Erections During a Massage

Erections on the Massage TableErections during a professional massage happen there is no doubt about it.  The way the massage therapist responds to it will depend on their level of professionalism and of course the situation.  How the massage therapist responds can influence the therapeutic relationship which is the basis of interaction in a massage room. Getting an erection on the massage table can be as embarrassing to the client as is is to the massage therapist.

What should you do if you notice your client has an erection?

  • Run out of the room screaming for help?
  • Close your eyes and hope you are seeing things
  • Say something?
  • Work deeper on another area of the body that is less sensual
  • Throw a towel over it
  • Say something general like “Oh, That happens”

Erections are a natural occurrence that can not be controlled.  Each situation will have to be evaluated.  First if there is obvious threat to your safety and well being with the male client asking you to do something about it or he is sexually stimulating himself- get out of there right away without saying or doing anything else.  Be ready to call the police if the person does not exit immediately.

That being said most cases are innocent and do not mean anything.  If you respond with disapproval or further embarrass the person it can be damaging to their emotional well being.  Some men will not seek out massage because they worry so much about getting an erection during massages.

For women massage therapists in particular, erections are often associated with thinking that the client is coming on to them and thinking of the massage as something sexual rather than therapeutic.  They can also begin to think that they are giving the wrong message to the client.


Cherie Sohnen Moe in her book “Ethics of Touch” says:

Several realities shape female perceptions of erections.  Many were raised with pervasive myths about erections:  If you are with a man and he has an erection a) you have caused it and b) you are responsible for taking care of it.   Additionally, erections are often associated with rape and sexual violence.


Nina McIntosh in her book “Educated Heart” says this:

Some people wrongly believe that if a man is having an erection the practitioner must immediately end the session. There is the misconception that for a man to have an erection, he must be deliberately sexualizing the situation and either mentally or physically stimulating himself. The truth is that having an erection can be an innocent accident and just as embarrassing to the client as it may be anxiety producing for the practitioner.”

Women often react in fear to a male erection on their massage table because of the many cases of men looking for something more than just a massage. They think that if they don’t stop the massage, it may escalate to something more like an unsafe situation for themselves. Since erections on the massage table are not talked about much dealing from a place of fear can add to the embarrassment and shaming of both parties. You don’t want to add to the situation, yet you want to protect yourself.

If a male is obviously doing things to bring on an erection or relieve an erection it has no place in the massage room.

Each case has to be looked at individually. If the client has a past relationship with you and hasn’t had this issue come up before, it is most likely ok to continue working or talk about it.

If it is a new client and they are making sexual comments or acting inappropriately, a massage therapist has the right to end the massage at any time.
Terrie Yardly-Nohr in her book “Ethics for Massage Therapists” says it this way:

A therapist has the right to refuse to treat a client if the therapist determines that the therapeutic relationship cannot be maintained in an ethical manner.

If a massage therapist finds themselves constantly getting clients who are seeking more than just a massage it is often a good idea to have the massage therapist take a deeper look at their intentions and professional image. ( I actually worked with a massage therapist who was having this problem and she couldn’t figure out why. When I looked at her website I saw pictures of her in sexy tank tops showing more than was needed. Another always worked without proper draping and wondered why erections were more common.)

The more we can talk seriously about issues like this, the stronger we can become as a profession setting boundaries that can protect the massage therapist and educate clients. Healing on both sides of the issue can happen.

How to deal with Erections on the massage table.

  • Assess the situation – are they asking for something more?  Can you clear the situation up by explaining that you don’t do that or do you have to send them out the door?  It is possible to have a regular client get caught up in the physical aspects of it all and ask for something more and still continue the relationship.  You have to decide but also know that shaming men more for this can be damaging.   Are they laying quietly ignoring the situation?  Don’t do anything.
  • You can use thicker sheets or place a thick towel on top of the client’s erection to cover things up more.
  • Have a section on your website explaining the situation to tell people it is normal.
  • Talk about it if necessary.

So dealing with an erection on the massage table is a matter of evaluating the circumstances and using compassion.

And don’t forget that women also can be stimulated during a professional massage but of course it isn’t as obvious or as much of a threat although I have heard stories of male massage therapists  getting special requests from women clients.

Since erections do happen we need to be able to deal with them in the manner that supports us both professionally and personally. Nina McIntosh in her book “Educated Heart” says this:

Some people wrongly believe that if a man is having an erection the practitioner must immediately end the session. There is the misconception that for a man to have an erection, he must be deliberately sexualizing the situation and either mentally or physically stimulating himself. The truth is that having an erection can be an innocent accident and just as embarrassing to the client as it may be anxiety producing for the practitioner.”

Women often react in fear to a male erection on their massage table because of the many cases of men looking for something more than just a massage. They think that if they don’t stop the massage, it may escalate to something more like an unsafe situation for themselves. Since erections on the massage table are not talked about much dealing from a place of fear can add to the embarrassment and shaming of both parties. You don’t want to add to the situation, yet you want to protect yourself.

