin, meaning that as our dopamine levels increase, our prolactin (and thus our sexual arousal) drops.

Some theories also suggest that the refractory period isn’t the result of the relationships and dynamics of the biochemical compounds released during orgasmic experiences, but rather that it is a physiological consequence of peripheral feedback mechanisms in the autonomic nervous system – the part of our nervous system responsible for things we don’t generally do consciously, like breathing.

Can The Refractory Period Be Modified?

While there are few to no studies of refractory period modification, there are documented cases of refractory periods changing as a result of lifestyle changes and medical conditions, and a broad consensus among sexologists appears to suggest that – to some extent, for some people – the answer may really be as simple as having to be particularly aroused.

However, academic literature on the subject seems fairly united in saying that though the male refractory period can in fact be shortened, it is also impossible to remove or skip entirely, and there are foundational elements of how the male reproductive system ages that represent hurdles we struggle to overcome, such as the fact that physical and psychological arousal takes longer and longer as the aging process proceeds.

How Can You Modify Your Refractory Period?

Men’s refractory periods are certainly not static – as mentioned earlier, their duration changes as men age and undergo certain lifestyle changes, with healthier men generally tending to have shorter refractory periods. Making changes to your daily life that lead to increased physical fitness, such as working out, maintaining a nutritionally and calorically sensible (and ideally plant-based) diet, and cutting down on recreational drug use are all legitimate ways to shorten your sexual downtime.

Beyond that – since the biochemistry of refractory periods is largely a matter of restoring balance to a system of chemical interactions that have functionally locked itself, it is possible to simply become so incredibly aroused that the lock is broken and the male body cooperates after all. Sexologists specifically suggest that novelty is helpful here – doing something different, like trying out a toy, talking dirty if you usually don’t, or talking dirtier if you usually do can all prove surprisingly effective in triggering an erection response and setting things back into motion.

Experts generally hesitate to recommend supplements like those often pushed in online advertisements though, as there is a distinct lack of studies proving their efficacy, and the lack of FDA regulation where supplements are concerned means that the actual contents of what you may be putting in your body could be obscured or even be incorrect.

What Can You Do While You Wait for the Refractory Period to End?

If you are waiting for the refractory period to end, you may want to consider engaging in other sexual activities, such as oral sex, or sex toys. These activities can help to keep you aroused and can help to prevent you from becoming too frustrated. You may also want to consider taking a break from sexual activity altogether and focusing on other aspects of your relationship, such as intimacy and communication.

Oral sex is a powerful way to keep the sexual spark going during the refractory period. Both men and women can perform oral sex on each other, providing a wide range of sensations and pleasures. Oral is fun, plus you can be creative and learn about each other’s bodies at the same time. There are many different ways to give and receive oral sex, so experiment and find what feels best for you and your partner.

The use of sex toys can also be a great way to keep the sexual fire burning during the refractory period. Many couples use vibrators, dildos, and other toys to add excitement and variety to their sex lives. Sex toys can be used to stimulate the clitoris, vagina, penis, or anus. They can be used during masturbation, oral sex, or penetrative sex. Sex toys can be a great way to spice up your sex life and keep things interesting during the refractory period.

When the refractory period is over, you will likely be feeling sexually aroused and ready to go. Make sure to take the time to enjoy each other and reconnect. This is a great time to experiment with different sexual positions, fantasies, and activities. Be creative and have fun!


Male refractory period modification is not as futile of a pursuit as one may initially assume it to be after hearing just how indefinite our scientific understanding of its causes appears to be, but thanks to the benefit of behavioural studies and statistical investigations, we have in fact managed to identify concrete actions that men are able to take to shorten their refractory period. Better yet, both of them are healthy (or at least interesting) in their own right and may pay dividends in the aspects of your sex life that hopefully precede the refractory period.

It is, of course, important to note that these will only get you so far. Age, hormones, and psychosexual dynamics being what they are, extra dirty pillow talk and a healthy, active lifestyle have their limits – this is not erectile dysfunction, and there is no magic blue pill you can take 30 minutes before the action starts to turn your marathon into a decathlon.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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