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Male erection & its problem: How it works, duration, Cause and Treatments

Male erection & its problem: How it works, duration, Cause and Treatments
Published : Jun 26, 2024

A male erection occurs when his sexual organ is engorged with blood and enlarged due to sexual stimulation or no specific reason. The penile erection lasts for a few minutes or just half an hour, but this can differ between individuals, as several factors might affect it. After you ejaculate, erections go away but might go away without ejaculating.  

Anatomy of the male sexual organ

To understand how an erection occurs, it is essential to know what the male reproductive organ is made of. It includes:

  • Two chambers, known as corpora cavernosa, run the length of the male reproductive organ and comprise blood vessels shaped like sponges. The sponge-like spaces are filled with blood. 

  • The urethra, or tube that is responsible for carrying pee and semen, runs along the underside of your corpora cavernosa. 

  • Erectile tissue, two main arteries, and numerous veins & nerves.  

  • The shaft is the longest part of the male sexual organ.

  • The head, also called glans, is present at the end of the shaft.

  • The meatus, or opening at the tip of the head, is where pee and semen come out. 

How does an erection work? 

Men experience erections when the flow of blood to the male reproductive organ increases, causing it to change shape and size. 

There are mainly three stages of an erection:

Soft or flaccid male sexual organ: This is the normal state, and it happens when there is no sexual stimulation through fantasizing, sight, or touch. During this point, blood flow to and from the male sexual organ is considered equal. 

Swollen male reproductive organ: Sexual arousal makes your brain and nerves change the blood vessels and other tissues present in the male sexual organ so that more blood flows in the male reproductive organ than out. During this phase, you will notice that the male sexual organ starts to swell. 

Erect male sexual organ: The male sexual organ becomes erect. Your brain and nerves continue to send more blood to the male reproductive organ and limit blood flow from it. The male sexual organ becomes fully erect and allows you to indulge in manual arousal or vaginal or oral sexual activity. 

However, some physical or psychological problems can prevent you from experiencing an erection or achieving a hard erection for sexual intercourse. 

How often can you experience erections? 

Men can experience erections at any point during the night or day. This might be in response to arousal or can be random. However, it is difficult to tell an average occurrence rate. People might experience more frequent erections during the puberty stage, while older age or men with erectile dysfunction might experience less or no erection. 

It is widespread for men to experience an erection upon waking. This is known as nocturnal penile tumescence. It is considered the standard procedure of the reproductive system and happens due to the effect of sleep cycles and enhanced blood flow while sleeping. 

How long does an erection last? 

You should know there is no set time for the duration of sexual intercourse or how long the erection lasts. Generally, an average erection might last for a few minutes or half an hour. However, this can differ from man to man as several factors are responsible for affection erection duration. 

It is noticed that the average amount of time a man experiences an erection during sexual activity before he ejaculates is almost seven minutes.

Some factors like age, stress, alcohol consumption, and medicines can affect your erection. If you experience an erection for more than four hours, immediately contact the doctor. An erection that lasts for more than four hours is a condition called priapism. 

Factors affecting penile erection

Several factors can cause erection problems. Some of them include:

  • Fatigue

  • Tension

  • Feelings of self-consciousness

  • Distractions

  • Alcohol consumption

  • Erectile dysfunction

  • Premature ejaculation

  • Priapism 

What are the risk factors for lead ED-like erection problems?

Various factors can lead to ED, like erection problems in men, and here are some of the primary factors:

Age: The risk of ED may increase with growing age, particularly in men over 50.

Chronic Diseases: Certain medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, prostate cancer, and high cholesterol can impair blood flow and nerve function in males. You already read above that improper blood flow might have the risk of affecting your sexual response and lead to ED.

Obesity: Being overweight can increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and these two are among the leading risk factors for ED.

Medications: Certain medications, those used for high blood pressure, depression, and prostate conditions, can cause or worsen ED symptoms.

Psychological Factors: Stress, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems may also lead to ED in some men.

Hormonal Imbalances: Men who face low levels of testosterone or other hormonal imbalances can have issues with their sexual function and might face ED.

Physical Injuries and Surgery: Damage to the pelvic area, spinal cord injury, or nerves controlling erections can cause ED. Also, surgical procedures like prostate or bladder can sometimes result in ED and cause erection problems.

Neurological Disorders: Conditions such as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and stroke may damage nerves that are essential for erectile function. Thus, a Neurological Disorder may also lead to erection problems in men.

Lifestyle Factors: Alcohol abuse, smoking, and drug abuse can be contributing factors to ED. Alcoholism and smoking can damage your blood vessels and reduce flow of blood to the penis.

How do you maintain hard erections? 

It is essential to know that erection problems can happen as you age or as you suffer from health disorders. However, if you are facing difficulty in achieving or sustaining hard erections, meet the doctor immediately to get the best treatment plan. 

Here are some easy tips which can help you to maintain hard erections:

  • Choose a healthy diet and maintain good body weight.

  • Take practical steps to manage your high cholesterol levels and treat high blood pressure, heart disease, and health.

  • Pressure and other chronic ailments can affect your ability to achieve hard erections. 

  • Exercise regularly for at least 20 to 30 minutes. 

  • Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption.

  • Reduce your stress levels.

Also, one of the most reliable and convenient medical treatments for the erection problem is oral ED medications. These medications belong to a class of PDE5 Inhibitors and ensure proper blood circulation to the penis by stimulating blood vessels and erectile tissue around the penis. Some of the most popular ED pills available in the market are:

  • Viagra(Sildenafil)

  • Cialis(Tadalafil)

  • Levitra(Vardenafil)

  • Strendra(Avanafil)

These above-listed ED drugs are brand-name drugs, and for some people, they might be somewhat expensive to buy. Generic variants of these ED pills are available in the market, and you can choose from a trusted and reliable online pharmacy.


Thus, to indulge in sexual activity without any interruption, erections are essential. Erections usually start with arousal and go away once arousal stops. If you think you are not able to achieve the hard erections required for sexual intercourse, contact the doctor immediately. In such cases, you may face male sexual dysfunction called Erectile dysfunction, which may affect your sexual life.