Male ejaculation is a normal physiological event in which semen is expelled from the male reproductive system. It is physiologically a very complex phenomenon, and it includes several consecutive processes. Being a taboo topic in the general population, there are many misconceptions about what is normal and what is abnormal ejaculation.
The Normal Ejaculation Process
The first step of sexual activity in men is sexual arousal, but this step is not necessary in order to achieve an erection. Sexual stimulation is more important, and it can be physical through stimulation of the erogenous zones (penis, scrotum, etc), visual, or mental (fantasizing, imagination). According to research, 5-10 minutes of penile stimulation is usually enough to achieve orgasm for most men. Even before ejaculation, a certain amount of pre-ejaculatory fluid is usually ejected from the male genital tract. The male urethra contracts rhythmically during orgasm, thus expelling semen. Ejaculation can be postponed voluntarily by decreasing the level of stimulation, but it is an involuntary process once it starts.
The refractory period begins right after ejaculation and lasts until the male is able to achieve another erection. The length of this period varies on an individual basis. It also increases with age -- being on average 15 minutes for 20-year-old males, and up to 20 hours for 70-year-old males. The average refractory period for all age groups combined is estimated to be about 30 minutes. During the refractory period, men most commonly avoid stimulation as it feels uncomfortable and in some cases even painful. However, there are some men that can achieve multiple orgasms with ejaculation within a very short time period and practically without a refractory period. In one study conducted in 1995, an adult male presented with the ability to achieve 6 orgasms with ejaculation in 36 minutes. A refractory period was completely absent in this case. Therefore, multiple orgasms without a refractory period are not common, but there are also no data that they can be harmful so they are not considered to be abnormal.
The most common disorders of the ejaculation process are premature ejaculation and delayed ejaculation. In patients with premature ejaculation, ejaculation happens after a small amount of sexual stimulation thus ending the sexual intercourse sooner than expected. That can often leave both partners unsatisfied and this disorder is the target of many clinical trials. Delayed ejaculation represents the opposite problem, namely that a longer than expected amount of stimulation is needed in order to achieve orgasm. Both premature and delayed ejaculation can be temporary and they most certainly occur in the sexual life of most men. However, if they are permanent, some of the morphological or functional disorders of genitourinary system should be considered and treated.
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