Erection during massage — What to do?

Dear Alice,

I'm a thirty-something man who has a happy but often stressful life. I'd like to get a massage every now and then, but I'm worried about what might happen when I'm virtually naked and being rubbed all over by another person. In other words, I'm worried about getting an erection during a massage. It seems like there would be no way to hide it.

How do I deal with this? How do masseuses deal with this when it happens? Do they expect their male clients to get aroused? Would they think I'm perverted when I'm lying on the table and standing at attention?

Thanks for your advice,


Dear Stressed,

It’s understandable that you’re worried about a potential erection during a massage. Erections, no matter how common, can be unpredictable, and hence, a cause of worry. But rest assured, this topic is discussed by massage therapists in training — not because clients who get erections are viewed as perverted, but because it is a normal aspect of anatomy and physiology.

During a massage, as the body relaxes, some people may fall asleep, drool, or pass gas — all of which are completely normal physical responses to tension relief. But, like erections, these normal occurrences are stigmatized socially as embarrassing. The irony is somewhat amusing when you think about it — the goal of massage is to relax, but as your body shows signs of relaxation, you become preoccupied with how those responses may be perceived. Many massage therapists and health care professionals try to normalize these bodily functions and responses to decrease clients’ feelings of anxiety or insecurity.

Many people have learned to associate erections with purely sexual arousal — but, in fact, erections occur for a variety of reasons. They can occur during sleep, when someone is angry or scared, or when someone is deeply relaxed, like during a massage. Reflexive erections, a normal physiological response to touch, relaxation, etc., can go away within minutes. Massage therapist know this and will often simply ignore an erection during a session, as long as the client is behaving appropriately. Some masseuses and/or clients may choose to address the potential issue in advance. As the client, you can discuss the topic with the massage therapist before a session, if it helps soothe your concerns. Some online discussion boards also suggest wearing bikini fit underwear as a preventative and concealing option. One user posted that he will think of an anti-erection inducing topic, like retirement planning, if he feels one coming on.

The bottom line, Stressed — try not to stress about it. You are certainly not alone in your worry. Erections are a normal part of your body’s response to relaxation — and a professional massage therapist will likely be understanding. Therapeutic massage is a great option for stress relief. As such, you may want to check out the Seeking massage therapist for resources on finding a certified massage therapist.

Hope this helps!

Originally published Oct 03, 2014

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