If a male is obviously doing things to bring on an erection or relieve an erection it has no place in the massage room.

Each case has to be looked at individually. If the client has a past relationship with you and hasn’t had this issue come up before, it is most likely ok to continue working or talk about it.
If it is a new client and they are making sexual comments or acting inappropriately, a massage therapist has the right to end the massage at any time.
Terrie Yardly-Nohr in her book “Ethics for Massage Therapists” says it this way:

A therapist has the right to refuse to treat a client if the therapist determines that the therapeutic relationship cannot be maintained in an ethical manner.

If a massage therapist finds themselves constantly getting clients who are seeking more than just a massage it is often a good idea to have the massage therapist take a deeper look at their intentions and professional image. ( I actually worked with a massage therapist who was having this problem and she couldn’t figure out why. When I looked at her website I saw pictures of her in sexy tank tops showing more than was needed. Another always worked without proper draping and wondered why erections were more common.)

The more we can talk seriously about issues like this, the stronger we can become as a profession setting boundaries that can protect the massage therapist and educate clients. Healing on both sides of the issue can happen.

 

And NO – for those who are finding this page by searching for erections during massage and happy endings – NO!  Happy endings are acts of prostitution and are illegal!

 

 

18 thoughts on “Erections During a Massage

  1. This is such a necessary article for those studying massage. Thank you Julie!

    The notion of this being unconscious or incidental has me thinking whether somehow body memory (energetic/emotional and cellular) may be involved resulting from former touch experiences to certain muscles; in which case this phenomenon may be indicative of a release and healing. But also how dynamically this may be working with someone’s breath and circulation changes.. Very multifaceted.

  2. As a client, if this happens during supine, i just say “would you throw a towel over that?” Then its clear that theres no expectations other than clinical work.

  3. Females discussing the intimate details of the male erection and arriving at questionable conclusions. Comedy central.

    “They think that if they don’t stop the massage, it may escalate to something more like an unsafe situation for themselves.”

    Such as?? Just act as a mature adult, explain the situation factually, and do your job and get paid. It’s only awkward and embarrassing if you make it so.

  4. I have always worn fitted briefs to cover my genitals and anus. I’ve never gone fully nude, but I may give it a shot the next time I get a massage.

    If I do get an erections, is it best to do/say nothing and let the therapist continue normally? That’s what I’d assume is appropriate.

    One time, I told a therapist that I had gas, and it didn’t seem to bother her at all. I’m assuming that erections are a similar issue.

    Advice?

  5. If this occurs, especially if it is not intentional just simply ask your client to turn over and work on another area…

  6. Not completely true. As a man with a strong sexual appetite and a good control over that, I had various situations that could have become ambiguous. If I desired I would let my fantasies go, and get an erection just cause the simple thing is thrilling to me. But in most cases I decided it was inappropriate, and kept my fantasies to me without letting them become obvious from the outside. In Many cases also with my girlfriend, in total nudity and body contact, I can decide not to bring out an erection even if it is not a problem between us. But I never stop fantasizing about what could happen. The fact that an erection in presence of an attractive woman is non controllable is not true. It is not a reflex. When I desire an erection I have an erection. When I feel attraction I can let it go and become erect. But it comes from my mind, even if sometimes it is difficult to control. Even if someone is not fully in control of the thing, I believe he, in his mind, desires sexual contact and the erection is a mean of body communication to let the woman know he is ready. It is not an harassment, it is simply how the mind of a sexual active male works, when attracted by a woman.

  7. I just got kicked out of my current massage place because I got an errection during my last massage.

    Seriously makes me feel like absolute shit.
    I never hit on her, showed any sexual interest, or asked her to “take care of it.”
    She never said it was a problem or anything of the sort.
    My arm is currently injured so I can’t masturbate, so erections at the moment are uncontrolled, even while standing.

    This has really wrecked my day and self confidence.

  8. I had a massage when I was 17 by another man at a gym. I am not gay and neither was he, it was so embarrassing, I would never have another, I did not know where to look, it put me off. I don’t think people realize how much a touch on the inner thigh does to a guy.

  9. I always ask for a male therapist and I did have erections from time to time, and depending on the situation such as hadn’t had sex for a while, or being in the summer etc. I always apologise and say I’m sorry could you give me a minute please? I need to make an emergency call to work…! This will save embarrassment for both parties, also to release the tension. However I’m lucky enough to have a regular male massage therapist who just simply says : ” don’t worry about it ” and continues to work on other less sensitive areas. Tip: rib cage rubbing with knuckles is an erection killer! Believe it or not. Learned it in Sri Lanka…..

