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There’s no hard and fast rule for how long a penis should remain erect, explains urologist Jay Simhan, MD, associate chair of the department of urology at Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia.

“Naturally, without being on any medications, the average erection for an average person would be roughly 10 minutes,” says Simhan. “Of course, there are plenty of people that fall well above (or below) that average.”

It’s hard to pin down a specific figure because there are many factors — physical and psychological — that can affect the duration of an erection.

How you’re feeling, for starters. If you aren’t sufficiently aroused, that can make it hard to, well, stay hard. Same goes for feeling stressed, anxious, distracted, or tired.

Relationship woes or feeling uncomfortable with your body or your partner can also make your arousal — and boner — take a nosedive.

Your age, mental and physical health, and lifestyle also play a role.

Specifics include:

Yes, though what constitutes ‘too fast’ depends on whom you ask and what their desired endgame is.

If you’re unable to stay erect long enough to have satisfying penetrative sex, then that’s considered too fast — assuming you and your partner care to have penetrative sex, of course.

If you’re trying to conceive, then not being able to maintain an erection long enough to ejaculate would be considered too fast.

Otherwise, how long your erection lasts shouldn’t matter.

You don’t need an erection to have satisfying sex or to achieve orgasm, and sex isn’t just about penetration anyway. *mic drop*

If vaginal intercourse is your endgame, here’s some perspective: Research shows that P-in-V sex typically only lasts 5.4 minutes.

Yep — 4 hours is too long, and it’s called priapism.

Priapism is a medical emergency. Without treatment there’s a possibility of permanent erectile dysfunction (ED) and tissue death. Yikes!

There are two types of priapism. Other symptoms depend on the type:

  • Ischemic priapism. This type typically presents with pain and an erect shaft with a soft glans — aka head.
  • Non-ischemic priapism. This one isn’t painful, but while the shaft is erect, it isn’t fully rigid.

If you have an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours, go to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center. A doctor or other healthcare professional can determine the type of priapism and the cause, as well as recommend appropriate treatment.

Causes, BTW, are many and pretty random. They range from trauma to the area and underlying medical conditions, to certain medications, to the toxic effects from a scorpion or spider bite. See? Random.

Yep, though how long it takes isn’t the same for everyone, says Simhan.

He explains: “Erections are timed to decrease following orgasm in people with penises. They then go through a period called ‘latency’ which prevents them from building another erection. Latency periods are short in young, healthy people and can be much longer the older they get.”

Yes and no. You may be able to become erect more than once, but you likely won’t be able to ejaculate, or come, without experiencing a latency period.

Remember: Orgasm and ejaculation are very different things.

Biology dictates how much you can ejaculate in one session, but if you’re having a good time and enjoy what you’re feeling, you can definitely orgasm more than once.

“Sure, there are old tricks like the ‘start-stop’ method,” says Simhan. “Or there are prescription medications that can be given to help patients who lose their erection too quickly due to early ejaculation.”

The start-stop technique is also referred to as “edging,” which involves stimulating the penis until you’re about to orgasm and then stopping all sexual stimulation until the urge passes.

Repeating this several times per sesh can help you learn to control and delay orgasm so your erection lasts longer. You can use this method with a partner or solo.

There’s also the squeeze technique, which is pretty much the same idea, except that you hold the tip of the penis until the sensation to climax subsides.

Some other tips that might help:

Absolutely! Everyone deserves a fulfilling sex life.

If the duration of your erections is causing you stress, impacting your sex life, or preventing you and your partner from being able to conceive, make an appointment with a healthcare provider.

They can help diagnose an underlying condition that may be impacting your ability to stay hard.

If you suspect a psychological issue could be to blame, like stress, anxiety, or relationship woes, ask your provider for a referral to a sex therapist.

You can also find someone local through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT).

Boners are as individual as the people they hang from, so don’t get too hung up on how long they’re ~supposed~ to last based on locker room talk or explicit videos.

Pleasure can be had and given even when your peen isn’t standing at attention.


Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a Canada-based freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed-up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.