While there are a lucky few who can allegedly cum after sex and immediately go again, most people must endure the dreaded refractory period. This varies for different genders and bodies, but generally, it refers to the phase immediately after orgasm during which you can’t cum again. For those with a penis, the refractory period usually makes it physiologically impossible to ejaculate or get an erection, while those with clits and vulvas can still physically engage in sex, but might lose interest in it after cumming. As it differs person-to-person, this period can stretch from anywhere between a few seconds to 24 hours or longer. But could anal orgasms be any different?
Well, it depends on what you’re working with. “For those with a prostate, there are two types of anal orgasms,” says Evan Goldstein, an anal surgeon and the founder of Bespoke Surgical, a gay men’s anal and sexual health clinic. “One in which you completely get off and ejaculate while being stimulated anally, and then one in which you’re being stimulated anally over a period of time without ejaculating.” Goldstein explains that if you’re able to achieve an anal orgasm without ejaculating, then you won’t have a refractory period, meaning you can experience “positive orgasmic sensations over and over” until you eventually shoot.
So how can you achieve this mystical experience? “This can be done when someone uses a toy designed specifically for prostate stimulation, is having sex with a partner whose penis or strap-on is able to achieve direct prostate stimulation or is having their prostate milked — aka receiving a prostate massage digitally,” explains Goldstein. “However, it’s important to eventually ejaculate, otherwise you can experience prostatitis, wherein the prostatic juices build up inside the prostate and aren’t released (during ejaculation), which can cause feelings of pain and irritation in the area.”
In other words, if you learn how to orgasm via prostate stimulation without ejaculating, then, no, butts don’t have the same refractory woes as penises. But once you do ejaculate, your refractory period will be the same as usual — it’ll just be happening in your penis, not your ass.
When it comes to people with vulvas (many of whom don’t experience a traditional refractory period anyway), anal orgasms tend to happen when their “a-zone” is stimulated — this, as Goldstein explains, is a “plethora of nerve endings” near the vaginal wall and pelvic floor, and it can enhance orgasm, arousal and lubrication. The close proximity of this zone to the nerve endings of the anus make anal orgasms possible for vagina-having people (though those who typically need clitorial stimulation to cum will probably also need that for anal play). In these cases, a person might experience an ever-so-brief refractory period following a clitoral or vaginal orgasm — though again, those are rare — but their ass likely won’t play a role.
That said, Goldstein warns that it can be hard to tell if you’re having a purely anal orgasm, as they often overlap with penile, vaginal and clitoral orgasms. “The nerve endings are all connected in our pelvic floor,” Goldstein explains. As such, observing and measuring the anal refractory period may not be so clear-cut.
At any rate, the only time you really have to worry about a refractory period is when you’re ejaculating out of a penis. If that doesn’t apply to you, you should be able to keep going until you feel like stopping, without any kind of pesky refractory period to speak of.