Understanding Erections and How Long They Can Last

Today, we will delve into the science of erections by explaining how they work, discussing factors that can influence how long they last. Read on to learn more! 

Published Jun 28 2023 3 min read

An erection is a natural and essential physiological process that occurs in the male body. It is a vital component of sexual health and can significantly impact a man's self-esteem, relationships, and overall well-being. 

Today, we will delve into the science of erections by explaining how they work, discussing factors that can influence how long they last, and providing information on the average duration of an erection: 

How erections work 

An erection occurs when there is an increase in blood flow to the penis, causing it to become rigid and engorged. This process begins with sexual arousal, which can be triggered by visual, auditory, or physical stimuli, as well as thoughts or fantasies. The arousal sends signals from the brain to the nerves in the penis, leading to the release of nitric oxide. This chemical causes the smooth muscles in the blood vessels of the penis to relax, allowing for increased blood flow into the erectile tissue known as the corpora cavernosa. As the blood fills the corpora cavernosa, the pressure increases, causing the penis to expand and become erect. Meanwhile, the veins that usually drain blood from the penis are compressed, trapping the blood within the penis and maintaining the erection. 

Factors that affect erection duration 

Various factors can influence how long an erection lasts, and they can be broadly categorized as physical, psychological, and lifestyle-related factors: 

1. Physical factors

Age is a significant factor in erection duration, as older men tend to experience a gradual decline in erectile function. This can be due to reduced testosterone levels, decreased blood flow, or other age-related health issues like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Medical conditions affecting the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, can also impact erection duration. Additionally, certain medications, like antidepressants and blood pressure medications, can affect erectile function. 

2. Psychological factors

Mental health plays a crucial role in sexual performance. Anxiety, stress, and depression can all contribute to difficulties maintaining an erection. Performance anxiety, in particular, can create a vicious cycle where a man becomes increasingly worried about his ability to maintain an erection, which in turn, makes it more difficult to do so. 

3. Lifestyle factors

Unhealthy lifestyle choices can negatively impact erectile function. Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug use can all contribute to reduced blood flow and decreased erection duration. Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can also have negative effects on erectile function, as both can contribute to cardiovascular issues and reduced blood flow. 

Average duration of erections 

It's essential to note that there is no "normal" duration for an erection, as it can vary significantly between individuals and situations. However, studies have provided some general guidelines for what can be considered typical. 

One study found that the average duration of an erection during penis in vagina sexual intercourse is around 5.4 minutes. This duration can be influenced by factors like age and sexual experience. 

During sleep, men typically experience several erections, which can last around 25-35 minutes. These nocturnal erections are not related to sexual arousal but are thought to be important for maintaining healthy penile tissue. 


Understanding the science of erections and factors that can affect their duration is essential for maintaining sexual health and overall well-being. By being aware of these factors, men can take steps to improve their erectile function and address any underlying issues that may be contributing to difficulties in maintaining an erection. If you're concerned about your erection duration, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine the appropriate course of action. 

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