What happens in the one hour after an orgasm?

Ever wondered what exactly is going on behind the scenes as you're going through the post-orgasm rollercoaster of sensations and emotions? Well, we've done the research...

Rachel Worthington
Rachel Worthington
One Hour After Orgasm Infographic
				
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Orgasms, we all love them. 

They feel fantastic, make us feel more connected to our partners and ourselves, and can even relieve stress and pain! In fact, we have dedicated our time and energy here at Bedbible to making sure you get your orgasm fill, however you like it.

A lot of us know the kinds of feelings and sensations that occur in the build-up to the big O, but what about what happens afterwards? 

There’s probably some cleaning up to do, and perhaps a bit of cuddling if you’re in the mood, but we don’t tend to hear much about everything going on inside your body after the deed is done.

Well, that’s about to change! I’ve dug into some scientific research and spoken to medical experts to get to the bottom of exactly what’s happening in your brain and body moment to moment after you climax.

Turns out, there’s a whole load going on behind the scenes. From the precise moment we orgasm, to an hour down the line, your body is really put through its paces as all kinds of chemical, physiological and psychological changes occur.

The story is not the same for everybody, either. Depending on whether you have a vagina or a penis, some pretty different things can be happening under the hood, and we can react in vastly different ways as we recover from our orgasms.

So, without further ado, here’s a snapshot of what happens in one hour after you orgasm…

0 Minutes After

Directly after an orgasm, a rush of dopamine hits your brain, creating an incredible high similar to the feeling of taking heroin [1]! Many women, and some men, experience a ‘sex flush’ during sex where blood vessels relax and allow more blood close to the surface of the skin. This causes a red coloration of the skin, especially around the chest and neck [2].

1 Minute After

If you’re a female, you receive a huge flood of oxytocin that creates even more feelings of total euphoria [3]. People with penises, on the other hand, experience a surge of the hormone prolactin, which starts curbing that dopamine rush feeling and providing a sense of sexual satisfaction and satiation in its place [4]. Regardless of gender, the body also starts becoming less responsive to sexual stimulation and wants to avoid any more of it [5]. This is the beginning of the refractory period.

5 Minutes After

The raised blood pressure and heart rate that happened during arousal and sex start to go down again, giving way to a sense of relaxation and gratification [5], so you can chill out and enjoy. In some women, levels of oxytocin in the blood remain high [3]. Oxytocin is also responsible for feelings of closeness and bonding, which may be why you feel like a nice post-coital cuddle [6].

10 Minutes After

In some people, the ‘post-sex blues’ kick in. Just like a drug addict in withdrawal, you may get sudden feelings of depression, anger or agitation caused by dopamine levels dropping below their usual levels [7][8]. You may also need to pee! This may be due to spasms in the bladder [9], small amounts of semen being left over in the urinary tract and causing a sense of fullness [10], or the uterus contracting and putting pressure on the bladder [9].

30 Minutes After

Around the half-hour mark, the ‘sex flush’ will start to fade and the skin will return to its normal color. Sometimes, both penis- and vagina-owners may experience some brief cramping if the muscles that contract during orgasm continue contracting a little too intensely [11].

40 Minutes After

40 minutes after an orgasm, prolactin levels in men’s bodies are still high, hindering feelings of arousal and the ability to ‘go another round’ [4]. Fatigue and sleepiness are also common, both from the physical exhaustion of doing an intense cardio workout and from the cocktail of chemicals swirling around the body. Male bodies are especially susceptible to the morphine-like effects of endorphins, leading to the so-called ‘post-sex coma’, while women can be more susceptible to adrenaline and are more likely to feel alert and energized [12].

60 MINUTES AFTER, AND BEYOND…​

There are a lot of factors that affect how long the refractory period will last, including age, health and libido, but many men will take an hour or longer to recover after an orgasm, feel arousal and have an erection again. In older men, this may even take around 24 hours or longer [13]. Women, on the other hand, are likely to be ready and raring to go again in an hour (or even a few minutes!).

Of course, these are not hard and fast rules. One person’s five minute mark may be another person’s one minute – it depends on an endless list of individual factors. 

But, hopefully, this little timeline may just make you think next time you’re lying in bed next to your partner and breathing hard, or just having fun by yourself, about exactly what’s going on inside your body as you go through the post-orgasm rollercoaster of feelings and emotions.

 

Can you relate? Or perhaps you have some different experiences altogether? Let us know on Twitter!