Study debunks theory that a hormone causes men’s refractory period after sex


Regardless of how excessive their libidos, most males merely cannot have intercourse a second time after having an orgasm and not using a little bit of a break, and that is lengthy been blamed on a pesky hormone referred to as prolactin. 

There are even (non-FDA-approved) therapies that declare shorten the so-called ‘refractory interval’ by lowering ranges of this hormones. 

However a brand new examine brings unhealthy information for males who thought they’d discovered the key to a second spherical: prolactin will not be the issue in any case, a brand new examine in mice suggests. 

Researchers on the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Portugal discovered that neither boosting nor chopping prolactin ranges in mice of a number of completely different species modified their typical refractory durations. 

Various theories recommend hormones and feel-good hormones like oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine are concerned, scientists nonetheless do not know what causes the male refractory interval or how one can shorten it – and now essentially the most promising rationalization appears to be falling  flat.  

Whereas ladies can have intercourse a number of instances in a row and even orgasm a number of instances n a row, the overwhelming majority of males have to attend some time period earlier than they are often aroused sufficient for intercourse or orgasm. 

It's long been assumed that a spike in the hormone prolactin causes men's post-sex refractory period - but new Portuguese study suggests that the hormone has nothing to do with the wait for round two (file)

It is lengthy been assumed {that a} spike within the hormone prolactin causes males’s post-sex refractory interval – however new Portuguese examine means that the hormone has nothing to do with the anticipate spherical two (file) 

That adjustments with age, in addition to different components like stress ranges. 

Refractory durations for 18-year-old males solely final about quarter-hour on common, whereas a person in his 70s will seemingly want all day – about 20 hours – earlier than he is able to go once more. 

Why males have to attend has by no means been absolutely labored out. 

However a long time in the past, scientists seen a typical theme amongst male people and animals who had post-orgasm refractory durations. 

In males and different mammals, the hormone prolactin spiked proper across the time of ejaculation. 

Plus, males with usually low intercourse drives, who wrestle to orgasm or to ejaculate even have chronically excessive ranges of prolactin. 

Within the absence of a greater rationalization, the hyperlink grew to become cultural cannon. 

‘These completely different outcomes all level in the direction of a central function for prolactin in suppressing male sexual habits,’ mentioned Dr Susana Lima, corresponding creator of the brand new analysis, which was printed Monday within the journal, Nature. 


Like most hormones, prolactin serves a variety of roles in female and male mammals. 

However its major perform is to assist females produce milk to feed their offspring.

It additionally encourages the event of ladies’s breasts after they undergo puberty.  

In males, its function is much less clear, and never cyclical, nevertheless it’s considered concerned in sexual arousal and performance. 

Typically, it exists in low ranges in each males’s and ladies’s our bodies. 

Girls with unusually excessive ranges of it might wrestle to conceive or lactate when they aren’t pregnant. 

Males with an excessive amount of of the hormone might have low intercourse drives, wrestle to maintain erections or to orgasm. 

If the situation is left untreated too lengthy in males, their sperm manufacturing might decline to zero.  

‘Nonetheless, a direct hyperlink between prolactin and the male post-ejaculatory refractory interval was by no means instantly demonstrated. Nonetheless, this idea has change into so widespread that it now seems in textbooks in addition to within the fashionable press.’ 

Like most hormones, prolactin serves a variety of roles in female and male mammals, however its major perform is to assist females produce milk to feed their offspring.  In males, its function is much less clear, and never cyclical, nevertheless it’s considered concerned in sexual arousal and performance. 

Dr Lima and her group had been merely all in favour of studying extra about its function and performance and, since mice have refractory durations analogous to these of people – prolactin spike and all – determined to tweak the animals’ prolactin ranges to see whether or not they grew to become roughly able to go once more.  

They boosted prolactin ranges in varied breeds of mice, anticipating them to be completely turned off. 

However the mice had been unfazed. These with quick refractory durations had been nonetheless able to go once more shortly after, whereas those that had been gradual to get going once more nonetheless wanted about the identical period of time. 

Turning down prolactin ranges did not do something noticeable to their refractory durations both. 

‘If prolactin was certainly mandatory for the refectory interval, males with out prolactin ought to have regained sexual exercise after ejaculation quicker than controls,’ lead examine creator Susana Valente identified. 

‘However they didn’t.’ 

‘Our outcomes point out that prolactin could be very unlikely to be the trigger’, mentioned Dr Lima. 

‘Now we will transfer on and attempt to discover out what’s actually taking place.’ 

Intercourse is difficult – and that holds true for the organic processes taking place inside our our bodies by way of each stage of intercourse, from flirtation to how we really feel after the deed is finished. 

Within the organic sense, arousal is the results of a fancy set of physiological, sensory, chemical, psychological and neurological processes. 

Scientists suppose all or any of those components could possibly be at play within the male refractory interval – however the examine suggests a transfer away from prolactin as a goal for methods to shorten than interval. 

There are not any FDA-approved therapies for altering the refractory interval, although there’s some proof that erectile dysfunction medicine like Viagra might shorten it considerably.

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