By Lana Burgess
Reviewed by Daniel Murrell, MD
Erections are the product of a healthy bodily function that is useful when a man wants to have sex or masturbate. Sometimes, however, an erection happens when a man does not want one. What are the best ways to stop an unwanted erection?
The most obvious way to stop an erection is to ejaculate. This is not always possible or appropriate, so it can be helpful to understand other ways to get rid of one.
As erections start in early life, this article also details how parents can talk to their children about erections.
Erections start in early life. They are healthy bodily functions that happen several times a day for most men. A 2013 study found that the average erection is 5.6 inches long.
In adulthood, erections may happen when a man is sexually aroused or for other reasons. The different types of erection include:
- Reflexogenic: These occur in response to touch.
- Psychogenic: These happen in response to sexual thoughts or fantasies.
- Nocturnal: These happen while a man is asleep. On average a man experiences five of these a night, and they last for an average of 30 minutes.
Testosterone plays a role in erectile function. In an erection, a small amount of blood travels to the penis. That action, together with hormones, muscles, and nerves, makes the penis stiffen.
Erections make sexual intercourse possible, but having an erection does not always mean a man wants to masturbate or engage in sexual activities.
Random, unwanted erections affect many men. They are not usually a sign of a health condition, but they may make a person feel uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Seven ways to stop an erection
Reaching orgasm and ejaculating will usually get rid of an erection, but this is not always appropriate or desirable.
It may be helpful for a man to learn other methods of stopping an erection. These include:
1. Waiting calmly
A simple way to deal with an unwanted erection is to wait for it to go away. The following may help:
- sitting down
- breathing slowly
- remaining calm
To reduce embarrassment, covering the erection with a long jacket, shirt, or laptop may help. It is important to remember that while the erection may seem obvious to the person experiencing it, most people will not have noticed, so there is no reason to be anxious.
Meditation can help to get rid of an erection and stop a person from focusing on arousing thoughts. To try meditation, a person should:
- breathe slowly and deeply
- focus on the sound of the breath
- try repeating a word or phrase over and over to focus the mind
- acknowledge distracting thoughts and then imagine letting them go, refocusing on the sound of the breath
Meditation can aid relaxation and is accessible to everyone. Some people find meditation difficult when they first try it, but there are meditation classes and apps that may help.
Before relying on meditation to get rid of an erection, it is a good idea to practice it throughout the day.
Distracting the mind with other thoughts can help get rid of an erection. The following may help:
- avoiding thinking about anything arousing
- focusing on solving a mathematical problem
- recalling a speech or poem or solving a riddle
Changing a sitting or standing position may also help a man get rid of an erection. Doing so may help move clothing that may have been touching the penis and stimulating it.
Switching positions may also help a man hide his erection if he is in a public or uncomfortable situation.
5. Showering in cold water
Taking a cold shower is a traditional remedy for getting rid of an erection that works well for some men. However, showering is not always practical.
6. Having a warm bath
Although some men use a cold shower, others find that a warm bath helps get rid of an erection.
A warm bath can help a person relax and reduce arousal. It can also make it easier to pass urine, which may help an erection go away.
7. Gentle exercise
Some men find gentle exercise can help get rid of an erection. Jogging and using an exercise bike are simple exercises to try.
How to talk to children about erections
If a person has children, it is important that they talk openly with them about erections.
Erections are normal for young boys, but they may not know this unless their parents explain.
Understanding their bodily functions can help children’s physical and emotional development.
Boys start having erections at a young age, so it is important to give them simple words to use to explain what is happening. This helps them ask questions and discuss things openly.
It is normal for children to want to explore their own body, but it is important to explain when this is and is not appropriate. Helping children to learn ways to deal with erections that occur in public will help them avoid embarrassment.
Children and adolescents may use a distraction technique, such as counting or reciting songs or stories to help them manage unwanted or uncomfortable erections.
When to see a doctor
Having erections several times a day is natural. However, some situations may require medical treatment.
If a man has a long-lasting erection that goes on for more than 4 hours, he should speak to a doctor immediately, as he may have a condition called priapism.
Priapism may damage the tissue in the penis. This can lead to long-term erectile dysfunction if left untreated. Painful erections may also be a sign of this condition.
Treatments for priapism include taking medication and draining the blood from the penis.
Having an erection without an orgasm can sometimes lead to a short-term condition called epididymal hypertension. This condition is informally known as “blue balls.”
Epididymal hypertension is not a serious condition, and an orgasm is not necessary every time a man gets an erection.
It is normal for a man to get erections several times a day. Some of these may be unwanted.
To get rid of an unwanted erection, a man can try waiting, distraction, meditation, repositioning, or a cold shower.
An erection that lasts for longer than 4 hours may be a priapism. If this happens, a person should speak to a doctor immediately.
A man should arrange an appointment to speak to a doctor if he notices any bothersome changes in erectile function.
SOURCE: MEDICAL NEWS TODAY