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How to Get an Erection Faster & Stay Hard Longer

How to Get an Erection Faster & Stay Hard Longer

As a man, getting and maintaining an erection is an essential element of maintaining a healthy, fulfilling sex life.

Unfortunately, getting and staying hard isn’t always simple as it seems. Every year, tens of millions of men in the United States alone are faced with some level of erectile dysfunction (ED), preventing them from enjoying a normal sex life.

Erectile dysfunction can occur in men of all ages. Statistics show that about 70 percent of men will be affected by ED by the age of seventy. It’s also remarkably common in younger men, with as much as 40 percent of men experiencing some degree of erectile dysfunction by the age of forty.

In short, if you’re finding it more difficult than normal to get an erection quickly and maintain it during sexual activity, you’re not alone.

Luckily, options are available. Below, we’ve listed the most effective, science-backed ways to get hard faster and improve your erection quality, ranging from lifestyle changes to a range of FDA-approved medications.

Diet and Lifestyle Changes for Better Erections

Before considering medication, it’s important to look at your lifestyle and general health. From the food you eat to your level of physical activity and exercise habits, your lifestyle can have a surprisingly big impact on your ability to get an erection and stay hard when you have sex.

Reduce Stress

Stress is closely linked to erectile dysfunction, as well as a range of other sexual performance issues. When you’re stressed, your body undergoes changes on a hormonal level, ramping up your production of the hormone cortisol.

This affects everything from your mental clarity and ability to think critically to your ability to get and maintain an erection.

While there are few studies that specifically track the effects of stress on erection quality, there are several studies linking stress with poor sexual performance. In a ComRes survey, adults in the UK listed stress as the main factor negatively impacting their sex lives.

Our guide to the psychological causes of ED goes into more detail on the effects of stress on your sex life, as well as treatment options. You can also use these stress reduction techniques provided by Harvard Medical School to reduce the effects of stress on your life.

Stop Watching Porn

Believe it or not, your porn watching habits (if you watch porn, of course) could have a negative effect on your sexual performance. In recent decades, a new phenomenon has emerged where young, otherwise healthy men find it difficult to perform sexually when they’re with a partner.

This is called “porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” and it’s a surprisingly significant cause of ED in younger men.

Porn-induced ED occurs when your porn habits start to interfere with the parts of your brain that are associated with reward sensitivity. This can affect your sexual performance and reduce your brain’s response to sexual stimulation.

In a recent study, researchers found that watching pornography is closely linked to both “lower overall sexual satisfaction” and “lower erectile function.” In short, watching porn both reduces your level of sexual enjoyment and could make it harder to get and maintain an erection.

The solution? Consider limiting—or outright stopping—your porn consumption. Our guide to porn and erectile dysfunction explains how you can do this in more detail, with a simple 90-day plan to help you take action and improve your sex life and erection quality.

Exercise Regularly

Erections are all about blood flow. In fact, it takes around six times the normal amount of blood flow to supply your penis with the blood it needs for an erection. When your heart is strong and healthy, the process of getting and maintaining an erection becomes easier for your body.

Because of this, good cardiovascular health is an important part of getting an erection quickly and staying hard during sexual activity.

In a 2018 meta-analysis, researchers found that 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise four times per week is usually sufficient to reduce erectile dysfunction. Over the long term, this level of exercise is also linked to improvements in overall heart health and wellbeing.

In short, there’s no need to commit to an intensive exercise regimen to improve your erections (although, if you’re a gym enthusiast, by all means, go for it). Instead, focus on getting at least four moderately intense workouts per week and maintaining this habit for the long term.

Eat (and Drink) Healthy

Although your diet isn’t as closely linked to erectile dysfunction as factors like your activity level and stress, it can still play a role in helping you get erect faster and maintain an erection (or, if you eat poorly, preventing you from getting hard in the first place).

Erectile dysfunction is closely linked to high blood pressure. This means that foods that increase your blood pressure could have a small but noticeable negative effect on your ability to get hard and maintain an erection during sexual activity.

Common foods that raise blood pressure include deli meats, canned foods, burgers and other fast foods. In short, anything that’s high in sodium is likely to increase your blood pressure and affect blood flow throughout your body.

On the other hand, foods like leafy greens and omega-3 rich fish such as salmon and mackerel can potentially lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health, making these excellent replacements for salty foods.

