The Basics of Masturbation: Everything About the Refractory Period

Most guys love to masturbate. It’s easy to see why – masturbating is fun, exciting, and feels incredible!

Of course, the best part of masturbation is the climax. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of an orgasm, whether you’re achieving it by yourself or with something in the bedroom.

However, once a guy orgasms, a funny thing occurs – he’ll struggle to get hard again! The reason men can’t get an immediate erection after an orgasm is due to the refractory period.

Refractory is a completely natural process that affects all men once they’ve orgasmed. During this period, men have a distinct lack of interest in sex and masturbation, as evidenced by the lack of an erection or any sexual desires.

Why exactly does the refractory period happen? Can we do anything to limit the refractory period after masturbating? Check out our guide for everything you need to know about the refractory period:

Refractory Period

What is the Refractory Period?

The refractory period refers to a natural phase of the body that begins after a man ejaculates. This period happens after any orgasm, whether it’s achieved through masturbation or sex.

All men experience the refractory period after an orgasm; it’s the point when the penis is flaccid and the mind has zero interest in any sort of sexual activity.

During the refractory period, men couldn’t be any less interested in sex or masturbating. You don’t feel physically aroused, while sexual activity is typically the last thing you’re thinking about.

The refractory period is the final stage of the sexual response cycle of the male body, which has four distinct phases:


Every sexual response cycle begins with desire. Your heart rate gets quicker, causing an increase in blood flow to the penis. The desire phase can last anywhere from a couple minutes to several hours!


The second phase of the sexual response cycle is arousal, occurring just after the desire phase. Heart rate continues to rise during this period, further increasing blood flow to the penis, leading to an erection. Your blood pressure also rises during the arousal phase, which lasts right up until you ejaculate.


Orgasm is probably the most well-known sexual response cycle phase! Once men reach the highest level of sexual stimulation, their heart rate and blood pressure peak, causing them to orgasm.


The fourth and final sexual response cycle phase is resolution, better known as the refractory period. Your heart rate continues to drop to normal levels, and blood flows away from the penis, making it flaccid. Most men feel a sense of sexual gratification and a bit of fatigue during this phase.

Why Does It Happen?

Oddly enough, we’re not entirely sure why the refractory period exists.

There are suggestions that it is caused by the various hormones released during an orgasm, such as oxytocin. These hormones are thought to limit our feelings of arousal and our ability to feel physically stimulated after sex. It’s the reason men can’t get an erection immediately after an orgasm.

So, it’s still a mystery why the refractory period happens after men ejaculate.

One thing that we do know is that the refractory period is not linked to other aspects of the male body, such as testosterone levels. It’s completely natural and normal for every man!

How Long is the Refractory Period?

The duration of the refractory period is different for each man.

For example, certain men have a relatively short refractory period, lasting just a few minutes after they ejaculate.

On the other hand, some men have a longer refractory period that lasts for several hours. In fact, there are instances where a refractory period lasts anywhere between 12 and 24 hours!

However, there are factors that can increase the duration of a refractory period in men. For instance, older men in the 50+ age range typically have a much longer refractory period compared to younger men.

That said, there’s no guarantee that being older results in a longer refractory period, while younger men can also have long-lasting rectory periods. Each man is unique, with refractory periods constantly changing throughout their lives.

How to Shorten the Refractory Period?

There is no guaranteed method for shortening the refractory period after masturbation or sex.

Some men recommend changing their diet and lifestyle, while others encourage medical assistance in the form of erectile dysfunction medicine. Again, none of these are guaranteed to work, but they might help shorten the refractory period for some men.

ED Medicine

Erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines may be able to help reduce the refractory period for men. For instance, studies have suggested that ED medicines with sildenafil (Viagra) and tadalafil (Cialis) may be able to lower the refractory period after an orgasm.

However, these medications do need a doctor’s prescription, and many won’t provide a prescription unless you’re dealing with symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Healthy Diet and Exercise

Maintaining a healthy diet and regularly exercising are certain to improve your overall sexual performance. You’ll feel healthier, stronger, and likely achieve a stronger erection, while it might also help reduce the refractory period.

There aren’t many studies that explore how we can reduce the refractory period, but focusing on a healthy diet and lifestyle is a good place to start. Even if it doesn’t reduce the refractory period, it will improve your sexual performance across the board, which is never a bad thing!

Focus on Your Cardio

If you improve your cardiovascular health, you’ll find it much easier to get an erection. Better cardio means better blood flow to your penis and a much harder erection. So, it could possibly help reduce the time between erections during your refractory period!

Avoid Smoking and Limit Alcohol

Smoking is a known cause of erectile dysfunction and has negative effects on cardio and sexual performance. Quit smoking, and you’re likely to reduce the duration of your refractory period as your blood flow and overall health improve.

Similarly, you want to limit alcohol intake between orgasms, as it can cause ED and lower sexual desire. Sexual desire is the first step of the sexual response cycle, so lowering it with alcohol could cause a longer refractory period.