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How to Maintain an Erection For 30 Minutes, Say Experts

Five health professionals explain why your penis may not be performing the way you want it to—and offer tips on how to restore proper function.

30-Second Takeaway

  • Getting hard, and staying hard, can be difficult for a range of different reasons—from having low T levels to experiencing psychological blockers.
  • Experts recommend talking to a mental health professional, getting your hormone levels checked, reevaluating your expectations, and introducing toys into the bedroom to help you feel more empowered during sex.

Your penis is a lot like a carton of milk, a Billy Joel concert, or a timed sexy Snapchat in the sense it won’t always last as long as you want it to—and that’s totally normal. If you’re looking for advice on how to maintain an erection for 30 minutes or more, you’ve come to the right place.

Whether your package is as hard as a Sudoku puzzle or as soft as campfire marshmallows (pre-roasted), pleasurable sexual play is possible. After all, sex—no matter what a few X-rated sites might have you believe—is far more than a rock-hard rocket touching down into a tight, round hole. Still, if you and your partner(s) enjoy that particular brand of penetrative play, it makes sense that you’d set your sights on increased stamina in the sheets. 

Ahead, sex educators and urologists who explain the common reasons people don’t last as long as they’d like to in bed. They also offer tips on how to maintain an erection for 30 minutes and improve overall stamina. 

About the Experts

Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D. is a social psychologist, research fellow at The Kinsey Institute,  and author of Tell Me What You Want: The Science of Sexual Desire and How It Can Help You Improve Your Sex Life

Michelle Forcier M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., is a hormone specialist with FOLX, an online health provider.

Andrew Y. Sun M.D., a board-certified urologist, is Chief Medical Advisor for Marius Pharmaceuticals, a health organization helping people achieve healthy testosterone levels.  

Carol Queen, Ph.D., a sexologist and sociologist, is a sex educator with Good Vibes and co-author of The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone.

Justin Houman M.D. is a board-certified urologist who specializes in sexual health, infertility, and erectile dysfunction. He also works as the Senior Medical Advisor at Cake, a sexual wellness platform.

Why Is It Hard for Me to Get, and Stay, Hard?

There are a wide range of reasons that can dictate how long (or short) your erection lasts, from lifestyle choices (excessive drinking, infrequent exercise, unchecked stress) to medical concerns (low testosterone, nerve damage, venous leak, and blood vessel health).

Here are some common factors that make it tricky for penis owners to get up and stay hard for more than a few minutes. 

You may have erectile dysfunction due to low T

“Low testosterone is one of the most well-known causes of erectile dysfunction,” says board-certified urologist, Andrew Y. Sun M.D.

Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in males, playing an essential role in sperm production and also contributes to sex drive and sexual function, Sun explains (1). As T levels dip, people typically experience reduced libido, or interest in sex overall, he says. Thing is, when your sex drive falls short, your body releases less of a molecule called nitric acid. Nitric acid ‘tells’ the muscle that permits blood to flow into the penis to relax, so when there is less nitric, you’re less likely to get hard, too (2). As such, it’s common for people with low T to experience erectile dysfunction.

The most common cause of low testosterone is general aging, Sun says. Research has shown that testosterone levels begin to power down after about age 30, and levels start to naturally decrease at an even faster rate—one to two percent per year—after age 40 (3). 

“Testosterone levels can also decline in response to overall health, such as poor eating habits, poor sleep hygiene, and high stress levels,” he says. They can also decline due to certain medical conditions, including underlying infection, cancer, kidney failure, thyroid dysfunction, and obesity (4). 

“‘Normal’ testosterone ranges are quite broad, as anywhere from 300 to 1100 ng/dL is considered healthy,” says hormone specialist, Michelle Forcier M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P. 

If someone’s T levels fall below this threshold or is experiencing additional symptoms of low testosterone—like loss of muscle mass, increased body fat, generalized fatigue, increased anxiety, and profuse sweating—it’s common for health care providers to prescribe hormone replacement therapy (5). 

Also known as testosterone replacement therapy, this intervention is available in a range of forms, including oral pill, topical gel, patch, pellet implant, or injection, she says. Though oral testosterone treatments have demonstrated efficacy in clinical research and may be the preferred method for some providers, Sun says (6). 

Hone’s test, which you can take from the privacy of your home, can analyze your testosterone levels.

You may have erectile dysfunction due to a psychological block 

If you’re into wellness, you’ve probably heard of the brain-gut connection, but there’s also a brain-boner connection. 