If you drink alcohol often, reducing your consumption could help to improve your erections and sex life. While a glass or two of wine or beer isn’t likely to hurt your erections, studies show that there’s a real link between chronic and persistent alcohol use and sexual dysfunction.

In short, eat healthy and limit your alcohol consumption. If you’re overweight or obese, it’s also important to consider losing weight, as obesity is one of the most significant risk factors in men for erectile dysfunction.

Quit Smoking

As we’ve mentioned, getting an erection and maintaining it during sex is all about optimal heart health. Very few habits are as bad for your cardiovascular system as smoking, meaning it might be a good time to consider quitting if you’re starting to experience sexual performance issues.

Smoking harms your erections in several ways. First, the nicotine in cigarettes can cause your blood vessels to narrow, reducing the amount of blood that can flow into the soft, erectile tissue of your penis when you’re sexually aroused.

This means slower, weaker erections and a higher risk of losing your erection during sex due to poor blood flow.

Smoking also contributes to atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque inside your arteries. This further reduces your cardiovascular health and harms blood flow, increasing your risk of getting erectile dysfunction.

In short, smoking harms your erection quality and sexual performance from multiple angles, all while damaging your health in general. If you smoke and have ED, it’s important to think about quitting to improve your health, enhance your life and boost your sexual performance.

Sleep More

If you’re a busy person, it’s easy to sleep less than you should. About 35 percent of American adults fail to get the recommended seven-plus hours of sleep per night, with more than 40 percent of people in some states sleeping less than they should.

Sleep deprivation can affect your erection quality in several ways. First, it’s closely associated with higher levels of stress, which can affect your libido and sexual performance. Second, it’s also associated with lower testosterone production, which could potentially contribute to ED.

In short, sleep is very important for maintaining optimal sexual performance. Aim for seven to nine hours per night, especially if you have a busy daytime routine, and you’ll be able to avoid most sleep-related negative effects on your erections.

Medications to Help You Get and Stay Hard

Changes to your lifestyle can help to treat some causes of erectile dysfunction. However, most men affected by ED find that medications also play an important role in helping them get erect faster and stay hard during sex.

Currently, there are three FDA-approved medications for treating ED and improving your sexual performance: Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra).

Our guide to what you should expect from ED medication explains how these medications work in more detail. You can also learn more about each medication and its effects below.

Sildenafil (Viagra)

Sildenafil is the most widely used of the three FDA-approved erectile dysfunction medications. It works by inhibiting PDE5, an enzyme that’s responsible for regulating blood flow to and from the soft, erectile tissue of your penis.

You can find sildenafil sold under the brand name Viagra, though it’s now available as a generic medication. Viagra and generic sildenafil work in exactly the same way.

After you take sildenafil, it takes about one hour to fully start working and wears off after three to five hours. During this period, you’ll usually find it easier to get an erection faster and stay hard during foreplay and sex.

Tadalafil (Cialis)

Tadalafil is another popular medication for improving your erections and helping you to stay hard during sex. It works the same way as sildenafil—by inhibiting the action of the PDE5 enzyme on blood flow to your penis.

You can find tadalafil sold under the brand name Cialis, or as a generic medication. Like Viagra and generic sildenafil, branded Cialis and generic tadalafil work in exactly the same way.

Compared to sildenafil, tadalafil is a long-lasting erectile dysfunction drug. Its effects last for up to 36 hours, making this a good option to consider if you need to treat erectile dysfunction and improve your sexual performance for one or several days at a time.

Vardenafil (Levitra)

Vardenafil is another ED medication with similar effects to sildenafil. It starts working within one hour and lasts for slightly longer than sildenafil, with the effects usually starting to wear off after five to eight hours.

You can find vardenafil sold under the brand name Levitra, or as a generic medication. Both of these medications have the same active ingredient and produce the same effects.

Sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil are all prescription medications, meaning you’ll need to talk to a doctor before using any of them. We’ve covered each of these medications in greater detail in our guide to the most common ED treatments and drugs.

Lidocaine Spray

Lidocaine is a topical anaesthetic that lowers the sensitivity level of specific parts of your penis, helping you last longer in bed. While it won’t help you get hard, it can help you stay harder for longer and avoid reaching orgasm and ejaculating too quickly during sex.

Studies show that when used in combination with sildenafil, lidocaine spray increases the total amount of time before ejaculation. In short, used together, PDE5 inhibitors and lidocaine spray could improve your erections and prevent you from ejaculating earlier than you’d like to.

