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Lifestyle and dietary changes, therapy, and prescription medication can all help maintain harder erections. Whether you want to try options with or without medication, read on for 13 ways to help improve your erectile health.


Holistic options

This article explores lifestyle changes and medication that can help you get a harder erection. If you are looking for convenient products to support your journey, our recommendations are:

It is difficult to determine what is “normal” or average regarding erections. Erect penile length and duration of erection depend on several factors, and you may find it takes you longer to reach orgasm on some days than others.

The average person’s penis is between 5.1 and 5.5 inches when erect. However, researchers say the true average, when considering self-reported bias, is likely on the lower end of the scale.

Researchers tend to measure how long it takes to orgasm through sex to determine the average duration of an erection. Most people will orgasm in 5 to 7 minutes, although some may ejaculate in less than 1 minute or in over half an hour.

Learn more about how erections work and how long they last.

Some medical conditions, such as erectile dysfunction (ED) and premature ejaculation (PE), can affect how often and for how long you have an erection. Whether you have one of these conditions or want to improve your erection, the methods in this article may help.

Speaking with a doctor is the first thing you should consider if you believe your erections are not as hard as they should be. Healthcare professionals can discuss possible causes, run tests, and prescribe medication if necessary.

A doctor can help you determine whether your erections are typical or not and can help prevent potential complications, such as:

  • a lack of enjoyment in your sex life
  • a loss of intimacy in a relationship
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • low self-esteem
  • difficulties conceiving

Some medications can help you get and keep an erection by increasing blood flow to the penis. These are prescription-only medications, so you will need to visit a doctor in person or use a telemedicine service to get a prescription. Doctors may not prescribe them if you take nitrate or alpha-blockers.

Reputable telemedicine options include:

Eating a diet that supports heart health may also help support penile health. According to 2021 research, following the Mediterranean diet could help improve erections in people with ED.

The same risk factors for heart disease, such as obesity and high blood pressure, can also increase the risk of ED. Adopting a Mediterranean diet may help reduce cardiovascular risk factors.

A Mediterranean diet consists of:

  • plenty of fruit and vegetables
  • nuts
  • whole grains
  • legumes, such as lentils, peas, and beans
  • olive oil
  • a moderate intake of fish
  • a moderate amount of alcohol, such as a glass of red wine with a meal
  • a low intake of dairy and meat
  • a low intake of candy

Learn more about foods for better sex.

Foods that cause inflammation can reduce testosterone in the body, which may lead to you finding it more difficult to have and maintain an erection. Some pro-inflammatory foods could include saturated fats, red and processed meats, and refined grains.

Regular exercise helps keep your entire body healthy, inside and out. Exercise increases blood flow to the penis, and researchers suggest people do 40 minutes of supervised aerobic exercise four times per week.

If you are over 40 years old, studies suggest that regular exercise can help prevent ED.

Learn more about exercises that may help treat ED.

Emotional and psychological factors can affect sexual performance. If there is no underlying physical health condition affecting erectile function, mental and emotional factors may be the cause.

These could include issues such as:

  • traumatic previous sexual experiences
  • a lack of attraction to a partner
  • feeling anxiety or pressure to perform well sexually

Sexual performance anxiety is a common cause of sexual problems. Although there has not been much research into potential treatments, cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness, and meditation may all help.

Talking with a sexual partner about any issues may help improve erectile function and relieve any pressure you may feel. Consulting a sex therapist, with or without a partner, may also help people resolve any issues.

Sex does not have to be penetrative to be pleasurable, and anecdotal sources suggest that exploring new approaches to sex may positively affect erections.

For example, the following things may help you get and keep harder erections:

  • using a penis ring or sex toys
  • focusing less on sexual performance and more on pleasurable sensations
  • trying role-play or foreplay to increase arousal
  • exploring erogenous zones such as the ears, lips, neck, breasts, nipples, buttocks, and inner thighs

A 2018 study showed that alcohol can decrease penile sensitivity by depressing the central nervous system and slowing down information from the brain to the penis.

Limiting or avoiding alcohol may help improve erectile function. You may wish to consider planning a romantic occasion without alcohol or avoiding alcohol if it is safe to do so to see if it helps improve your erection.

Anyone concerned about alcohol misuse or alcohol use disorder should speak with a doctor.