“Sexual function has a lot to do with how we think and feel,” Forcier explains. Broadly speaking, it’s easier to get—and maintain—an erection when we’re feeling fine, she says. As opposed to when you’re feeling down in the dumps, or more seriously, downright depressed.

As such, “being stressed, mentally distracted, having a lack of confidence, being nervous about forthcoming sexual performance, and not feeling safe or comfortable with your partner are all common causes of erectile dysfunction,” she says. 

The exact fix here is going to depend on what’s causing the psychological block. If, for example, you’re not currently feeling comfortable with your partner because you’re mid-tiff, the issue may remedy itself through conversation and reconnection. Meanwhile, if you’re feeling unsafe because your partner constantly makes jabs at your performance, this issue won’t resolve until the behavior stops, or you leave that relationship altogether. 

That said, generally working on overall mental well-being, stress-reduction, and improved sense of self can be helpful, according to urologist Justin Houman M.D.

“Mindfulness practices and techniques like meditation can help manage stress and anxiety, which are common psychological causes,” he says. “For those with a significant psychological component to their ED, speaking with a therapist can also be beneficial.” 

You may have an underlying health condition 

Erections often occur in response to a sexual stimulus. A flaccid penis will become hard so long as there’s proper nerve and blood function. 

In healthy folks, the brain sends nerve signals to the penis upon arousal, which informs the muscles to relax enough to allow blood inside, Sun explains. Once the penis is swollen with blood, the vein shuts off, to keep the blood from flowing out, he says. 

If you have any underlying nerve or blood vessel damage—or a disorder such as venous leak—that keeps this operation from running according to plan, your penis will not be able to either get hard or stay hard, he says. 

“Diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and pelvic surgery like prostate cancer surgery or radiation can all impact nerve activity and/or blood vessel health, and thus impact erectile functioning,” he says (7

You may be bored with your sex life

It’s difficult to get mentally, emotionally, or physiologically prepared for sex when you’re not excited about having it, says social psychologist Justin Lehmiller, Ph.D. 

“It’s normal to experience arousal difficulties if you’ve grown bored with the sex you’re having, or if it isn’t meeting your particular needs,” he says. 

Expecting yourself to crave mediocre sex when you know great sex exists is unfair. The good news is that it’s possible to zhuzh up a stale sex life. A good place to start is to talk with your partner, Lehmiller explains. 

“Being vulnerable and acknowledging that it’s a tricky thing for you to talk about can help set the stage for the conversation,” he says. 

You may not need to last as long as you think have to

There are some very valid reasons why someone might not be able to last as long as they want. But it’s also possible that your expectations for your erection aren’t reasonable. 

There are many people who actually have very healthy, normal sex drives, stamina, and erectile function, who believe that they have ED due to cultural misconceptions around how long someone should last, sexologist and sociologist Carol Queen, Ph.D. says.

“There is so much noise about erections and how long they should last that many people think they have a problem when they actually do not,” she says.  

In fact, research has proven that our cultural obsession with the marathon mega-hard is nothing more than an overdone myth. In one older study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers concluded that anywhere from three to 13 minutes was totally normal, and not cause for alarm (8). 

That’s right, a hard-on can last less time than your fave Creed song and still be considered A-OK. 

Improve Your Sex Life

Make Your Erection Last

1. Reevaluate your expectations 

Think about why you want a 30-minute erection in the first place. “Aiming for an erection lasting more than 30 minutes can be unrealistic and may not be beneficial,” Houman says. In fact, focusing too much on this aspect can lead to performance anxiety and detract from the overall quality of the sexual experience, he says. 

Further, there is no research that suggests that people who have 30-minute long erections have better nor more pleasurable sex than everyone else. In fact, the aforementioned The Journal of Sexual Medicine study actually found that 10 to 30-minute-long erections often feel too long to sex-havers (8).

Some questions you might ask yourself to get to the root of this expectation, include: 

 To be clear: If you naturally maintain a 30-minute long erection and are reading this, know that can also be normal—so long as you’re not experiencing any pain, Sun says. 

“If the erection is painful or if it lasts for more than two hours, you should go to the emergency room,” he says. This could indicate that the blood in the penis that caused the erection is trapped, which can cause permanent damage to the penis and lead to further erectile dysfunction in the future too. “It’s important to address the problem quickly,” he says. 

2. Talk to a professional

The occasional bout of soft schlong is both common and normal. But, “if you find that you’re having persistent erectile difficulties across sexual situations over a period of months, you need to schedule a visit with a healthcare provider,” Lehmiller says. 