Our guide to how lidocaine spray works explains this medication in more detail, as well as how you can use it to avoid premature ejaculation and improve your sexual performance.

Learn More About Improving Your Sexual Performance

Improving your sexual performance involves multiple factors. First, there’s your cardiovascular health and overall wellbeing. Second, there are your choices and habits. Finally, if changes to your lifestyle aren’t enough on their own, there are proven, FDA-approved medications.

Since no two people are the same, your path to better sexual performance and longer-lasting erections could involve making changes to one, two or all three of these things.

Our guide to erectile dysfunction covers this topic in more detail, with detailed information on the most common causes of ED and the treatment options that are available. Meanwhile, our guide to the effects of ED drugs explains what to expect if you use these medications.

Important Safety Information


Do not take Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) if you:

  • take any medicines called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain, or guanylate cyclase stimulators like Adempas (riociguat) for pulmonary hypertension. Your blood pressure could drop to an unsafe level
  • are allergic to sildenafil, as contained in Sildenafil and REVATIO, or any of the ingredients in Sildenafil

    Discuss your health with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough for sex. If you experience chest pain, dizziness, or
nausea during sex, seek immediate medical help

    Sildenafil can cause serious side effects. Rarely reported side effects include:

  • an erection that will not go away (priapism). If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, get medical help right away.
If it is not treated right away, priapism can permanently damage your penis
  • sudden vision loss in one or both eyes. Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes can be a sign of a serious eye problem called
non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION). Stop taking Sildenafil and call your healthcare provider right away if you
have any sudden vision loss
  • sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss. Some people may also have ringing in their ears (tinnitus) or dizziness. If you have
these symptoms, stop taking Sildenafil and contact a doctor right away

    Before you take Sildenafil, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have or have had heart problems such as a heart attack,
irregular heartbeat, angina, chest pain, narrowing of the aortic valve, or heart failure
  • have had heart surgery within the last 6 months
  • have pulmonary hypertension
  • have had a stroke
  • have low blood pressure, or high blood pressure that
is not controlled
  • have a deformed penis shape
  • have had an erection that lasted for more than 4 hours
  • have problems with your blood cells such as sickle cell
anemia, multiple myeloma, or leukemia
  • have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare genetic (runs in families)
eye disease
  • have ever had severe vision loss, including an eye problem
called NAION
  • have bleeding problems
  • have or have had stomach ulcers
  • have liver problems
  • have kidney problems or are having kidney dialysis have any other medical conditions

    Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins,
and herbal supplements.

    Sildenafil may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way Sildenafil works, causing side effects.
Especially tell your healthcare provider if you take any of the following:

  • medicines called nitrates
  • medicines called guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas (riociguat)
  • medicines called alpha-blockers such as Hytrin (terazosin
HCl), Flomax (tamsulosin HCl), Cardura (doxazosin
mesylate), Minipress (prazosin HCl), Uroxatral (alfuzosin HCl),
 Jalyn (dutasteride and tamsulosin HCl), or Rapaflo (silodosin).
Alpha-blockers are sometimes prescribed for prostate
problems or high blood pressure. In some patients, the use
of Sildenafil with alpha-blockers can lead to a drop in blood pressure or to fainting
  • medicines called HIV protease inhibitors, such as ritonavir (Norvir), indinavir sulfate (Crixivan), saquinavir (Fortovase or Invirase), or atazanavir sulfate (Reyataz)
  • some types of oral antifungal medicines, such as
 ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • some types of antibiotics, such as clarithromycin (Biaxin),
telithromycin (Ketek), or erythromycin
  • other medicines that treat high blood pressure
  • other medicines or treatments for ED
  • Sildenafil contains sildenafil, which is the same medicine found
in another drug called REVATIO. REVATIO is used to treat a
rare disease called pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).
 Sildenafil should not be used with REVATIO or with other PAH
treatments containing sildenafil or any other PDE5 inhibitors
(such as Adcirca tadalafil)

    Sildenafil does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

    The most common side effects of Sildenafil: headache; flushing; upset stomach; abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision
(such as having a blue color tinge) and blurred vision; stuffy or runny nose; back pain; muscle pain; nausea; dizziness; rash.

    Sildenafil (sildenafil citrate) is prescription medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

    Sildenafil is not for women or children.