Reconsidering the refractory period: An exploratory study of women's post-orgasmic experiences

Humphries, Aliisa K.; Cioe, Jan
October 2009
Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality;2009, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p127
Academic Journal
The post-orgasmic refractory period in men is characterized by penile sensitivity, detumescence, and reduced arousabilty. The literature suggests that a comparable phenomenon either does not occur in women or is less marked. The topic has thus been understudied in women. Similarities in the prenatal genital development of the sexes and in their adult post-orgasmic release of prolactin, a hormone associated with the refractory period in men, suggest the possibility of a refractory period in women. The present study of 174 female university students (mean age 25 years) focused on the occurrence of post-orgasmic clitoral hypersensitivity which we hypothesized would parallel the post- orgasmic penile glans sensitivity reported in men. Overall, 96% of the participants reported post-orgasmic clitoral hypersensitivity and a comparable percentage indicated aversiveness to further post-orgasm clitoral stimulation. Follow-up individual online interviews with 11 participants provided further elaboration on the experience. The findings invite a reconsideration of a refractory period in women and highlight the need for further research on post-orgasmic experiences that includes the female perspective.


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