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How to Get Rid of an Erection: 6 Tips

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/12/2021

Updated 03/05/2024

Most guys agree erections are great — and the older you get, the more truth you and your urologist will find in that statement. But for every man who’s happy to be hard, another one might not be so pleased.

Maybe you’re about to stand up and do a presentation, or perhaps it’s simply not the right time to “pitch a tent.”

But as many guys learn at a very early age, sexual thoughts and sexual arousal aren’t always things you can control.

The point is, we get it. Sometimes, you can’t wait it out and need to make an erection go away in a hurry.

So is there a science-backed strategy to make that happen? Below, we’ll walk you through the limited research on the subject and suggest some non-scientific ways to deal with the problem that other guys have used successfully.

We’ll also put long-lasting, sudden and nonexistent erections in the context of erectile health, in case you have more than one problem to address.

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We can do penis facts like the best of them, but to get to the important information quickly, here are the essential erectile points.

Erections are physiological reactions to psychogenic (mental), physical or nocturnal stimuli. In other words, you get them because you think about sex, because your body senses physical activity that might be sex or because you’re asleep.

Most of the time, you’d only want to get rid of an erection for fear of embarrassment or awkward interactions that may come from getting one at the wrong times.

Getting rid of an inopportune erection isn’t something scientists have made any progress in studying. First, researchers are mostly focused on helping people who can’t get erections get them. And second, well, we assume volunteers who want to make their erections go away aren’t terribly easy to come by.

That’s one type of unwanted erection. Technically, there’s also a second: a dangerously long-lived painful erection lasting more than four hours (aka priapism).

Real talk: Priapism is a serious medical emergency that can lead to permanent problems with sexual function if it’s not addressed speedily. It’s also incredibly rare and often a sign of misuse of prescription ED (erectile dysfunction) treatment.

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Making unwanted erections disappear comes down to a division between the two categories mentioned above.

Disclaimer on the first category: If you have priapism, seek medical advice immediately. Why? None of the below treatment options are going to help you, and trying them first is just wasting crucial time.

If you’re just in a situation (a lecture hall, a boardroom, the check-out line, etc.) and are hoping to make your erection go away before anyone notices, we don’t have any peer-reviewed, tested treatment options for you.

What we do have are a few popular “home remedies” that seem to work for some men. If you’re in a tight spot and need out, here’s what you can try.

Wait It Out

Got time to let random erections take their course? Then have a seat, good sir. Sometimes, it’s best not to go crazy when something pops up unexpectedly.

As we’ve already mentioned, most erections do just go away on their own if you wait long enough. So if you have the time, find a comfortable and clandestine sitting position and check your email.

Hit the Gym

Jumping jacks might be the last thing on your mind when you’re hard and don’t want to be. But a little physical activity has been reported to help some guys.

Maybe tricking the body into activity mode shuts off the switch. Or maybe cardio tells your brain to put your penis in cool-down mode so it doesn’t get injured — your guess is as good as ours.

What’s important is that if it does work for you, it’s a solution. Oh, and regular exercise might also reduce your risk of heart disease, so, bonus!

Cold Showers

Not to pour cold water on your hopes of getting this thing handled without discomfort, but have you considered a cold shower?

Some men report that a cold shower or ice bath quickly deals with erections — and 100 percent agree that cold water definitely causes shrinkage. Why not make good use of this phenomenon for once?

Think About Something Else

The other line that gets tossed around with cold showers is, “Think about baseball.”

We’ll be honest: There’s basically nothing about baseball that makes it a special urology solution to genital tumescence. It’s simply an effective distraction when those arousing thoughts are stuck in a loop.

Picture your favorite ball game in your head. Do some math. Delete some spam. Whatever you do, do something distracting, mundane and completely devoid of sexual entertainment value. Being boring will put just about anything to sleep.

Handle the Situation

Men’s health is a complicated yet straightforward arena of rules. If arousing thoughts, situations, actions or contact has you a little, erm, hot and bothered, maybe it’s a project worth your DIY attention.

Masturbation is healthy within reason, and it’s a valuable tool in your arsenal.

Take Warm Baths

While some guys prefer the cold, a fair number of people also swear by the relaxing and calming benefits of soaking in a warm bath.

It’s definitely more comfortable than a hypothermia-style shock to the system. But let’s be honest: If you have time to draw a bath and the privacy to take one, maybe your erection worry isn’t an emergency.

Choose your chew

There are two times you should absolutely see a medical professional about your erections — priapism and erectile dysfunction.

Priapism, as we mentioned, is an erection lasting more than four hours. If you’re a little fuzzy on the time, it’s better to be safe than sorry in our book — get medical attention immediately.

As for ED, you should seek medical advice when the problem has established a pattern. Erectile dysfunction is when something goes wrong with this process — it’s defined as not being able to get or maintain an erection firm enough for sex.

A single occurrence of erectile dysfunction isn’t a medical issue. It can happen due to stress, alcohol intake and other factors that may not cause a recurring problem.

ED can affect anyone, though it’s most common in men on the older side, specifically over forty.

At its core, an erection is about blood flow to the penis. Besides being a natural part of the aging process for some men, numerous things can cause ED, including:

  • Neurological diseases

  • Cardiovascular issues

  • High blood pressure

  • Blood disorders

  • Obesity

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • Sleep disorders

  • Stress, anxiety, or depression

  • Relationship and other emotional issues

  • Prostate cancer treatments

  • Illegal drug use

  • Drinking too much alcohol

Let your healthcare provider know if you have any of these ED risk factors or contributors.

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Erections aren’t always a welcome occurrence, especially when there’s a chance other people will see them. While you may wish particular erections would go away and never come back, most guys still want erectile function at other times.

So making erections go away entirely isn’t the goal — and it’s really only possible when particular health conditions start creating serious side effects.

What if you’re having trouble getting hard? Trying to get your erections back on track? There are plenty of erectile dysfunction medications on the market.

ED medication like sildenafil, tadalafil and vardenafil (the generic versions of Viagra, Cialis and Stendra) can help reestablish healthy blood flow to the penis. These phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors (or PDE5 inhibitors) are generally safe when taken as directed.

Online therapy for problems like sexual performance anxiety and psychological ED can also help you work through mental roadblocks.

Want to know more? We’re here to assist. Our sexual health resources can help you:

  • Learn more about how the health of your blood vessels affects your erections

  • Find out how mental health can affect sexual intercourse and cause premature ejaculation

  • Find a healthcare provider to help with solving these problems

Reach out today.

4 Sources

  1. Dhaliwal A, Gupta M. PDE5 Inhibitors. [Updated 2023 Apr 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/.
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Symptoms & causes of erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes.
  3. Silberman M, Stormont G, Leslie SW, et al. Priapism. [Updated 2023 May 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459178/.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-d). Treatment for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/treatment.
Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown, MD

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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