An erection is a natural response that causes the penis to become stiff. It typically occurs in response to sexual arousal. Erections can, however, occur randomly. A common question is, how long can the average man stay erect? Various factors affect how long someone will remain erect; however, an erection may last anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes on average.
Talking about erections can be a sensitive subject, but this article will cover all you need to know about erections, from what causes them to how they work and when to consult a doctor regarding erections.
What Is an Erection?
Erections happen when the penis stiffens due to increased blood flow. When a penis is erect, it is firm and more prominent in size than when not erect. Erections are typically triggered by sexual arousal, but they can occur randomly throughout the day unexpectedly. Some individuals also have nocturnal erections that happen during sleep or erections that occur early in the morning.
How Does an Erection Work?
You may be wondering how exactly erections work. An erection happens when the soft tissues inside the penis fill with blood. When sexually aroused, typically due to mental stimulation or sensual physical touch, blood vessels in the penis will open up, which allows them to fill with blood. When this blood is trapped under pressure, the penis swells and hardens, and an erection occurs.
Types of erections:
- Psychogenic – This type of erection occurs when exposed to fantasy or audiovisual stimuli.
- Reflexogenic – This type happens as a result of physical touch to the genitals.
- Nocturnal erections – This type occurs during rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep.
How Long Does an Average Erection Last?
How long one can maintain an erection can differ based on medical conditions, age, and overall health.
According to one research study of 500 couples, it was found that the time from when a penis enters the vagina to ejaculation varied from less than 60 seconds to 44 minutes. However, the middle number was around 5.4 minutes. It is important to note that it’s possible to lose an erection without ejaculation occurring.
What Can Affect the Duration of Erections?
There are a few different factors that may affect how long an erection lasts, for example:
- Alcohol or drugs
- Psychological depression
- Performance anxiety
However, for those who continually have difficulty getting and maintaining an erection may suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction is more common than you might think. Erectile dysfunction affects roughly 30 million men in the United States. You may have erectile dysfunction if you have difficulty: maintaining erections, becoming erect any time, can only sometimes get erections, or if your erections do not last long enough to have satisfying sex.
Another condition that may affect erections, and whether sex is satisfying for you or your partner is premature ejaculation. Premature ejaculation occurs when an orgasm happens sooner than wanted and interferes with having satisfactory sex. When someone has this condition, ejaculation occurs soon after intercourse begins. Premature ejaculation is quite common and affects up to 30-40% of men.
On the other end of the spectrum are erections that last too long. When this happens, it’s called priapism. These long-lasting and painful erections can occur in the absence of sexual stimulation. It’s essential to seek medical help if this occurs because priapism starves the tissues of the penis from oxygen, which can cause damage to the penis.
What Can You Do to Make Your Erections Last Longer?
Lifestyle changes and reducing stress can help erections last longer and help you have a more fulfilling sex life. The following may help you maintain an erection for longer:
- Following the Mediterranean diet – A multitude of research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk for erectile dysfunction. The Mediterranean diet is said to increase testosterone and improve erectile performance.
- Regular exercise – Regular exercise can improve erections, especially the type of that exercises the pelvic floor muscles.
- Improving relationship communication with your partner – Sorting out conflict within your relationship may improve your sex life.
- Limiting alcohol – Alcohol has been known to impact erections negatively. Avoiding alcohol before having sex can help you maintain an erection.
- Reducing stress – Stress can interfere with sex drive and erections. Stress-reducing activities, such as mindfulness meditation, may be helpful.
- Limit smoking – In addition to the many risks of smoking to your health, cigarette smoking can put you at risk for erectile dysfunction. This is because cigarette smoking can damage the blood vessels in the penis. Research has demonstrated that the risks of erectile dysfunction increase if you are a heavy smoker.
When Should You Consult a Doctor?
If you are having ongoing difficulty maintaining an erection, and are having an unsatisfying sex life because of it, it is time to contact a doctor.
A doctor can prescribe medications needed to treat erectile dysfunction. A doctor can help determine whether your difficulty getting or maintaining erections has to do with your lifestyle, and whether medication is necessary to treat your symptoms.
Get Help From an Online Doctor!
Not being able to maintain an erection can interfere with your quality of life, cause low self-esteem, and cause conflict in your relationships. But the good news is, DrHouse can help.
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The average erection lasts anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes. However, this is not always the case. Those who ejaculate too soon may suffer from premature ejaculation, and those who have trouble getting or maintaining an erection may suffer from erectile dysfunction.
There are a few things that contribute to whether you can maintain erections, such as age, health, stress level, and medications. If you are concerned about not being able to get or keep an erection, it is best to consult a doctor.
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- Premature ejaculation: Causes & treatment. Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved August 27, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15627-premature-ejaculation
- Pyke R. E. (2020). Sexual Performance Anxiety. Sexual medicine reviews, 8(2), 183–190. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sxmr.2019.07.001
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Retrieved August 27, 2022, from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts
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