How to Stay Hard Longer During Sex

Although there are many ways to have sex that don’t require a hard penis, if getting hard (and staying hard) is the goal, here are some helpful tips that don’t require medication.

How to Stay Hard Longer During Sex

How to Stay Hard Longer During Sex

How to Stay Hard Longer During Sex

March 17, 2020
Medically Reviewed by
8 minute read

Many people with penises want to know how to stay hard longer. They may be eager to please their partner, or they may feel embarrassed if they can’t get or maintain an erection. Cultural messages around the importance of staying hard — as well as a multibillion dollar industry for erectile dysfunction (aka “ED”) drugs — has many people convinced that a rock-hard cock is the surest way to please your partner. 

Since penetration is often presented as “the main event” in conversations around (particularly straight) sex, many people feel overwhelming pressure to stay hard. But fortunately for people with penises (and their partners!) figuring out how to stay hard longer does not need to be a priority! If you or your partner struggle with erectile dysfunction, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy sex. Read on for some tips on how to stay hard longer that don’t require a prescription! 

How to stay hard longer without coming (without using pills)

Although there are many wonderful ways to get it on besides penetration, many people would still like to know how to stay hard longer. There’s no single trick to maintaining an erection, but there are a few things that can help:

1. Limit alcohol consumption, especially before sex.

Although it can help to lower your inhibitions and temporarily increase your confidence, drinking can inhibit your ability to get and stay hard.

2. Don’t smoke cigarettes.

As well as being terrible for your overall health, smoking tobacco can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Substances found in cigarettes cause blood vessels to constrict; since getting an erection depends on the expansion of blood vessels in the penis, anything that interferes with that process is bad news for those struggling to get and stay hard! And while there’s no conclusive evidence linking cannabis use to ED, recreational or prescription drugs often have side effects, and can affect individuals in unpredictable ways. If you’re a heavy cannabis user who struggles to maintain an erection, it might be worthwhile to cut back and see if that helps. 

3. Relax.

Anxiety can create a negative-feedback loop that may cause your dick to stay soft, even when you’re eager for sex. Incorporating self-care practices like meditation and yoga into your daily routine can help to combat stress, increase mindfulness, and stave off anxiety. Plus, being mindful while having sex can make the experience that much more erotic! 

4. Take care of yourself. 

If you want to be able to stay hard longer, taking care of your body is a must. 

Regular exercise has a host of benefits for your overall physical and mental health. Increasing your aerobic fitness, as well as doing specific pelvic-floor exercises, can also help you to stay hard longer by increasing your stamina and strengthening the muscle groups that support the penis.

Sleep has a major role in regulating your mood, physical health, and all-round wellbeing. Making sure to get plenty of sleep is an essential component of self-care.

Eating a balanced diet with plenty of whole foods and minimal processed ingredients can make you feel better in general; It may also help you to combat the effects of ED.

5. Get an assist.

Cock rings fit around the base of the penis (some are designed to fit around the shaft, while others encircle the balls, too) and can help you to maintain an erection by restricting blood flow. They can be fancy or plain; many also vibrate to provide added sensation for you and your partner! (Pay attention to how your cock ring feels; it shouldn’t be too difficult to remove, and should be taken off at the first sign of numbing, cold, or discoloration of your penis. A cock ring shouldn’t be worn for more than 30 minutes at a time.)

6. Change it up.

If you’d like to stay hard longer, it can help to vary your play: switch from the missionary position to spooning, change from vaginal penetration to oral, or take a break and watch each other masturbate! Adding variety can keep things interesting; adding different sensations can provide extra stimulation for your penis, which can help you to stay hard.

7. Talk about it.

Sex is always better if you’re able to effectively communicate with your partner about your needs. Opening up about your desire to stay hard longer, and any associated anxiety, can help to ease the pressure, as well as give your partner the opportunity to tell you what they want.

What if you can’t stay hard?

Even if you’ve tried everything to stay hard longer, sometimes your dick just won’t cooperate. Whether you have a medical condition, recurring anxiety, or simply can’t seem to sustain an erection, you can still enjoy healthy, satisfying, and deeply pleasurable sex. 

For many people, penetration isn’t the most important part of sex. Even for those who want and desire penetration as a regular part of their sex life, a soft dick is definitely not a deal-breaker! Sex therapist Dr. Tom Murphy offers this advice to readers: “If you want a guaranteed erection to continue pleasuring your partner, the best solution is to wear a strap-on dildo!” That’s right: even if you have a penis already, you can, and should, feel confident about using a strap-on when sustained penetration is the goal. Some strap-ons are designed with penis-havers in mind, allowing you to slide them over your own cock. 

Do you have to get (and stay) hard to have sex?

No! Sex takes many forms, from mutual masturbation and oral, to outercourse and strap-on sex. You can experience pleasure and intimacy (not to mention mind-blowing orgasms), even if your dick never gets hard. Changing your mentality around what sex is and isn’t can be tremendously liberating and open up new horizons of fun: By shifting the focus away from penetration with a hard cock, you can explore other ways of giving and receiving pleasure. For some people, this might mean experimenting with prostate orgasms and toys; it could also encourage you to focus on refining your techniques for eating pussy or ass, giving a blow job, or using your hands to pleasure your partner.

Although getting and staying rock-hard is often equated with masculinity and sexual prowess, real sexual skill is all about knowing how to give and receive pleasure within an atmosphere of enthusiastic consent and mutual trust. By shifting the focus from penetration to pleasure, you can enjoy great sex—with or without an erection!

E.A. Klein

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

E.A. is a freelance writer who also works at a small nonprofit. As a student of cultural anthropology, she researched and wrote about kink/BDSM, abortion, harm-reduction approaches to substance use in the LGBT community, and cross-cultural understandings of gender, sexuality, and the body. She has designed and implemented a sexual health curriculum for adolescent girls in the developing world and worked in a variety of community health settings. Her writing has appeared in The Establishment, Edible magazine, The Seattle Lesbian, Slog, and elsewhere.

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