  10. Go fully nude, always…. a true professional would want you to have enough trust to do it. Also there is a massage technique that the therapist would lift your arm, working on your side from your palm to wrist to forearm to tricep to armpit to side rib cage to side of hip then thigh and knee and ankle to foot. This is truly amazing. But if you ware briefs, that would not be done in one fluid stroke! Also the therapist needs to work from your should blade to your glute, again, wearing briefs would not have the benefit at all! Hope it helps.

  11. I know it is inappropriate but it happend to me that just minutes after receiving massage I got a hard erection and cummed. Obviously it was unintentional. I felt most embarassaed. I asked her to leave me for a few minutes in mid session so I could clean it. So embarassed…

  12. As a massage therapist myself, I can tell you that the most common reason for an erection is being relaxed and it is usually nonsexual. I am a heterosexual man and have had other heterosexual men get erections on my massage table. I simply tell them that’s ok, it happens sometimes. Because truth be told, from the scientific standpoint an erection in response to being relaxed is as natural as breathing. It’s only an indicator that blood flow id’s getting better. We just live in such a prudish society in the United States. In Europe, no draping is used and erections are treated as a normal occurrence.

    Now on the flip side, if someone asks for a sexual favor or happy ending, I will happily end the massage and ask them to leave. But my experience has been that it is only triggered by deep relaxation.

  13. It happens to me (a client).
    It is not intentional, I ignore it and expect the MT to do the same.
    If it happens, it means I’m relaxed, which means the MT is doing a good job.
    I can, and have avoided it, ironically by focusing on it, which means I’m not relaxed.
    During a massage, I try to completely clear my mind; I meditate by focusing on my breath.
    As is necessary in meditation, any thoughts and/or bodily sensations/reactions are simply noticed, acknowledged and then let go of.
    I am most comfortable and relaxed during a massage when I don’t have to think about the fact that I am vulnerable – naked on a table with a virtual stranger touching me in very intimate ways.
    I have had MTs who take draping too far, swaddling me like a baby – this only reminds me of my nudity and makes me feel self conscious and less able to relax and let go.
    If the MT seems afraid of exposing me, the more afraid I feel of being exposed.
    The more attention that is paid to covering my body parts, the more attention is being drawn to those body parts.
    I get massages for pain relief and relaxation, not for a sexual thrill.
    It has never happened, yet, but if a MT were to call attention to this natural, unintentional response, I would be mortified and angry.
    I had one chatty MT raise the issue, in a round about way and not while it was occurring (but it had in the past) and I told her that I’d rather not even discuss it, but since she brought it up, I told her my attitude (it’s unintentional, it is a sign of total relaxation, and both parties should ignore it).
    I mentioned that I worry more and would be far more embarrassed about having gas that I couldn’t control.
    We both laughed and she agreed that that would be a more unpleasant situation.
    Someone pursuing a career in MT should be completely comfortable with every aspect of the human body, male and female.
    If YOU sexualize the body and the natural responses thereof, that is on you, and you should either limit your clientele to the same sex (which won’t necessarily avoid the issue) or you should find another career.
    I’m aware that there are men who seek out and/or expect female MTs to go beyond what is appropriate in a therapeutic setting; IMO they are not much worse than female MTs who behave as if all male clients want such attention.

  14. I had a message a while back and the therapist was rubbing my inner thigh. The sheet was rubbing me and i realized i had a full blown erection after about 2 min. It had to have been obvious because the sheet was thin. She didnt seem to mind or say anything. However when she went to the other leg the back of her hand kept bumping my erection. at this point i think she knew what she was doing. but neither of us said anything. i never went back

  15. I usually go to a spa run all by Chinese women with absolutely no English. I get the 90 minute massage and it’s usually extremely sensual (not sexual). I am not sure if it’s meant or not but It’s definitely very insinuating. However, they never go there. And neither do I. Even if I wanted. I am sooo relaxed that I can never GET an erection (and do not suffer from it either). It’s only if the therapist behaves sexually with me that I would get in the mood. Then, I am not relaxed at all.

  16. Hello,
    I’d like to clarify something quite important from this quote, which I’ve cut and pasted from the above author included in this blog:
    “If it is a new client and they are making sexual comments or acting inappropriately, a massage therapist has the right to end the massage at any time.
    Terrie Yardly-Nohr in her book “Ethics for Massage Therapists” says it this way:

    “A therapist has the right to refuse to treat a client if the therapist determines that the therapeutic relationship cannot be maintained in an ethical manner.”
    I feel the need to add and clarify this specific wording used my Terrie Yardly-Nohr.
    I’ve been practicing massage for 16 years.
    During this amazing journey of growing & learning thru my practice, I have come to experience only a few men acting inappropriately. In these cases, I feel, we have not only an OBVIOUS RIGHT, to end the session & any future relationship with said patient, then and there, BUT AS IMPORTANTLY, as our RIGHT, we have the ‘RESPONSIBILITY’ do end it.
    These are part of the High Standards & Ethics which we must work from in order to preserve our Industry of Massage.
    Thank you for this platform in which to learn and share.
    Namaste

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