How to get hard naturally and keep your erection for longer

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Michael Martin 

Yael Cooperman, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Yael Cooperman, MD, Ro, 

Written by Michael Martin 

last updated: Dec 12, 2023

6 min read

Key takeaways

  • It’s common to find yourself wanting harder and longer-lasting erections, and there are a lot of things you can do on a daily basis to improve the strength of your erections naturally. 

  • Your diet, how much you exercise, and even how much alcohol you drink can all affect your ability to get an erection when you want one.

  • Taking care of any underlying medical conditions, like diabetes or heart disease, can also affect blood flow to the penis, making it easier to get hard.

Getting harder erections that last longer may seem unachievable but there are actually quite a few things you can do on a daily basis that will make it easier to get and keep an erection while getting you healthier at the same time. That’s because erections are kind of like the canary in the coal mine when it comes to vascular (blood vessels) and nerve health. If you have an issue with either of those systems, difficulty getting or maintaining an erection may be the very first sign. Read on to learn what steps you can take to get harder and longer-lasting erections naturally and what to do if all else fails.  

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How to get an erection naturally

Getting hard can be surprisingly complicated. Your head, heart, hormones, blood vessels, and so much more have to work together perfectly to pull off this crazy thing we call an erection—so don't be bummed if things don't always go as planned. It happens. The good news is, taking care of your body and figuring out if there are any lifestyle changes you need to make can be an impactful way to naturally improve your erections. Since your blood vessels need to deliver blood to your penis to create a firm erection, any disruption in blood flow to your penis can make it hard to get…hard. 

If you have a personal or family history of heart disease, getting a regular check-up with your family physician or getting seen by a specialist might be the first step in determining if you have an underlying issue. Your doctor will also be able to evaluate you for any conditions that can affect nerve function, like diabetes. Diabetes and prediabetes are very common and frequently underdiagnosed, and they can result in high levels of sugar in your bloodstream that can damage the nerves that play an outsized role in getting an erection. Finally, if you have overweight or obesity, you’re more likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED). So weight management, in addition to its benefits for your heart and other systems, can offer the added benefit of a better time in the bedroom. 

Another thing to consider is habits like cigarette and marijuana smoking and alcohol consumption. Definitive research is still (surprisingly) a little murky on the relationship between alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction. However, most healthcare providers will agree that moderation is a good idea when it comes to alcohol—especially on date night.

In the long term, heavy alcohol use increases the risk of liver disease, increasing the risk of ED. In the short term, it depresses your central nervous system, decreasing overall arousal. As a general rule, depressants are bad for sexual performance.

For most men, having one drink won't impact sexual performance in any meaningful way. However, it’s a good idea to limit yourself to a max of two drinks before sexual activity, especially if you’ve experienced erectile dysfunction in the past. And drinking heavily while taking ED medication is not advised. 

While the exact connection between marijuana and tobacco use and erectile dysfunction remains unclear, there have been multiple studies that indicate that ED is more common among people who use marijuana regularly. So if you’re having trouble getting it up, scaling back in the smoking department might help. In terms of tobacco, extensive blood vessel damage is a known effect of chronic smoking, and without proper blood flow, erectile strength can be curbed.

How to maintain an erection for 30 minutes

To get and maintain an erection for 30 minutes, there are a few techniques you can try. First of all, we recommend zooming out. It turns out that the ideal length of sex is nowhere near that “all night long” trope we’ve all heard in movies and pop culture. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine pegged the ideal length of sex at around 7-13 minutes. Shocking. We know. 

The researchers interviewed an experienced group of sex therapists and found that anything under three minutes was typically construed as “too short,” 3-7 minutes was considered adequate, but 10-30 minutes was actually considered “too long.”

So before you go hunting for that magic solution for longer-lasting erections, consider quality over quantity. Aim for oodles of foreplay and make the most of penetration. And if you’re finding that you’re falling in the under-3-minute range, consider masturbating a few hours before sex or learn about whether you might have a treatable condition called PE (premature ejaculation). Desensitizing wipes and creams are an easy way to help you last longer. 

