Men can experience a post-orgasmic period or refractory period in which they’re either physiologically unable to be erect or psychologically disinterested in sex. This period can last minutes to days and varies from person to person.
Men and women both have a built-in recovery period after sex that can last anywhere from a few minutes to a few days. Here’s what happens if you keep going after ejaculation:
1. You’ll feel a bit sleepy
There’s an old stereotype — one that probably applies to any heterosexual monogamous intercourse, regardless of gender identity or orientation — that after a man’s first orgasm during sex, he gets a little sleepy. Research shows that post-intercourse brain scans show a dip in activation through the prefrontal cortex, which shuts off alertness and mental activity, and that this may help explain why men often feel sleepy after orgasming.
Another reason that you might feel a bit sleepy after orgasm is that your brain and body release a cocktail of neurochemicals during an orgasm, including oxytocin, prolactin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid. These chemicals can increase sensitivity, make your blood pressure and heart rate climb, and lead to muscular contractions and a heightened state of pleasure. But they also can cause your brain to enter the refractory period, which causes you to lose interest in sexual activity and to feel tired.
If you’re a healthy, normal person, that shouldn’t be a problem if you’re only coming once or twice during a masturbation session or sex encounter. But if you find yourself feeling like you need to nap after every time you come, it’s worth talking to your doctor. It could be a side effect of medication, like antidepressants that mess with serotonin and dopamine levels, or a sign of something else going on in your body.
2. You’ll feel a bit sore
A sore penis after sex can be painful but should never last longer than a few days. It might be caused by friction from rough sex or by not having enough lubrication. Then again, it could also be a sign of an infection like a bladder or prostate problem. If the pain persists, talk to your doctor right away.
Some people are able to come multiple times after ejaculation, particularly when they’re younger and more active. If this is you, try a little more lubrication and have shorter sessions of masturbation or sex. If you’re still experiencing discomfort, take a few days off and try to avoid sex altogether until the pain subsides.
Having painful sex can be hard on a relationship, too. It can create feelings of performance pressure and stress, and it can negatively impact the satisfaction and fulfillment both partners get from sexual activity. To combat this, open communication is key in every relationship and a discussion of personal and sexual boundaries.
It’s important to remember that the refractory period isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just the body’s way of protecting and healing itself. If you’re feeling this discomfort as a result of an underlying medical condition or infection, it will take some time before your body is back to normal. Until then, over-the-counter pain relievers and an ice pack can help.
3. You’ll feel a bit numb
Both men and women have a built-in time after sex when they can’t get erect (hard) or ejaculate again. It’s known as the refractory period and can last from a few minutes to a few days.
This is a protective response from the body’s fight-or-flight system that pushes for calm, explains urologist Charles Walker. The sympathetic nervous system sends a signal to your penis to slow the release of hormones and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and testosterone, that cause an erection.
During this time, you might notice a tingling or feeling of numbness in your genital area or even the rest of your body, especially in your feet. It’s not unusual, but can be a little disturbing for some people, who might trust forum advice that suggests this numbness is a sign of a stroke or something serious.
For most, though, this numbness is nothing to be worried about. It’s a natural and normal part of the orgasm process. And remember, every orgasm is different for everyone. In fact, in a study on orgasms, researchers found that women were able to describe their orgasms with 27 different adjectives (Archives of Sexual Behavior). This means there is no “correct” way to feel an orgasm because each one is unique. But if you’re having trouble getting an orgasm, try to relax and keep your mind open to new sensations.
4. You’ll feel a bit confused
Ejaculation is the release of semen from the penis and most often occurs during a sexual climax, or orgasm. However, it’s also possible to have an orgasm without ejaculating. This may be because of an excess of lubrication or due to other conditions that could affect your sexual function.
Regardless, the pleasure of orgasm can vary greatly between men and women. If you’re masturbating and have a few orgasms but can’t get to an orgasm, try increasing the amount of stimulation, using more foreplay, or trying out different methods. You can also consult a health care provider to rule out medical causes of the issue.
The body has a built-in recovery period after sex, known as the refractory period. This can last for a few minutes to a few days and is different for everyone. During this time, the body is unable to produce as much semen and it can be difficult to ejaculate again.
Continuing sexual activity after ejaculation can have physical and psychological effects, including soreness, discomfort, and a decreased emotional connection. It can also create performance pressure and impact relationship dynamics. In order to avoid these negative outcomes, it is important to prioritize open communication and mutual consent when it comes to sexual activity.