How To Maintain An Erection & Stay Hard For Longer

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Problems getting and keeping an erection?

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Most men occasionally cannot get hard or stay hard for as long as they would like. The reasons for this can vary, ranging from physical to psychological factors, or even a mixture or both. If you are struggling to get and keep an erection, the first port of call should be to determine the root cause. This allows for an appropriate plan to be put into place to address the issue, so that it can be treated accordingly.


How to keep hard erections and stay hard for longer

A hard erection happens when the soft tissues inside your penis fills with blood when you are sexually aroused. How hard your erection is and how long it lasts vary amongst men and are influenced by different factors. Smoking, obesity, and medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol, can all affect the flow of blood to your penis and impact your erection.

How to maintain an erection for longer - 13 tips

Lose weight

Being overweight or obese is associated with higher rates of ED in men of all ages. The negative health effects of obesity include high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes. These can all significantly increase your risk of erectile dysfunction.

Obese men tend to have lower levels of the male sex hormone testosterone. This generally results in a reduction in sexual desire and can contribute to ED.

Some studies show a clear link between weight loss and improvements in erection quality and sexual performance. Losing weight can improve your sex life.


Exercise can improve your sexual response as well as make you feel more confident about your body. Physical exercise increases blood flow around your body including to your penis.

Recent research suggests that physical activity and exercise improve patient-reported erectile dysfunction, particularly aerobic exercise with moderate-to-vigorous intensity. Aerobic exercise increases your heart rate. Examples include swimming, walking, running and skipping.

Pelvic floor exercises strengthen your pelvic muscles. They can make your erections firmer with an improved blood flow into your groin. They may also help you to stay hard as you can better control your pelvic muscles.

Stop smoking

Smoking can damage your blood vessels. The chemical nicotine in tobacco is a vasoconstrictor. This means it reduces blood flow throughout your body. To achieve and maintain an erection you need a consistent flow of blood through the arteries of your penis. Therefore, smoking can make it much more difficult to stay hard during sex.

If you are a smoker and you're having trouble in the bedroom, quitting smoking can improve your sexual performance and reduce ED symptoms.

Drink less alcohol

Drinking alcohol reduces your sexual sensitivity and performance. Heavy drinking of alcohol before sex can make it harder for you to get and keep an erection. Limiting or avoiding alcohol may reduce your risk of ED and improve your sexual response.

Every man’s tolerance of alcohol is different.  One or two drinks typically won’t affect your performance and may help to keep you calm. However, consider reducing your alcohol intake if you are trying to get a rock hard erection, and keep it.

Improve your diet

Following certain diets or eating specific foods may help ED. Eating a healthy heart diet can help support penile health.

A review of four studies published by the Central European Journal of Urology in 2017 found that following a Mediterranean diet helped to preserve sexual function and prevent ED in males. This diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds. It uses olive oil as its source of fat. Simple sugars, salt, refined carbohydrates, saturated fats and heavily processed or fatty meats are limited.

Look to increase your intake of foods that are associated with improving erections. For example, spinach, lettuce and several other vegetables are rich in nitrates. They promote blood flow and may increase this to your penis. Oysters and other shellfish are rich in the mineral zinc that is linked to higher levels of testosterone and may increase sexual desire. High sexual drive is likely to cause a harder erection that you are more likely to keep for longer.

L-arginine is an amino acid that’s found in meat and other sources of protein. It is used to create nitric oxide that relaxes your penis smooth muscle and allows you to get and maintain an erection when you’re sexually aroused. Foods rich in flavonoids such as cocoa, strawberries and blueberries are also associated with a reduced risk of developing ED.

Rest well

Research suggests that erectile dysfunction can be a consequence of several sleep disorders. It is thought that poor sleep reduces testosterone levels, and this impacts a man’s sexual behaviour and libido. Disrupted sleep, lack of sleep and sleep disorders can reduce your sexual function.