Regular difficulty is a sign of clinical erectile dysfunction, and can also be an early warning sign of cardiovascular disease, he says (9). “So, it’s important to get checked out both in the interest of resolving the erectile problem, but also in terms of taking care of your overall health.” 

In this instance, a primary care provider is a sound first doctor to see. If needed, they will outsource you to someone who specializes in cardiovascular or urological care. 

3. Be patient 

Once you know for sure that you have ED, you get to experiment with a wide variety of solutions. 

“The best solution varies from person to person, and depends on factors like their preferences and the severity of the ED symptoms,” Lehmiller says. There are medical options (pills and implants), mechanical options (cock rings and penis pumps), and toy options (strap-ons and penis extenders), he says. 

Given that there are a slew of different treatments and everyone responds differently, that means you’re going to need to be a little more patient with your penis than you might want to be. If you want your sex life to be a marathon not a sprint, you have to be OK with your ED treatment being at that pace, too. 

4. Consider medical intervention

There are many well established medical interventions that can help with erectile dysfunction, Sun says. 

One of the mainstays of treatment for erectile dysfunction is a type of drug called phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors, known colloquially as oral PDE-5’s, which promote blood flow to the penis and lungs (10). “These medications go by names like Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil) and are usually the first line drug of choice for ED,” he says. 

While PEDs are generally just taken during ‘game-time’, some (like tadalafil) can also be taken at a much lower dose—usually just 5 milligrams—in a daily fashion. “By taking low dose tadalafil daily, you actually improve the baseline blood flow inside the penis all the time, which leads to stronger erections when you want or need to have one,” explains Sun. 

5. Look into pleasure products 

Pleasure products can be used to help support your overall arousal and erectile strength and function, and to make penetrative play accessible to you and your partner even when your penis isn’t at full throttle, says Dr. Queen. 

A great starter product is a vibrator like the Le Wand, We-Vibe Touch, or FemmeFunn Lola G, which are intuitively designed and can be used on a wide variety of body parts. You can use a vibrator to stimulate your partner, as well as touch your penis with it to aid in your own arousal, she says. 

Another option is a C-ring like the Lelo Tor 2 and Je Joue Silicone Ring. Available in vibrating and non-vibrating options, these aids slide down the shaft of the penis and pressure to the base of the cock helping keep the blood trapped, explains Queen. 

“Often, this helps make your penis firmer, your erection last longer, and can also make you more sensitive,” she says. 

There are also sleeves and strokers that can be used to stimulate your penis, no matter how firm it is (or isn’t). Some sleeves like the Silicone 2” Penis Extension and Fat Boy Checker Box Sheath fit over a soft or semi-hard penis like a mitten, she explains. 

Then, the shaft-stroker combo can be used to support penetrative play. The inside of the toy will stimulate you while a two-in-one penetrator provides a feeling of fullness to your partner. 

6. Lean into other kinds of orgasm

No doubt, regular ‘ole orgasms feel great. But the truth is there are orgasms that don’t require a hard-on, nor feature ejaculation. 

“Orgasms are not dependent on erection, it is possible for someone to cum without ever having an erection,” says Queen. Orgasm is also separate from ejaculation—though they often happen at the same time. “If you often or always experience erectile issues, it’s worth exploring pleasure and orgasms that can come without direct penile stimulation or involvement,” she says. 

One such option is prostate play. The prostate is an erogenous zone located a few inches deep into the body of penis-owners, on the belly-side, she explains. 

“This body part is analogous to the G-zone in people assigned female at birth and stimulating it can result in pleasure as well as prostate orgasm,” she says. “Many people describe prostate orgasms as being full-body orgasms, but they don’t require an erection and do not necessarily entail ejaculation,” she says. 

To get started, you can explore anal fingering. Or, look into incorporating prostate massagers like Aneros Helix Syn Trident or Lelo Bruno into your play, she says. 

As an added bonus: Some people have an easier time getting and maintaining erections when there is no pressure for them to do so, she says.

The Bottom Line

While there’s no question that a long-lasting erection can be part of pleasurable sex,a 30-minute erection isn’t an essential ingredient for orgasmic partnered or solo play. And actually, focusing too much on this aspect can lead to performance anxiety, as well as distract you from all the other types of pleasure within your fingertips (literally).

Still, if you are having a difficult time getting or maintaining an erection, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor because erectile difficulties can be a symptom of another underlying health issue, or even an emotional or mental-related block. In these instances, addressing the underlying issues will help to restore erectile function.

Regardless of the cause, there are a number of lifestyle and medical steps you and your partner(s) can take to help you achieve the erection of your dreams.