How Long Do Erections Normally Last?

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Usually, your penis will be flaccid until you become aroused. An erection is a physical response to a chemical reaction that indicates sexual arousal for those with penises. As a result, the penis becomes stiff and stands away from the body. 

How long an erection lasts differs from person to person. Several variables can affect how long the average man can stay erect. However, there are some ways you can improve your erection to help you enjoy satisfying sex. 


How do erections work?

An erection occurs during sexual arousal, caused by something you think, feel, or see that turns you on. However, an erection can also happen for no particular reason, and many men often wake up with one. In fact, there are three types of erections:

Reflexive erections that occur spontaneously, without thinking about sex

Psychogenic erections that occur in response to sexual stimuli, memory, or fantasy

Nocturnal erections that occur during sleep

The penis has two chambers called the corpora cavernosa. They contain three tubes of spongy tissue that fill with tiny blood vessels when relaxed, causing the penis to harden. However, the blood vessels can only relax when your brain sends signals to your penis to let the blood in for an erection. A membrane around the chambers seals the blood inside to keep your penis hard until ejaculation. 

How long can the average man stay erect?

Although there is no accurate time an erection can last, the average man can stay erect for 25-35 minutes. In fact, a penis can be erect anywhere from a few minutes to half an hour. However, no one knows for sure, as there have been no studies to figure out exactly how long the average erection lasts. 

One thing we do know for sure is that an erection shouldn’t last more than four hours. This could be a sign of priapism, a long-lasting painful erection that can cause permanent damage to your penis. If your erection does not go away after two hours, you should seek medical help. 

What factors affect erections? 

How long should an erection last depends on many factors, which have made it impossible to study the accurate time of an erection. The length of your erection may be impacted by your:

  • Age
  • Health
  • Side effects of certain medications
  • Level of sexual stimulation or arousal
  • Sexual activity (including masturbation and sexual intercourse)
  • Mental state

If your erections don’t last long enough for you to enjoy satisfying sex or they aren’t firm or you have difficulty becoming erect, you may have erectile dysfunction (ED). More than 30 million men in the US experience erectile problems, but there are treatment options and other ways to improve your erections. 

How do you improve erections? 

The key to getting an erection is to make yourself aroused. This can be done by thinking of something sexual, watching porn, reading erotica, touching your body, or using a sex toy. There are also a number of ways you can improve the length of your erections, including medication and lifestyle changes. 

ED medication

If you experience erectile dysfunction, there are some medications you can take to improve your erections. The most common form is called Viagra, which works by dilating the blood vessels and increasing blood flow to your penis. Speak to a healthcare provider to determine which medications are best for you. 

Exercise and diet

Making simple lifestyle changes like exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can improve the length of your erection. In fact, a healthy lifestyle might be enough to improve ED.

Avoid smoking and drinking

Alcohol and tobacco products can affect the quality of your erection. Drinking too much alcohol can decrease blood flow to the penis, increase erectile dysfunction, and depresses your central nervous system. Smoking can also lead to blood vessel damage and cause ED.


If you’re having trouble getting aroused, engage in foreplay before sexual intercourse. Foreplay can help you relax by easing any tension in your body caused by stress or distractions. 

Communicate with your partner

Talking to your partner about your sexual likes, dislikes, and any fantasies can improve your erection. Keeping sex exciting in a long-term relationship has many benefits, including a longer erection. Relationship conflict can contribute to ED, so try to keep any issues outside of the bedroom. 


It’s how you use it that counts! While some men are able to keep an erection for 30 minutes, others can’t hold off for more than a few minutes when they’re really aroused. But if you’re having problems with keeping an erection, you can still have a satisfying sex life with some lifestyle changes or medication. However, open communication is the best treatment. Share your biggest turn-ons and wildest fantasies with your partner. Then, you’ll both be in the mood. 

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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