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How to maintain your erection

Category:Sex & desire

Worrying about your erection and not being able to keep it up are among the most common concerns and questions men have about sex.

“Most guys have had problems at some point with their erection and it is one of the most common questions we get from men at RFSU. Some are worried about not being able to get a hard-on while others are afraid of losing it too quickly,” says Pelle Ullholm, sex educator at RFSU.

How an erection works

You get an erection when the swelling bodies in the penis fill with blood, a process that starts in the brain. When you get excited, special nerve pathways are stimulated that send signals to the blood vessels in the penis and tell them to relax and dilate. The penis contains swelling bodies that contain cavities, a bit like a sponge. When the blood vessel relaxes, these cavities fill with blood, causing the penis to grow and get hard. When the swollen body is full of blood, the pressure from the blood and from the muscles in the penis prevents the blood from flowing out again and the hard-on is maintained. You could say that it works a little like nature’s own penis ring.



A penis ring can make an erection feel unusually strong and stable and can also enhance the sensation. Pelle Ullerholm, Sex educator, RFSU

Tips on products to maintain an erection

For those who want to make it easier to maintain their erection, a penis ring can be an alternative. It squeezes around the base of the penis and causes the blood to stay in the penis.

“A penis ring can make an erection feel unusually strong and stable and can also enhance the actual sensation. The more blood-filled the penis is, the more sensitive it is, which is why a penis ring can increase sensitivity and pleasure,” says Pelle Ullholm.

A penis ring can also mean that more focus ends up being on the penis, which can help a man feel powerful and sexy.

Just the very sight of a penis with a penis ring can add something extra to the sexiness.

“It is the optimal combination of an aid and a sex toy. It can help you with your hard-on, enhance the feeling and look sexy,” says Pelle Ullholm, sex educator at RFSU.

How to use a penis ring

You put on the penis ring when you are already fully erect. If you have not used one before, it may be good to buy one that can be adjusted to size, or a set with several sizes so that you can try them out and see which is the right size. The ring should fit so that it keeps the blood in the penis and helps you maintain your erection. But it should not be so tight that the blood supply to the penis is cut off and it feels uncomfortable.

“Test it yourself until you find what feels good and just right. Then you can simply try getting used to it. There is no right or wrong,” says Pelle Ullholm.

A penis ring can remain in place during the entire sex session to help maintain stiffness and maximize sensitivity. But remember that it should sit there for no more than 20 minutes maximum, otherwise the penis’s swelling bodies can be damaged. Some penis rings can also be worn over the scrotum.

“This way you get more blood in the scrotum, which makes it more sensitive. When you reach orgasm, the scrotum is pulled up towards the body. A penis ring prevents the scrotum from pulling upwards in the same way and it can give you a nice tightening feeling,” says Pelle Ullholm.



From stretchable rubber to the hardest steel

Penis rings come in all possible shapes and materials. From stretchable rubber to leather and the hardest steel. A rubber ring is simply pulled out like a rubber band and pulled over the penis. There are also variants that work a little like a lasso where you can easily pull the ring together after you have pulled it over the penis.

“It’s good to start with a stretchable material before you get used to it and know which size you like best. Once you’ve got used to it, you can move on to harder and less flexible material if you want. Harder types of rings such as metal or plastic rings require a little more effort from the user. For example, it is important to find precisely the right size, because the material is not stretchable.

“Penis rings made of harder material are a little trickier to use, some people think they give you a slightly sexier, nicer, tougher feeling. They can also be slightly better at keeping blood in the penis.

Below are more products that can help you with your erection, such as potency pumps and masturbators.


Extra pleasure for the clitoris

In addition to making it easier to maintain your erection, a penis ring can also add an extra level of pleasure if you have sex with a person with a clitoris. There are even penis rings with a built-in vibrator designed to stimulate the clitoris during intimate sex.

You should not use a penis ring if you have diabetes, heart problems or if you are taking blood-thinning drugs.

Seek help if you have long-term problems with your erection

“It’s not unusual to have difficulty getting an erection at times or that your erection comes and goes when you have sex. But if you feel that you have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, you should contact your doctor, as there may be underlying diseases causing the problems. For example, you can contact a sex and intercourse clinic.

If you live in Stockholm, you can contact RFSU’s clinic at Medborgarplatsen on 08-692 07 70. 

“You can get help there to find out what the problem is, whether it is psychological or whether there is something wrong with your body. There is often a good course of treatment and the vast majority of people can be helped. Sometimes the problem is just in your head, for example if you are stressed or suffering from performance anxiety, which are both really effective erection killers.

“If you can get hard when you masturbate, then it is meeting up with someone else that becomes problematic. It can be due to several things, but in any case there is no underlying medical reason.”


Last updated: 2023.06.07