Good quality sleep may reduce ED and improve sexual performance. You could try keeping to a sleep routine including going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, turning off screens an hour beforehand and avoiding caffeinated drinks in the evening.

Stress less

Chronic stress can cause ED. Stress and anxiety can be a mental distraction and make it difficult to get into the mood and focus on sex. Stress can interrupt how your brain sends messages to your penis. This can restrict blood flow and reduce the firmness and duration of an erection.

Men can also develop performance anxiety about getting and maintaining an erection and this can contribute to a cycle of ongoing ED.

If you suffer from stress, anxiety or performance anxiety you can make lifestyle changes that promote relaxation and seek professional help for support.

Talk to your partner

Talking to your sexual partner about any performance concerns or sexual issues may help improve your erections. Knowing that there are no expectations and that you have the full support from your partner can help to take the pressure off, making it easier to perform.

Seeing a sex therapist, with or without a partner, may also help you to resolve any issues and help you to improve erections.

Try medication

Many men affected by ED find that medication can be useful to help get a hard and stay hard (if you have trouble in keeping an erection). The main options include Sildenafil (brand name Viagra), Tadalafil (brand name Cialis), Vardenafil (brand name Levitra) and Avanafil (brand name Spedra). Each has pros and cons and it is worth investigating them in detail. Talk with your GP or pharmacist to determine which would suit you and your lifestyle the best.

Take supplements

There is not much research and no conclusive data to support the taking of supplements to treat ED or improve sexual performance. However, some research shows that some supplements may improve ED symptoms.

Vitamins B3, B9, C and D are linked to improving blood flow, and supporting the production of male hormones, such as testosterone. Zinc may help regulate testosterone levels in some men, which may help with ED symptoms.

Stress-relieving supplements such as magnesium and supplements including ZMA that enhance the quality of your sleep, which can also support erectile health.

If you have ED and are considering taking supplements, you should talk with your doctor or pharmacist first to discuss options and doses.

Try a cock ring

A cock ring is a band that fits around the base of your penis to help maintain your erection. It works by slowing down the drainage of blood from your penis, allowing you to maintain an erection. Cock rings and ED medications, ED devices or vacuum pumps can help you to keep an erection for longer.

Or a penis pump

A penis pump helps draw blood into your penis to strengthen your erection. It can be used with ED medication, like Viagra.

Watch less porn

Some evidence suggests that watching too much pornography can cause ED. It gives an unrealistic perception of what “normal” sex is like, reducing arousal from real life sexual experiences.  


Why can't I stay hard? 

Most men have experienced losing an erection at some point and much of the time, it’s nothing to worry about. These things do happen from time to time. However, some men have persistent or recurring problems with sexual function. There are several causes for this that tend to be grouped into lifestyle, health, and other factors.



Obesity can cause high blood pressure, heart disease, cholesterol and diabetes. These cardiovascular health problems can increase your risk of ED.


Smoking can affect your erections. The nicotine in cigarettes can cause your blood vessels to narrow. This reduces the amount of blood that can flow into your penis when you’re sexually aroused. It leads to slower and weaker erections that have a higher risk of being lost during sex.

Smoking also contributes to the build-up of plaque inside your arteries. This reduces blood flow and increases the risk of ED.


Studies show a link between chronic and persistent alcohol use and sexual dysfunction. Alcohol constricts your blood flow and makes it more difficult to get and keep an erection.

Poor diet

A poor diet can affect your erections. Foods that are high in fats can lead to high cholesterol. Sugar can lower your libido by reducing testosterone levels. Sodium rich foods can lead to high blood pressure. Overeating can lead to excess weight and obesity. Carrying extra pounds can increase your chances of developing ED.

The foods you eat, when you eat them and how often can all affect your energy levels, blood flow and hormones. Eating a healthy diet can help you achieve and maintain an erection.


Many recreational drugs can affect a man's erection. The most common types of recreational drugs that are linked to ED include alcohol, nicotine, amphetamines, barbiturates, cocaine, marijuana and heroin.  

