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What Happens To A Penis After Sex? 5 Parts To The "Resolution" Phase

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Our bodies are truly a miracle. They help us get around and perform our work, they create life, and they're also capable of giving us amazing physical pleasure. We don't think much about what goes on with our bodies when we're making love, but you might be interested to know what happens to a penis after sex. There are things even males might not be aware of.

There are four phases to the sex act itself, as the Cleveland Clinic explained. In the initial excitement phase, also called desire, our bodies begin to respond to arousal; breathing and heart rate increase, the genitals start to lubricate, and the penis begins to fill with blood and become slightly erect. The erection grows stronger during the second phase, plateau, and the testes also withdraw into the scrotum. The third phase is orgasm, or the climax of the act; here, semen collects and is ejaculated as the penis experiences strong contractions. Finally, in the resolution phase, the partners' bodies return to their pre-arousal stage.

What happens in that resolution phase is a fascinating combination of hormonal and muscular phenomena. It also explains why a second go-round is easier for females than it is for males.

The Erection Goes Down

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No surprise to anyone, after ejaculation, the penis becomes flaccid almost immediately. The brain releases neurotransmitters in an attempt to calm the body's excitement level, which signal the muscles in the organ to relax.

Blood Flow Disperses

As the Cleveland Clinic explained, the penis has two channels called the corpus cavernosa, which are filled with blood vessels. When a man is aroused, the muscles of the corpus cavernosa relax, allowing blood to fill the vessels. The pooling of blood eventually creates the pressure that causes an erection. After orgasm, the penis's muscles contract, allowing the blood to flow out and causing flaccidity of the organ.

He Can't Have Another Erection Right Away

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Women are capable of becoming aroused and climaxing a second (and third, and fourth...) time after the initial intercourse. Men, on the other hand, undergo what's known as a "male refractory period" after ejaculating, during which it's impossible to get hard again. How long this period lasts depends on several variables, including age, according to Healthline. Younger men may be ready for round two in just a few minutes, while older men may need half an hour, or they may not be able to perform for the rest of the night. Interestingly, a Finnish study published in the American Journal of Medicine found that older men who have intercourse more often are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction.

Erection Without Orgasm Is Possible

As Greatist explained, some men may be able to have an erection during the refractory period, but won't be able to come again right away. This can actually be to their partner's advantage if the other party hasn't yet climaxed.

Sometimes There's A Problem

We've all heard those ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs, with the warning about "see your doctor if you have an erection lasting more than four hours." Yes, this can actually happen. As WebMD explained, when blood remains trapped in the corpus cavernosa, it causes the penis to stay erect, a condition called priapism. The condition can occur as a result of certain medicines or medical conditions (such as sickle cell anemia), or as the result of an injury that affects penile blood flow. Priapism can be quite painful, and, as the ad says, it requires immediate medical attention.