When I’m at social gatherings and meet new people they are usually fascinated once they learn that I’m a urologist. My favorites are the dudes who can’t hide a smile of joy and anticipation as they state, “Can I ask you a question? How long can the average man stay erect?”
I won’t lie. I have a really fun job. And yes, some great stories and inside information about your main man below the belt.
Now as a professional, there are rules of engagement. Privacy is non-negotiable. Any details that hint at a specific person’s issues are off the table. Second, nothing mean-spirited. It’s embarrassing enough to drop your pants in front of the doctor.
(Inside information . . . after seeing your junk we forget about it in 10 seconds 99% of the time).
With those guidelines, let’s have some fun and get some real answers to the following questions:
How long can the average man stay erect?
Before we discuss performance measures, let’s review some terminology and normal human physiology so we’re all on the same page.
A normal erection occurs when a man is sexually aroused and the brain sends signals to the penis. These signals require adequate hormones (testosterone), blood vessels and nerve function. Once the blood vessels receive a “GO” message from the nerves they dilate or open up. This causes an increased blood flow to the penis.
As the erectile chambers fill with blood and expand, small veins inside the chambers are squeezed shut. This prevents a leak of blood out of the penis and keeps it rigid. During a normal erection blood continues to cycle in and out of the penis but at a rate that keeps your man at attention.
How long does an erection last? It depends. At night men typically have 3-5 erections lasting up to 30 minutes (dang that would be nice). These nighttime erections (nocturnal penile tumescence is the fancy doctor term) occur during REM sleep as the sympathetic nervous system settles down.
This also explains why you wake up with “morning wood”. Typically we wake up during or right after REM sleep. A full bladder that wakes us up is also associated with nighttime erections.
Enough about sleep though. You still want to know, “how long can the average man stay erect?” Patience my friend. We still have to cover some important topics that men confuse.
It is important to understand the following:
- An erection simply refers to a “hard penis”.
- Ejaculation is the shooting out of fluid (semen) which is distinct from . . .
- Orgasm or the pleasurable feeling typically experienced during ejaculation.
- It is NORMAL for most men to lose their erection (become flaccid) AFTER ejaculation and orgasm.
In general, the average man can stay erect until he achieves an orgasm.
Further complicating the discussion, many men (50% by age 50) have some degree of erectile dysfunction and lose erections BEFORE ejaculation. On the other end, some men can maintain an erection after ejaculation.
“UGGGHH!!! You’re killing me doc! Just answer the question and give me a number!!!!”.
No problem. The answer lies in the following question:
How long should a man last in bed?
Now I’ve got some numbers for you. A study was conducted in 5 countries of 500 heterosexual couples in stable relationships over a 4 week time period. They measured how long the men lasted in bed from the time of vaginal insertion until ejaculation/orgasm.
The study concluded that the average man lasts:
Not the number you were expecting. Was it? Now there was some variance.
The average time from start to finish decreased significantly with age. There was also a large range from 30 seconds (no fun but we can help) up to 44 minutes (sounds fun but exhausting).
The results of this study may not translate to all scenarios. The researchers looked specifically at vaginal intercourse. The length of an erection during masturbation or other forms of sexual stimulation can vary.
What happens if you are erect for too long?
If an erection is caused by sexual arousal, normal physiology (no pills, rings, devices, underlying diseases) and is not painful, then there is no harm to having an erection for as long as you can maintain it. Just don’t fall down face first or bump it against a hot stove.
An abnormal erection not caused by sexual stimulation is called priapism. Named after the Greek god Priapus (check out the picture of his junk . . . impressive), priapism is a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention if > 4 hours and painful.
The most common type of priapism is ischemic or low-flow. These are fancy doctor terms for “your penis is not getting fresh blood with oxygen and hurts because damage is occurring.”
If you are erect for too long then permanent ED can occur (not good).
The primary causes of priapism include:
- Medications (rare with Viagra, more common with penile injections)
- Drugs (cocaine)
- Sickle cell anemia
- Idiopathic (fancy doctor term for “we don’t know”)
There’s a less common type of priapism called high-flow priapism. This is typically caused by a trauma to the pelvic region and is usually not painful.
Does Viagra (sildenafil) keep you hard after orgasm?
Don’t forget that it is NORMAL TO GO SOFT AFTER ORGASM. Some young dudes have unreasonable expectations when it comes to performance in the bedroom.
Most men have a refractory period. This means there’s a waiting period between penis goes flaccid after orgasm and your buddy is ready for round 2 in the bedroom.
In some men however, using pills like Viagra can help a man maintain his erection after orgasm. One study looked at using a small dose of Viagra in young men without ED. Although the men didn’t report better erections, they did have a shorter refractory period on Viagra.
What happens if Viagra (sildenafil) doesn’t work?
This is where a number of the digital men’s clinics and online pill pushers leave you hanging (excuse the pun but I couldn’t help myself). The pills don’t always work. Or more often, they work initially then stop working.
Patients often ask “will my body get used to Viagra?” Your body doesn’t necessarily become “immune” or accustomed to the Viagra. When Viagra stops working, it means that your erectile dysfunction is getting worse.
Why does ED get worse over time?
The most common cause of erectile dysfunction (ED) is atherosclerosis, the same disease process that causes heart attacks and strokes. The main risk factors for atherosclerosis are:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Since we haven’t solved the aging dilemma, and most people don’t make the necessary changes to improve these other conditions, ED tends to worsen over time.
When Viagra doesn’t work, a board-certified urologist can provide you with some solutions. These may include:
- Vacuum erection devices (VED) – the famed penis pump
- Penile injections (I know “ouch” but they don’t hurt as bad as you’d think)
- Surgery (penile prosthesis)
- Restorative therapies (penile shockwaves and PRP injections)
Although these are interesting and sometimes fun discussions to have in the hypothetical, there are millions of men suffering with feelings of inadequacy in the bedroom. It doesn’t have to be this way.
A virtual visit with a compassionate VirtuCare expert can answer your questions in a professional manner. Many times we simply provide reassurance. In other instances, there are therapies that can improve your performance in the bedroom.
Whoever said that “a dog is man’s best friend” got it wrong. At VirtuCare we are here for you and your best pal . . . in your pants.