Lack of exercise

A sedentary lifestyle is a proven risk factor for ED. A lack of exercise makes it harder to control your weight and can lead to cardiovascular disease. Both of which are contributors to ED. Low physical activity can also impact your sexual desire and ability to perform well in bed.


General Health

Many different health conditions can affect your nerves, muscles or blood flow that are required to get and maintain an erection. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, obesity, spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Peyronie's disease and sleep disorders can contribute to ED. Surgery to treat prostate, bladder or spinal cord problems can also affect the nerves and blood vessels that control an erection.


Sexual excitement and desire begin in your head. Psychological disorders such as depression, stress and anxiety can dampen your sexual desire and lead to ED. Unfortunately, many drugs used to treat psychological problems can also suppress your sex drive and make it harder to get an erection.

Emotional issues and dwindling sexual attraction in a relationship can also lead to ED.

Other reasons why you can’t stay hard

Medication you are taking

Certain medication can affect your ability to get or maintain an erection. The most common types of medication linked to ED include antidepressants, high blood pressure medication, medication used to treat Parkinson’s disease and chemotherapy.  You should talk to your health care provider if you think that a drug is affecting your sexual performance.


There is a correlation between age and the risk of ED. It is thought that age itself does not cause ED, but underlying issues that are more likely to arise as you get older are likely to contribute to ED. Older men with a healthy lifestyle and no chronic disease have a lower risk of ED.

Performance anxiety

A negative self-image and worrying that you won't be able to get or maintain an erection in bed can make it harder for you to do just that. This performance anxiety can spiral into a vicious cycle that puts a big strain on your sex life. It can even make you fear and avoid intimacy and be too anxious to attempt sex.

There may not even be a reason

Erection problems are very common, particularly in men aged over 40. If it happens occasionally, it is usually nothing to worry about. However, if it continues to happen regularly you should see your GP. Not only will it cause frustration in the bedroom but it could be a sign of a more serious problem.


Why can't I stay hard for long?

Losing an erection can be very frustrating. You might feel like you cannot last as long as you or your partner would like, or that you have a timer counting down once sex starts, taking the fun out of the experience. If you are having problems staying hard in the bedroom you will want to understand the reasons why. Often, it is the same explanation of why you can’t get hard in the first place. Not being able to stay hard is associated with the blood flow to your penis. You need a healthy supply of blood to enter the penis and stay there.   

Not staying hard for long is very often due to influences such as your general health, your lifestyle and your psychological wellbeing. Understanding the cause of your erectile dysfunction can help you to improve your performance in the bedroom.

Improving your health and making lifestyle changes can increase your sexual responsiveness. For example, eating well, exercising, quitting smoking, reducing alcohol, getting quality sleep and easing stress can improve your cardiovascular health and erections.

Understanding and treating psychological problems can help you to stay harder for longer. Problems in a relationship, your emotional mood and performance anxiety can cause you to lose an erection. Sometimes you can lose an erection for no reason but your anxiety around this can lead to ED. Sex counsellors and therapists can work with you to help identify and work through the psychological barriers that are causing you to lose your erection quicker that you would like. 


Erections are difficult to get and maintain after drinking

Drinking too much can make it difficult to get hard and can seriously impact your sexual performance.

Alcohol is a depressant. This means it slows your Central Nervous System (CNS) and signals from your brain to your penis slow down or stop altogether. Alcohol constricts your blood flow and makes it more difficult to get hard and stay hard.


At what age does a man stop getting hard?

Erectile dysfunction will visit every man at some time in his life. It tends to happen as men get older but the age this happens at will vary. It is estimated that by the time a man is in his 40’s, he has about a 40% chance of having some form of ED and this prevalence increases about 10% per decade thereafter. 

As you get older, the natural ageing process means all parts of your body begin to slow down and the likelihood of developing a health condition is greater. Health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and high blood pressure can impact your ability to get hard.


