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How to Stop Male Arousal

Mike Bohl, MD, MPH, ALM

Reviewed by Mike Bohl, MD

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 05/26/2022

Updated 03/27/2024

There are moments when it feels like you don’t have control of your body — and a random erection, well, is one of those moments. 

If you’ve been Googling things like “how to be less horny” or “how to lower sex drive instantly,” chances are that your libido might be interfering with other areas of your life.

Understanding why this is happening — and what you can do about it — can help put you back in control. Below we’ve explained how it’s possible to lower libido immediately and, over time, how to decrease libido to levels that fit your needs, desires and lifestyle.

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It’s important to understand the full picture of your sexual health, arousal and erections. An erection happens when blood flows into the penis and expands the erectile tissues. But how erections actually occur is from arousal. 

Male arousal can come from thoughts, fantasies or physical touch. This arousal is often referred to as reflexogenic (touch, sexual stimulation) and psychogenic (thoughts, fantasies). 

The other common type of arousal — nocturnal penile tumescence — happens during sleep. Nocturnal erections are very common. In fact, they’ve been documented in men from three years old all the way to 79 years old and they occur in men of all ages. 

That said, erections may happen when you don’t feel aroused, per se. The exact cause behind random erections is not entirely understood, but what we do know is that these types of erections are pretty common — especially in younger men.

While a high sex drive, high testosterone levels and a constant desire for intimacy aren’t necessarily problems on their own, these experiences can be problematic or distracting. 

There are many possible explanations for a high sex drive: higher hormone levels, pornography consumption and certain mental health conditions can contribute to a higher instance of masturbation, sexual impulses, lowered inhibitions and intrusive sexual thoughts.

Hypersexuality, compulsive sexual behavior and sexual urges that are difficult to control can affect your daily life. 

While sex addiction is a contested topic in the medical world, the reality is that anything that causes you to feel distress — even a high desire for sexual activity — should be addressed, not ignored. 

Being someone who experiences hypersexuality does not make you a bad person or a deviant. That said, not everything in life is about sex. If it feels challenging to draw and maintain that line, there are changes you can make to take better control. 

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There are plenty of circumstances where an erection is undesirable. If you happen to have an unwanted erection in a less-than-opportune time, here are a couple of things you might want to try. 

Gentle exercise 

To calm your body down and get rid of that unwanted erection, you may want to try some gentle exercises like stretching or a brisk walk. 

Exercising could put your mind in a different headspace, as you’ll be forced to focus on the task ahead. 

Breathe and wait it out 

Similarly, taking a couple deep breaths and just waiting it out might be your best bet. 

It may seem anxiety-inducing, but sometimes, there’s nothing we can really do about an erection other than wait it out.

Distract yourself 

Even if it's a random erection, there’s something aroused in your body. A distraction may help.

Putting on a TV show, reading a book or engaging in anything that’ll take your mind off it might help. 

*If you continue to experience random erections or are worried about random erections, erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation, contact your healthcare provider about getting help. 

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Having a higher libido isn’t necessarily a bad thing or something that you need to change. But, if you’re experiencing random erections, you might be concerned about your overall sex drive.

How to lower libido is really a question of understanding the triggers and patterns of your sex drive, and learning to manage those things. 

In instances like these, it may be worth seeking the expertise of a therapist to learn more about your relationship and your sexual desires. 

Couples therapy 

It’s quite common for couples’ sexual drives to be different. Sexual partners often experience sexual desire discrepancies, in which one partner is more interested in having sex than the other. Couples therapy can be a place for you and your partner to explore your libidos, sexual behaviors and what contributes to them. For some couples, this can create common ground for desirable sex. 

Individual therapy 

Your individual sexual satisfaction may be suffering even if you’re not in a relationship. Manageable sexual energy levels can still be achieved with the help of therapy even if you’re currently going solo.

Individual behavioral therapy would be a safe place for you to explore your own associations with sex and sexual desires, and what you are looking to change. 

Talking with your partner

Communication in any relationship is key. When you’re dealing specifically with mismatched libidos, communication is absolutely essential.

Talk with your partner about boundaries, expectations and workarounds to give both people clarity. 

Remember: teamwork makes the dream work — especially in the bedroom.

Anti-androgen pills 

The biochemical answer to “how to reduce sex drive in male patients” is anti-androgen pills. 

Anti-androgen pills are generally used to reduce testosterone. Although testosterone isn’t the only factor in sexual arousal, it does have an impact, and research suggests that lowering testosterone can reduce arousal in men. 

Antidepressants 

While typically used to treat depression, antidepressants like sertraline and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can impact sexual desire and lower libido. A therapy professional or healthcare provider can discuss options with you if this seems like a potential fit. 

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All men will experience changes in libido and in their sex lives. And things like random erections, erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are very common occurrences. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy sex life. 

If you’re wondering how to stop male arousal permanently, well, that’s more complicated — and may be a sign that you could benefit from talking to a mental health professional.

