Erections are a normal, healthy body function that happen throughout life. But you may try these tips if you’re trying to avoid or stop an erection.

Erections are a normal, healthy body function. Sometimes, however, an erection may appear spontaneously or at a time when you’d rather not have one.

Read on to learn how to stop and avoid an unwanted erection, plus more about this normal body function.

Ejaculating is the most straightforward way to get rid of an erection, but it’s not always possible to reach orgasm when you have an erection. The following are some things you can do to help stop an erection. These tips may also help you to avoid getting an erection in the first place.

1. Distract yourself

One of the first things you should do to get rid of an unwanted erection is to think about something else. Don’t think about the erection and avoid thinking arousing thoughts. Instead, think about something that will distract you, like a challenging word or math problem.

Keeping your mind busy can also help you prevent unwanted erections from starting.

2. Shift your position

Shifting your position can have two benefits. In some cases, your clothing, or the way you’re moving or sitting, could be stimulating your penis and causing the erection. Changing positions can help remove that stimulation and stop the erection. Shifting your position can also help to hide the erection. If you have pockets, place a hand in your pocket and gently reposition the erection. That can also help you to conceal it.

3. Meditation

Clearing your mind works in a similar way to thinking distracting thoughts. The goal is to avoid thinking about your erection or anything arousing. Meditation can also be a useful way to avoid getting an erection, such as during a massage or in another situation that you would typically find arousing.

If you’re new to meditation, breathe normally and focus on your breaths. This is known as focused or concentration meditation. You can also try repeating a single word in your head. If you find your mind returning to thoughts of your erection, shift your thoughts back to your breathing or the word you’re mentally repeating. Not only can meditation help you relax, but it can also help your erection to go away.

Meditation takes practice, so if you’d like this to be your go-to tool for getting rid of an erection, consider practicing mediation regularly throughout the day. Try meditating for a few minutes first thing in the morning and at the end of the day. There are also many meditation apps and guided meditation podcasts and albums you can use to help you practice meditating.

Read more: Which type of meditation is right for me? »

4. Calm down and wait it out

For some men, waiting for the erection to go away on its own may be the simplest solution. If you’re able to, sit down, slow your breathing, and don’t panic. If you have a jacket or a long shirt, you can use that to cover the erection so it’s not visible to other people. You can also disguise it by holding a laptop over your lap.

Remember that your erection is likely more noticeable to you than to other people. It’s also a sign that your genitals are healthy and functioning properly.

Learn more: Are random erections normal? »

5. Take a cold shower

If you’re able, taking a cold shower may help. Of course, if an erection happens while in a meeting or out on a date, jumping in the shower probably isn’t an option. For some men, the sensation of the shower water against their bodies may also increase arousal, so you’ll want to use this method with caution.

If your erection lasts longer than four hours, contact your local emergency services. This condition is known as priapism. Priapism can damage the tissue in the penis and may lead to permanent erectile dysfunction when left untreated. A painful erection may also be a sign of priapism.

Fast fact

Erections without orgasm can sometimes lead to epididymal hypertension (EH), also known colloquially as blue balls. EH is not usually a serious condition, and it often resolves once you’re no longer aroused.

Erections are a normal, healthy body function. They begin early in life, and can even occur while a fetus is still in the womb. As you get older, you may begin to notice a decline in the frequency of your erections, or you may find it more difficult to reach erection.

Talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your erectile function. You should also talk to your doctor if you have an erection that lasts longer than four hours, as this can be a sign of priapism, which is a medical emergency.

Read more: 12 surprising facts about erections »

Talking to your child about erections and sexuality can help them feel more comfortable with their bodies.

  • In babies and toddlers, include identifying words for penis and testicles as part of their body part vocabulary. Choose words that you’re comfortable with and that you don’t mind them using in public.
  • For young children, let them know that erections are normal. Many young boys are interested in their penises. You should encourage them to explore their own bodies, which can help create a positive body image, but also let them know when these behaviors are appropriate and when they are not. This will vary depending on your own cultural norms and beliefs.
  • Talk to young boys about puberty before it starts. Puberty typically begins in boys between the ages of 9 and 14. Discussing puberty before it begins can help prepare your son so that he isn’t surprised by the changes that come with this transition.
  • Share tips for managing erections in public with your child. Help them learn a poem or song that they can mentally recite when an erection happens, or show them ways they can sit to help disguise an erection. The most important thing is to help them understand that erections are normal.
  • If you have a daughter, consider talking to her about erections as well. This can help her understand what happens to boys during puberty.
  • Don’t wait for your child to ask you questions. Open up the conversation about erections, sexual health, and puberty. It’s also important to let your child know that they can come to you with questions.
  • If you’re uncomfortable talking to your child about erections, ask their doctor for some talking points. Their doctor can also talk to them about erections, either privately, with you in the room, or both.