Most erections are fleeting. Depending on what you decide to do with your stimulus package, you might not even make it through a commercial break before things are over and done with. But what exactly is considered “average” in boner time (which is surely its own metaphysical unit)?
For better or worse, the longer end (sorry) of this period of time happens during sleep. “We know based on nighttime studies that the average man has several erections during the night that last up to half an hour or so,” Ingber continues. “On the other hand, during penile-vaginal intercourse, the average duration until detumescence [i.e., loss of erection] is less than 7 minutes.” (Detumescence can occur from either ejaculation or loss of arousal.)
If your boners are regularly lasting longer than this — first of all, congratulations — there’s no need to panic until you hit about the four-hour mark. “If our patients are taking sildenafil or Viagra, we warn them that if an erection lasts more than four hours, they should seek emergency care or call their physician,” Ingber explains. “It may be a sign of priapism, which is a persistent and painful erection. This is an emergency that often requires surgical or medical care to make the erection go away. Otherwise, penile scarring can occur and may result in more permanent erectile dysfunction.”
Which, of course, means no more boner time at all.
At the other end of the spectrum, many people struggle to maintain an erection for as long as they’d like due to a variety of other issues — e.g., high blood pressure or medications for things like depression. While certainly not as urgent as priapism, these are all still problems worth seeking treatment for, too.
For the rest of you, enjoy your boners while they last.