More tips for getting harder erections

When it comes to getting harder and longer-lasting erections, long-term lifestyle changes are a great choice. Exercise, diet, and even considering medication may be an easier next step than you think.

Exercise more frequently

You've heard this one before: Exercise is good for you. And while it may seem like boring medical advice to tell you to exercise regularly, cardiovascular health and erections are intimately linked. 

Studies link atherosclerosis—the buildup of fat and cholesterol in your blood vessels—to erectile dysfunction. Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol increase the risk for atherosclerosis and erectile dysfunction. 

The blood vessels in your penis are smaller and narrower than the arteries in other parts of your body. What that means is that they’ll be the first to clog. The first sign of high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol, and clogged arteries may not be a stroke or a heart attack. It could be erectile dysfunction. 

Regular physical activity reduces your risk for cardiovascular disease (woo!), but it also lowers your risk of ED. Try to think of a better reason to sweat through a spin class. And the good news is, you don't have to turn into a gym rat to see results—just incorporate a few daily activities into your routine. About 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise a day seems to be the magic number, and it's easier to do this than you think:

  • Park in that faraway spot that nobody wants. You'll add a few minutes to your morning walk, and you'll also be the office hero. People will throw a parade in your honor! (Okay, maybe not, but if they do, opt to walk in the parade rather than riding on a float).

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Get familiar with all the fire exits in your workplace while burning a few calories.

  • Take a walk whenever you make a phone call. It's called a mobile phone for a reason, so get up and get the blood pumping during your next quarterly recap or big sales call.

Adding a few minutes of exercise to your day can add years to your life—literally. And if that exercise results in stronger, more frequent erections, that's even better. 

Change your diet

When it comes to erections, you are what you eat. (Maybe that eggplant emoji is secretly genius.) To be fair, no food can fix erectile dysfunction (ED). Still, a healthy diet can help manage risk factors for atherosclerosis, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes, which may also help stave off erection problems. 

Some research has shown that fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats are associated with a lower risk of ED. And the cool thing about eating a healthy diet is that you don't necessarily have to lose weight to get better erections. You just have to improve the quality of the food you eat.

Several peer-reviewed studies, like the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, have linked a healthy diet to reduced risk for ED—not to mention other conditions like type 2 diabetes and obesity. The secret is increasing fruits, veggies, and whole grains while reducing processed foods, sugars, and red meat.

Skip that third sugar in your morning coffee. Make the switch from regular soda to diet. When you feel ready, consider making the jump to drinking just water. Regarding meals, replace half of your red meat with a vegetable or swap out beef with chicken or fish once a week.

The key to making lasting dietary changes is small moves. Gradual changes will help your taste buds and habits adjust to a new reality without realizing you're eating healthier. 

Everyone is different, so not every diet will work for you. You can experiment with plans like the Mediterranean diet or the keto diet or just follow these guidelines to find a hybrid eating plan that works for you. But remember, start small. Don't try to change everything about your habits in one huge overhaul.

Eat more of these:

  • Fruits

  • Vegetables

  • Whole grains

  • Legumes

Eat less of these:

  • Red meat (processed and unprocessed)

  • Processed food

  • High-sugar drinks (like soda)

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Medications for stronger erections

Once you have your diet and exercise in check, and you’re limiting your alcohol and smoking, any remaining erectile woes can typically be solved with safe and effective medications like Viagra. Gone are the days when you need to spend hours in a waiting room or face-to-face with a doctor discussing your sex life. You can now get erectile dysfunction medications online from licensed healthcare professionals that will be shipped straight to your door in discreet packaging. 

These lifestyle factors are good for your health anyway, but if you’re still experiencing ED, you might want to get your testosterone level checked—low testosterone can contribute to a reduced sex drive. And if you feel ready, don’t be afraid to try ED meds (as recommended by your healthcare provider)—they’re safe and effective.

Viagra Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

December 12, 2023

Written by

Michael Martin

Fact checked by

Yael Cooperman, MD

About the medical reviewer

Yael Cooperman is a physician and works as a Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.

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