Pills to help stay harder for longer

The main erection pills that help you to stay harder for longer are:


Sildenafil is probably the best-known ED pill, known by its brand name Viagra (or more informally, the blue pill). You take it around 60 minutes before sex. On average, it works for four hours. Sildenafil is available over the counter in all pharmacies so you can walk in for a consultation with a pharmacist to purchase this medication. Alternatively, it can be purchased online after completing an online questionnaire.


Tadalafil is also known by its brand name Cialis. You take it 30 minutes before sex. It can last for up to 36 hours. Tadalafil is also available as a daily pill known as tadalafil daily, which is taken every day and allows you to get an erection without the need for scheduling doses. This allows for more sexual spontaneity.


Vardenafil is also known by its brand name, Levitra. You take it 25 minutes before sex. It can last 4 to 6 hours. Vardenafil is recommended if you have diabetes.


Avanafil is also known by its brand Spedra (yes, owing to the speed at which it takes to work). It works in as little as 15 minutes and usually lasts around four hours.

Whilst there are a number of different treatments available, the best pill to stay hard is the one that suits you best. It may take a bit of trial and error to find out which pill suits you best. 


How to get hard quick

To get hard quick, your penis will rely on a healthy supply of blood. The rate at which blood fills the penis is influenced by physical health, as well as psychology. For example, if ED is caused by obesity, alcohol consumption or smoking, then losing weight, reducing alcohol intake, and quitting smoking can help you to get an erection quicker. ED improves as your general health does, and you are more likely to get an erection quicker by making lifestyle changes. Treating psychological issues can be more challenging, however, psychosexual counselling and therapy is an effective way of overcoming mental barriers and challenges.

Sexual stimulation is another important factor in getting hard quick. You need a high level of sexual stimulation, which sends messages to your brain to release chemicals that increase blood flow to your penis and cause an erection. You can be sexually stimulated in a variety of ways including:

Mental stimulation

This is having sexually arousing thoughts. In order to do this, you need to stop stressful or practical thoughts and focus on thinking about things that will stimulate you.

Physical stimulation

This is sexual excitement from being touched. Sexual activity such as foreplay with your partner should help to get you in the mood. You could try new ways with your partner to physically stimulate and create a spark and excitement to help you get hard quick. Foreplay can help you to get a harder erection that is likely to stay hard for a longer period.

Visual stimulation

Visual stimulation acts as a stimulus for getting sexually excited. Watching your partner can help you to get warmed up and your brain sends messages to allow blood to start entering the penis and cause an erection. To get hard quick, let your partner know what gets you excited and, in the mood, to allow for a rush of blood which will cause an erection.


How to stay hard after ejaculation

After ejaculation, there is an interlude when a man is no longer able to have an erection. This is called the refractory period, which affects all men. ED medication can help to reduce the refractory period after orgasm and help you to become hard again sooner after ejaculation.


A harder erection means a bigger erection

Whilst it is not possible to physically increase the size of your penis, the maximum amount of blood entering the penis will allow for a harder erection that will be bigger in size, than an erection that has not reached its full potential.


How to stay hard: The verdict

When it comes to getting hard and staying hard, your health and lifestyle play an important role. Age, health conditions, medications and drugs, smoking, alcohol, being overweight, poor diet and a lack of physical exercise are all recognised as risk factors for ED.

Psychological factors are also major contributors to erectile problems. This is referred to as psychological impotence. Some of the most common psychological causes of ED include stress, anxiety, relationship problems, depression, performance anxiety and low self-esteem.

Getting hard and staying hard is a common issue in men. However, this topic tends to be avoided due to embarrassment. There are many men that experience this, and you are not alone.

Often, erection problems caused by stress, anxiety, tiredness or drinking too much alcohol do not last and are nothing to worry about if action is taken soon enough. If you continue to have trouble getting an erection, speak to your doctor or pharmacist for support. There are several options available to help.

Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.