Erectile dysfunction

Updated 05 March 2018

How your age affects the angle of your erection

The hardness of erections is commonly measured using the angle between the penis and your legs. Erect penises can point upwards, straight ahead (90°) or downwards.


An erection is the process through which the penis becomes rigid enough for penetrative intercourse.

Not being able to get a satisfactory erection is called erectile dysfunction (ED). While ED tends to be more of an issue in older men, it is not uncommon for younger men also to have erectile problems.

Most men aim for an effortless, rock-hard erection, which is most commonly measured using the angle between the penis and your legs.

Erect penises can point upwards, straight ahead or downwards (and anywhere between), depending on factors like the tension of the suspensory ligament, the level of arousal – and of course one’s age. Individual size, thickness and shape also have an effect on the angle of an erection.

Another factor is that many penises aren’t 100% straight, but curve upward, downward or to one side. This is quite normal and a slightly bent penis is no reason for concern. However, scar tissue in the penis, usually caused by injury, can cause it to bend more severely. This is called Peyronie’s Disease.

Age and angle

18 years

At this age, a man will have rock-hard erections without much stimulation. He will also be able to get hard and ejaculate repeatedly. Sexual experiences at this age will have a strong influence on his sexual development.

At this age the angle of an erection can be expected to be 145 to 135 degrees.   

25 years

A man is at his physical peak. In most cases this is the period of a man’s life where he is sexually most active. He is still capable of quick, easy erections and multiple orgasms.

Stress and lifestyle issues may already start taking their toll on the hardness of his erections.

His angle should be 135 to 120 degrees.

Couple in bed together

35 years

He is sexually mature and still performing well. If he has been looking after his health, his erections should still be hard. Poor lifestyle habits may start to cause health problems like diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnoea and being overweight, which could have an effect on his erections.

At this age his angle should be 120 to 100 degrees.

45 years

The sins of the past are starting to have an effect and it might take longer to achieve a full erection. The period between erections also gets longer. This is also the age where prescription erection drugs may become useful.

The average angle of erection at this age can be expected to be around 110 to 90 degrees.

Couple in bed together

55 years

You might still be performing well in the bedroom, especially if you are in good health. The period between achieving erections will have become even longer. Many men of this age might be dependent on prescription erection drugs to get hard enough for satisfactory sexual intercourse.

Expected erection angle is 100 to 80 degrees.

Older couple embracing

65 years

Hardness is a problem in all except the healthiest men, and only one erection a day might be possible. Conditions like atherosclerosis, diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle diseases may make erections a rarity in many cases. Medication may or may not help with erections. 

Erection angle may only be 90 to 80 degrees.

Image credits: iStock

Reference: The Hardness Factor by Steven Lamm, M.D.


Ask the Expert

Erectile Dysfunction Expert

Dr Kenny du Toit is a urologist practicing in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He is also consultant at Tygerberg hospital, where he is a senior lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He is a member of the South African Urological Association, Colleges of Medicine South Africa and Société Internationale d’Urologie. Board registered with both the HPCSA (Health professions council of South Africa) and GMC (General medical council UK). He has a keen interest in oncology, kidney stones and erectile dysfunction.

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