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Our culture is filled with ideas about “going all night,” which can create a lot of unnecessary sexual performance anxiety if your stamina isn’t quite where you want it to be.
The truth is, how long sex should last really only depends on what’s satisfying for the people involved. But if you’ve talked with your partner and you both agree you’d like sex to last longer, it’s time to start thinking about how to increase sexual stamina.
What causes decreased sexual stamina?
Sexual stamina is usually defined as how long you can continue a sexual activity until you need a break. It’s important to note that it doesn’t have to be penetrative sex. Several factors can affect how long this period is, including:
- Ejaculation/orgasm: Premature ejaculation (PE) affects your sexual stamina, but you don’t have to have PE to feel like you finish too early. Some people feel unsatisfied with their stamina because they can’t have sex again right after ejaculating. The refractory period (how long it takes to get hard again after ejaculation) is different for everyone, though older age is associated with longer times (Bhat, 2019).
- Erectile dysfunction (ED): ED affects your ability to get and maintain an erection. Your stamina may be lower if you have ED and lose your erection during sex.
- Underlying health conditions: Certain health conditions are associated with ED, like those that affect your heart health and blood pressure. But other conditions can also affect your sexual stamina. Thyroid diseases, for example, can affect ejaculation time and libido (Gabrielson, 2019).
- Medication: Sexual dysfunction that impacts your stamina can also be associated with taking or stopping certain medications (Giatti, 2018).
- Psychological factors: Mental health conditions like depression can affect your libido and contribute to sexual dysfunction (Chokka, 2017). Major life events and work stress can also cause stress-induced erectile dysfunction.
Science-backed ways to increase sexual stamina
If there’s no medical condition affecting your sexual function, you may be able to last longer by managing stress, adopting healthy lifestyle habits, and putting more emphasis on foreplay. If ED or PE affects your stamina, get medical advice to address it. Both of these conditions are treatable.
Premature ejaculation treatments
If you feel you’re ejaculating too soon, desensitizing products using benzocaine or lidocaine may be an option. These medications are local anesthetics used to numb areas of the body. Products for PE using these ingredients prevent overstimulation of the penis without completely blocking sensation so you can last longer.
These products can work in as little as five minutes, and their effects wear off after 1–2 hours (Porst, 2019). One study found that men who used 4% benzocaine wipes before sex saw improvements in their PE, including intercourse duration, control over ejaculation, and satisfaction with sex (Shabsigh, 2017).
Erectile dysfunction treatments
If ED is the biggest hurdle for your sexual stamina, medications called PDE5 inhibitors (like Viagra) are well-researched first-line treatments. These medications are highly effective and help blood flow into the penis, making it easier to get and maintain an erection (Sooriyamoorthy, 2022).
There are also other types of therapies and medical devices (such as penis pumps) that can be used alone or in combination with medicine to treat ED and improve your sexual health.
How to increase stamina in bed without pills
If you feel like you finish too quickly, there are ways to extend sexual experiences without pills.
One method you can try is edging, which involves experiencing sexual stimulation until right before orgasm and then backing off or stopping until excitement dissipates enough to continue (Crowdis, 2021). You can repeat this process as needed to extend how long sex lasts. There are different types of edging, and it may take some experimenting to find the one you like that works best for you.
Prioritizing foreplay may also help. Taking things slowly by increasing the lead-up time can help the experience of sex feel longer. You can also use foreplay to get your partner closer to finishing so that even if your sexual endurance isn’t as high as you prefer, there’s little to no gap between you and your partner finishing.
Vitamins to make you last longer in bed
Having low levels of certain vitamins may increase your odds of having sexual dysfunction that can negatively impact your sex life. Correcting these deficiencies may alleviate these issues, but that doesn’t mean taking these vitamins if you’re not deficient will make you last longer in bed.
Vitamin deficiencies that may contribute to sexual dysfunction include:
- Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid): If you have low blood levels of this vitamin, it may affect your erectile function. One small study found a correlation between blood folate levels and erectile dysfunction; study participants with a folate deficiency had worse ED (Attia, 2019).
- Vitamin B12: More research is needed, but low levels of B12 may contribute to sexual performance problems. One study found that men with gastritis with low B12 levels ejaculated much faster than those with normal levels of this vitamin (Gökçen, 2019).
- Vitamin D: Men deficient in vitamin D were 32% more likely to have trouble with erections than men with normal levels, one study found (Farag, 2016)
Niacin (vitamin B3)–which is in everything from fruits and veggies to red meat–may help men with ED regardless of their blood levels of this vitamin. Research has found that people with moderate to severe ED and high cholesterol who were given daily niacin supplements saw improvements in their erectile dysfunction (Ng, 2011).
Best supplement for stamina in bed
It’s impossible to name one best supplement because many factors contribute to decreased stamina, and they all have different treatments. If a nutritional deficiency is behind what you’re experiencing, correcting it may help. But that doesn’t mean you need to rely on dietary supplements unless a healthcare provider thinks they’re necessary.
If you want to try supplements, one that might have some potential to help your sex life is l-arginine. This amino acid is an essential building block your body uses to make nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that produces nitric oxide (NO). NO relaxes the inner muscles of your blood vessels, improving blood flow and, potentially, erections. L-arginine has helped mild-to-moderate ED in studies (Sooriyamoorthy, 2022).
Even if these supplements can help some men, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider about treatment options.
How to increase male libido
Like sexual stamina, your libido can be affected by many factors. It’s normal for sex drive to decrease to some extent as you age. One reason for this is that testosterone levels decrease as we get older, and low libido is a common outcome (Nassar, 2022).
Certain health conditions also increase your odds of having a lowered libido, including mental health disorders and conditions that affect your levels of sex hormones (Corona, 2013).
If an underlying condition is lowering your libido, getting treatment for it may be enough to help your sex drive rebound. If your low desire isn’t due to a medical condition, healthy lifestyle changes may help, such as:
- Adding in regular exercise: One study found that men who engaged in moderate-intensity workouts had sex more frequently, higher rates of masturbation, and higher levels of sex hormones than those who did not (Goh, 2009).
- Limiting alcohol: Although the connection between alcohol and libido isn’t clear, lowering your alcohol consumption is a low-risk strategy. High alcohol consumption is associated with lower sex hormones even though it doesn’t appear to impact libido directly (Mima, 2019).
- Prioritizing sleep: It’s possible that getting more uninterrupted sleep may help your sex drive. Low libido is a common side effect of obstructive sleep apnea, a condition that causes interrupted sleep (Mun, 2018). Better quality sleep improves your health in many ways, so there’s no downside to seeing if it helps your sexual desire.
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Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.