Research from 2018 suggests that disrupted sleep, a lack of sleep, and sleep disorders can all affect sexual function.

A 2020 animal study looked at the link between testosterone levels and sleep. The study showed that sleep restriction reduced testosterone levels, which play an important role in sexual behavior and libido. However, results from animal studies may not be fully applicable to humans.

According to a 2020 study on humans, sleep deprivation equal to or more than 24 hours can also decrease testosterone levels, but short-term sleep deprivation may not have significant negative effects.

Ensuring good quality sleep may help improve sexual function. Ways you can help improve sleep include:

  • having a consistent sleep schedule
  • keeping your sleep environment dark, quiet, and at a comfortable temperature
  • avoiding screen use before bed

Learn more about how to improve sleep.

Stress releases cortisol, a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and circulatory systems. Elevated cortisol levels can interfere with the production of testosterone, which is crucial for maintaining libido, sperm production, and overall sexual function. Chronic stress can affect the male reproductive system and may lead to:

  • changes in testosterone production, causing a reduction in sex drive or desire
  • ED

Managing and reducing stress may help improve erectile function. You may find that the following can help:

  • getting regular physical activity
  • having a social support network
  • getting good quality sleep each night
  • trying relaxation and mindfulness techniques

Smoking can reduce blood flow to the penis and increase the risk of ED. Smoking can harm the blood vessels and has a link to heart and blood vessel disease, which can also affect erectile function.

If you smoke, reducing or quitting smoking may help improve erectile function and reduce the risk of experiencing problems.

Choose the best apps to quit smoking.

Certain supplements may help improve erections. Research has looked into yohimbe, Panax ginseng, and maca. However, a 2021 review of 369 studies notes mixed results, and a 2020 review concludes more research is necessary to understand supplement safety and efficacy for ED.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cannot approve dietary supplements or their labeling before companies sell them. This means companies sometimes sell supplements with misleading labels or undisclosed ingredients.

Additionally, supplements can interact with medication and cause side effects.

Always consult a medical professional before taking a supplement to improve or treat a health condition. If you experience side effects, stop taking the supplement and speak with a doctor.

Learn more about herbs for treating ED.

Maintaining a moderate weight through regular exercise and eating a balanced and nutritious diet can play a part in maintaining erectile function.

Having overweight can be a risk factor for diabetes, and mismanaged blood sugar levels from diabetes can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels. Nerve damage and reduced circulation can affect blood flow to the penis, making it more difficult to get a hard or long lasting erection.

People with diabetes can help treat ED by managing their blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

According to the UK’s National Health Service, losing weight may also help prevent ED.

If you have obesity or overweight and have at least one weight-related health condition, you may be eligible for GLP-1 medication. This medication can reduce your appetite and help with weight management. Read more here:

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Testosterone levels can play a part in erectile function and sex drive. If you have a testosterone deficiency, you may experience the following symptoms:

A person with low testosterone levels can discuss treatments and potential side effects with a doctor. The doctor may prescribe testosterone for people to take by mouth, through the nose, or under the skin.

At the time of publication, the FDA only approved testosterone medication for people with low testosterone levels and an associated medical condition.

Find our top picks and hands-on review of the best at-home testosterone tests.

If you find it difficult to become and stay hard, you may wish to speak with a doctor. Prescription PDE5 inhibitor medications, such as Viagra and Cialis, take effect quickly and can last for several hours.

There are several evidence-backed ways to improve erectile function, all of which we discuss in this article. Some options include exercising, stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet, and using prescription medication such as Viagra.

Many factors contribute to erection problems, including diet, exercise, medication, age, and underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, depression, and sleep disorders.

There are no FDA-approved drinks to help erectile dysfunction (ED).

Some 2021 research suggests that pomegranate juice may help reduce ED symptoms. However, the study had a very small sample size, so more research is necessary.

Typically, an erection may last from a few minutes to half an hour. However, there is no set duration for an erection. Many factors can influence how long your erection lasts.

A person may be able to get harder erections by making certain dietary and lifestyle changes, as well as having open conversations with their sexual partner. Taking certain medications or supplements may also help.

If a person is experiencing persistent erectile problems, they can talk with a doctor to determine the cause.

In some cases, erectile issues could indicate an underlying condition. Treating or managing that condition can often help treat ED.