Porn might have you convinced that men are like Energizer bunnies that keep going and going and going, but the reality is a lot more human, and a lot more realistic: Even at their youngest or most virile, everyone needs some recovery time between sessions.
The male refractory period, a.k.a. the time between orgasms, can last minutes to days, says board-certified urologic surgeon Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D. After sex, your penis becomes flaccid from neural signals telling your body to relax, especially the organ that’s been doing most of the work (yep, the penis), Brahmbhatt says.
Just like our computers or phones sometimes need a reboot, our bodies need that time as well. The excited fight-or-flight nervous system recedes, and the rest-and-restore system comes forward,” explains board-certified urologist and men’s sexual health expert Paul Turek, M.D.
After orgasming, a man’s dopamine and testosterone levels drop, while serotonin and prolactin increase. “If prolactin levels are lower, his refractory period will be shorter,” says sex expert Antonia Hall. “Other variables include stress and energy levels, arousal levels, and drug and alcohol use—including antidepressants and other prescription drugs that can hinder sexual desire.”
Individual recovery time also depends on your overall health and age, Brahmbhatt says. “Generally speaking, men in their 20s often need only a few minutes, while men in their 30s and 40s may need 30 minutes to an hour,” says Xanet Pailet, sex and intimacy educator and author of the new book Living An Orgasmic Life.
Many of the factors that impact MRP are out of men’s control. But being extremely aroused can shorten the length of the refractory period, Pailet says.
Gaining control of your orgasms can be a start to managing your recovery times.
“My best recommendation to men who want to be able to have sex multiple times in a short period is to learn ejaculatory control, which allows them to still experience an orgasm without ejaculating,” Pailet says. Ejaculatory control can be learned through breathwork, according to Pailet. There are tantric breathing techniques that can help you delay orgasm (and some breathing techniques that just make for better sex, tbh).
Of course, being your healthiest never hurts. “The best you can do is to keep that body of yours as healthy as possible by eating right, exercising regularly, and treating it like a temple,” Turek says. “A healthy body will reboot quicker than an unhealthy one.” That also includes avoiding too much alcohol, which is known to act as a depressant.
Maybe the best motivation to order that salad… ever.
Aly Walansky is a New York-based lifestyle writer. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alywalansky.