We all want to know what we’re working with is normal, right? From the frequency and duration of our sex lives to what’s expected when it comes to an erection and how long you can stay hard.
Penises and erections are just like sex, and everyone’s different. Some guys might get hard just before sex, whilst others might find they can get an erection at any point, even if they’re sleeping or watching a movie.
There’s no hard and fast rule about how long an erection should last or how hard the penis should be.
What is an erection?
An erection occurs when the penis fills with blood, therefore becoming hard for sexual activity.
What are the different types of erection?
Although you might think erections can only happen at certain times, there are three types of erection:
- Reflexogenic erections typically happen when something touches the genitals, thereby triggering arousal.
- Psychogenic erections occur in response to mental stimuli, for example, sexual fantasies or sexual memories.
- Nocturnal erections happen during sleep.
Also Read: Is your libido normal for your age?
How does an erection occur?
An erection might seem like an entirely physical experience, but did you know the process begins in your brain? It kicks off with sexual stimulation, whether physical or imagined, and this triggers arousal, sending messages through our nerves that let our brains know to stimulate the blood vessels in the penis.
From here, arteries in the penis open to allow for increased blood flow, and veins in the penis close and trap the blood within the corpora cavernosa (tissue in the penis). All of this causes the penis to expand and become rigid. Once blood flow stops, usually after ejaculation or when you stop being aroused, the penis will become soft.
How long should an erection last?
There’s no one time that an erection should last. Every man and every erection is unique. According to a study in 2005 of 500 heterosexual couples, the time from when a penis enters a vagina to ejaculation varies from less than a minute to 44 minutes. The average duration of sex was 5 minutes.
These factors can influence erection duration:
- Age – older men may not stay erect for as long as younger men.
- Health – medical conditions such as erectile dysfunction (ED), heart disease, and diabetes can lead to difficulty achieving or maintaining an erection.
- Emotional state – anxiety or stress can impact a man’s ability to hold an erection.
- Substances – alcohol, caffeine and recreational drugs can make it more challenging to maintain an erection.
But what happens when an erection doesn’t go away?
We often read about struggling to maintain or achieve erections, but what happens when you have an erection that won’t go down?
There’s even a joke, ‘If I had an erection that lasted for four hours, I’d call everybody but the doctor.’
Also Read: Ten ways to give yourself (and her) a boost
However, did you know that an erection lasting four hours or more has a medical name? It’s called priapism, and it can happen when the blood that fills the penis to create an erection gets trapped and can’t flow back out. Without treatment, this could lead to impotence. This is because the blood gets trapped and then turns sludge-y, causing the structure of the corpora cavernosa to become fibrotic.
Although uncommon, it can become more likely to happen when you self-inject a substance to enhance your erections. In other cases, priapism can be a side effect of blood-related conditions, such as sickle cell disease or leukemia.
But what’s so special about four hours? This is because this is how long it takes to cut off a supply of blood to the penis and how long it takes for the blood trapped in the penis to become oxygen-deprived.
If it’s been less than four hours and your erection won’t go, there are a few things that you can try to help:
- Do some gentle exercise
- Have a warm bath
- Try to pee
- Take some paracetamol or ibuprofen if you’re in discomfort or pain
However, if it’s been longer than four hours, you should head to the Emergency Room.
How to improve your erectile health?
There are things that you can do to improve the quality of your erections, whether that’s difficulty achieving an erection, or your penis takes some time to come down again. These lifestyle habits and changes can help to promote better blood flow to your penis.
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Maintain a healthy lifestyle with these small changes:
- Stay active as regular exercise can help to promote better blood flow and improve your overall health.
- Treat high blood pressure.
- If you’re a smoker, consider quitting, as smoking has adverse health effects that can reduce blood flow.
- Get enough high-quality sleep, which is not directly related to your erections but can help with stress management.
Ready for a boost?
So, there you have it, there’s no precise duration that an erection should last, but seek medical help if your erections hang out for longer than four hours.
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