You might also be reading this and be more concerned about having a lower libido vs. a high one. If you’re interested in increasing your sex drive, there are different approaches you can take, as well. 

Immediate solutions for unwanted erections include distractions, exercise and patience. For libidos that seem excessive overall, therapy and various medications can help you manage things.

For now, if you have a random erection, know that it's common and doesn’t mean anything is wrong. None of us love feeling out of control, but arousal and sex are things you can take steps to influence and have more control over in the future, whether that’s simply understanding your own arousal or making changes in your sex life. 

5 Sources

  1. Planned Parenthood. (n.d). What’s the deal with erections, ejaculations and wet dreams? Retrieved from: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/teens/puberty/whats-deal-erections-ejaculation-and-wet-dreams
  2. Sachs, B. D. (1995). Placing erection in context: the reflexogenic-psychogenic dichotomy reconsidered. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 19(2), 211-224. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0149763494000637?via%3Dihub
  3. Karacan, I., Salis, P. J., Thornby, J. I., & Williams, R. L. (1976). The ontogeny of nocturnal penile tumescence. Waking & Sleeping, 1 2, 7–44. Retrieved from: https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1977-31151-001
  4. Graziottin, A. (2000). Libido: the biologic scenario. Maturitas, 34, S9-S16. Retrieved from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378512299000729
  5. Girard, A. (2019). Sexual Desire Discrepancy. Current Sexual Health Reports, 11(2), 80-83. Retrieved from: http://website60s.com/upload/files/2-sexual-desire-discrepancy.pdf
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.

Mike Bohl, MD

Dr. Mike Bohl is a licensed physician, a Medical Advisor at Hims & Hers, and the Director of Scientific & Medical Content at a stealth biotech startup, where he is involved in pharmaceutical drug development. Prior to joining Hims & Hers, Dr. Bohl spent several years working in digital health, focusing on patient education. He has also worked in medical journalism for The Dr. Oz Show (receiving recognition for contributions from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences when the show won Outstanding Informative Talk Show at the 2016–2017 Daytime Emmy® Awards) and at Sharecare. He is a Medical Expert Board Member at Eat This, Not That! and a Board Member at International Veterinary Outreach.

Dr. Bohl obtained his Bachelor of Arts and Doctor of Medicine from Brown University, his Master of Public Health from Columbia University, and his Master of Liberal Arts in Extension Studies—Journalism from Harvard University. He is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration and Master of Science in Healthcare Leadership at Cornell University. Dr. Bohl trained in internal medicine with a focus on community health at NYU Langone Health.

Dr. Bohl is Certified in Public Health by the National Board of Public Health Examiners, Medical Writer Certified by the American Medical Writers Association, a certified Editor in the Life Sciences by the Board of Editors in the Life Sciences, a Certified Personal Trainer and Certified Nutrition Coach by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and a Board Certified Medical Affairs Specialist by the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs. He has graduate certificates in Digital Storytelling and Marketing Management & Digital Strategy from Harvard Extension School and certificates in Business Law and Corporate Governance from Cornell Law School.

In addition to his written work, Dr. Bohl has experience creating medical segments for radio and producing patient education videos. He has also spent time conducting orthopedic and biomaterial research at Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals of Cleveland and practicing clinically as a general practitioner on international medical aid projects with Medical Ministry International.

Dr. Bohl lives in Manhattan and enjoys biking, resistance training, sailing, scuba diving, skiing, tennis, and traveling. You can find Dr. Bohl on LinkedIn for more information.

Publications

  • Younesi, M., Knapik, D. M., Cumsky, J., Donmez, B. O., He, P., Islam, A., Learn, G., McClellan, P., Bohl, M., Gillespie, R. J., & Akkus, O. (2017). Effects of PDGF-BB delivery from heparinized collagen sutures on the healing of lacerated chicken flexor tendon in vivo. Acta biomaterialia, 63, 200–209. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1742706117305652?via%3Dihub

  • Gebhart, J. J., Weinberg, D. S., Bohl, M. S., & Liu, R. W. (2016). Relationship between pelvic incidence and osteoarthritis of the hip. Bone & joint research, 5(2), 66–72. https://boneandjoint.org.uk/Article/10.1302/2046-3758.52.2000552

  • Gebhart, J. J., Bohl, M. S., Weinberg, D. S., Cooperman, D. R., & Liu, R. W. (2015). Pelvic Incidence and Acetabular Version in Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis. Journal of pediatric orthopedics, 35(6), 565–570. https://journals.lww.com/pedorthopaedics/abstract/2015/09000/pelvic_incidence_and_acetabular_version_in_slipped.5.aspx

  • Islam, A., Bohl, M. S., Tsai, A. G., Younesi, M., Gillespie, R., & Akkus, O. (2015). Biomechanical evaluation of a novel suturing scheme for grafting load-bearing collagen scaffolds for rotator cuff repair. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 30(7), 669–675. https://www.clinbiomech.com/article/S0268-0033(15)00143-6/fulltext

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