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Staying hard 101: How to maintain an erection

Here's what to do if you're struggling to maintain an erection.

Written by
Bailey Petts
Medically reviewed by
Last updated
April 23, 2024
min read
Staying hard 101: How to maintain an erection
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There's always a certain pressure to perform, right? You want your partner to have a great time in bed and be able to fully engage in the experience together. But, if you're experiencing issues with maintaining an erection, it can be difficult — both mentally and physically.

It's important to note that it can be difficult to maintain an erection at times — sometimes your mind drifts off due to outside stresses creeping in or maybe you're not feeling completely into it at the time. But, if you're struggling to maintain an erection regularly, there is probably a reason behind this and one that should be explored.

In some cases, it could be erectile dysfunction, which is actually incredibly common. In fact, 1 in 2 Aussie men experience ED at some point in their lives [1]. And, the good news is that it's treatable with a combination of medical treatment plans and lifestyle changes.

Getting an erection and maintaining it shouldn't be difficult or something you feel shame talking about, which is why we're here. Here's everything you need to know about staying harder for longer.

Why can it be difficult for men to get an erection?

To understand erectile dysfunction and how to maintain erections for longer periods, it's important to know how an erection actually happens.

When you're turned on, you experience blood flow to the penis into the tissues. This causes your penis to harden, resulting in an erection. Seems simple right? However, if there's any reason that blood flow is obstructed, you're going to struggle to get an erection or maintain an erection, even during intercourse when you're really *in the mood*.

Your erectile function isn't just affected by physical obstructions, though. There can be a few mental health conditions that make it hard to keep it up. With this in mind, there are a few options when it comes to how we treat erectile dysfunction.

What are the causes of erectile dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction affects men all over the globe and the causes of ED are varied. Psychological factors and medical conditions play a big role in getting an erection and keeping it hard.

Let's break it down into the two groups of potential causes of erectile dysfunction. First, psychological impotence factors:

  • Depression
  • High levels of stress
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual performance anxiety
  • Low self-esteem

Medical conditions that could cause erectile dysfunction:

  • Blocked blood vessels
  • Low testosterone levels
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Digestive and kidney diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Peyronie's disease (scar tissue inside the penis) [2].

Physical and mental trauma, certain medications, tobacco use, alcohol use and other substance abuse, and an unhealthy diet can also be major causes of erectile dysfunction.

Your sexual function can be impacted by a wide variety of causes, lifestyle choices included. If you do experience erectile dysfunction frequently, speaking with a doctor is your best course of action, especially as it could identify an underlying health condition.

How long can you maintain an erection?

How long is a piece of string? There is no set time for a man to keep an erection and you don't get any prizes from the Guinness World Book of records if you keep it up for 2 hours.

Actually, there might be a prize for that, but it could also point to other health conditions if your penis won't go down such as priapism (blood gets stuck in your penis — no one wants that) [3].

Sexual arousal should feel natural and a healthy erection means that your sexual activity and sexual stimulation aren't interrupted by your penis going down when you don't want it to, or before you've even had time to enjoy sexual activity.

It's difficult to outline an exact time that a man should have an erection; each man is different, and psychological and physical activity factors will affect the length of time, including how aroused you are.

A study from 2005 looked at the sex lives of 500 heterosexual couples and the median range for achieving ejaculation was around 5 minutes [4]. But, again, take this with a pinch of salt as it's not a very diverse study.

Though it's a spectrum of time, anything from a couple of minutes to half an hour seems like a healthy amount of time to maintain an erection. But, if you're ever worried that it's lasting for a little too long, be sure to check in with your doctor.

How can I practice maintaining an erection?

Sexual performance and sexual function are important for you and your relationships so it's good to be aware of things that you can do to maintain an erection for a bit longer.

Once you've identified what could be the root cause of your erectile dysfunction experience, you might want to look at ways to practice keeping an erection. Just make sure you check in with your doctor beforehand.

One such way to practice is with pelvic floor exercises [5]. One study found that when completing regular pelvic floor exercises, 40% of men with ED regained normal sexual function [6].

Kegel exercises or pelvic floor can be performed at home to improve your sexual function and sexual stamina. Your pelvic floor can be located and exercised when you're peeing — if you stop your stream in the middle of urination, the muscles you're clenching are the ones you need to train.

Kegel exercises consist of squeezing these muscles, holding them, and then releasing them after about 5 seconds. Do up to 30 reps of this, a couple of times a day, and mix up your positions when you do it. You can even practice holding your stream of urine each time you go, just try not to make a mess.

How to keep an erection

Kegel exercises aren't the only things you can do though, with medical treatments and lifestyle changes having a great impact on treating erectile dysfunction [7].

In your holistic approach to erectile dysfunction treatment, you can try the following:

  • Reduce stress-related activities or causes in your life
  • Increase physical activity such as including more cardio
  • Incorporate a Mediterranean diet with lots of nutrients and protein
  • Avoid high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Drink alcohol in moderation
  • Avoid substance abuse with recreational drugs
  • Reduce your porn consumption
  • Stop smoking (and avoid vaping!)
  • Check on your testosterone levels as these can impact your sexual dysfunction.

Clinical-strength ingredients can also support erectile dysfunction. With Pilot's erectile dysfunction treatments, you can tackle ED without even needing to leave your home.

Simply take our online consult and our Aussie practitioner will create a treatment plan for you, which is delivered discreetly to your door. And, with 78% of men achieving lasting erections with these treatments, it's most definitely worth trying.

These treatments work by targeting the enzyme that is responsible for the contraction of blood vessels in the penis. By preventing this enzyme from working, it can relax the blood vessels in your penis and increases blood flow, which helps with achieving an erection.

No need to make an appointment at the doctor — you can access help today from the comfort of your own home and avoid any awkward face-to-face conversations.

How to maintain an erection for longer periods

If you want to maintain an erection for longer periods of time, it's best to take a comprehensive approach that includes medical treatments, moving your body regularly, a healthy diet and Kegel exercises.

But, there are also things you can try in the bedroom — outside of using medical treatment options or alongside it, whatever works for you.

  • Try different sex positions
  • Connect with yourself. Try making your alone time or masturbation sessions more relaxing, and less about 'getting there'
  • Increased foreplay to sustain your sexual arousal for longer
  • Boost your intimate moments outside of the bedroom, perhaps cook together more or engage in a cultural activity like a show or go to a museum
  • Manage your anxiety and stress
  • Breathe fun back into the bedroom. Considering treating you and your partner to a hotel room for a night?
  • Practice mindfulness.

Having sex isn't always about achieving orgasm, but if you're struggling to maintain an erection regularly and you can't ever finish, then it's time to check in with a health professional.

But, the good news is that erectile dysfunction treatments are at your disposal and you'll be maintaining longer erections in no time.

Photo credit: cottonbro/Pexels

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