Guys: Why do men get so many erections while asleep? (could be TMI)

My husband has a nearly nonexistent sex drive due to medication for depression he is on. He has a lot of difficulty getting and maintaining an erection. But I’ve noticed very often that when he is sleeping, he is just busting out of his shorts, I mean rock solid ! I’ve asked him if he’s having erotic dreams and he said no, his dreams are generally either mundane or nightmarish (I know he’s not lying, b/c he knows I don’t care if he was dreaming about some buxom celebrity or not). So what else could be causing the unconscious wood?

(FYI, there have been a few occasions when I couldn’t resist paying it some attention, but he told me that for some reason touching the sleep-bone feels uncomfortable.)

People don’t remember all their dreams, so it’s possible he was having a porn dream at the time.

I don’t have a good cite handy (a hint is found in this abstract), but I’ve read before that erections are a normal part of REM sleep, irrespective of the subject matter of dreams.

Quite often it has to do with having to piss… although why I don’t get an erection when I’m awake and have to piss is another question.

At least your husband is capable of getting an erection in his sleep… that way you know there isn’t something physically wrong with him.

If I have to piss while I’m awake, but there’s no bathroom available, I often get one.

Take advantage of it. I often wake up in the morning with wood, so the wife has adapted quite readily to “wake-up” sex. There isn’t a lot of afterplay, because of an urgent need to pee on my part and the approaching work day, but it is still satisfying and a great way to face the day! :smiley:

      • If he sleeps on his stomach, then he is getting them because of restricted blood flow. If blood flow to the (concerned) is restricted, it becomes erect in order to alleviate the matter. -To get needed circulation to the area, and if he is sleeping on his front, getting an erection while sleeping on one’s stomach is uncomfortable–which causes him to shift to another position as well.
  • I had a girl who tried to “awaken me with romance”, and I didn’t like it either. At some point she thought it would be a nice surprise. Every day. The instant I woke up I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and within a few seconds I felt like I had to piss so bad my bladder was going to explode. At that instant I wanted no part of anything female, thanks. Not romantic at all, really.
  • There is a technique that can be used to take advantage of the former above, but it requires the guy laying on his front in such a way as to purposely restrict blood flow, causing the desired effect. Most women don’t like it when the guy lies on his front however, because they want to “cuddle” and so they think that the guy is trying to ignore them.
    -----Bwha ha ha !!! Choose between cuddling with a limp-dick or being ignored while you wait for a hard-on! Such is life. Oh well.

Actually, nocturnal erection perform an important function. The corpora cavernosa [two spongy vascular beds that run the length of the penis, and are responsible for erection) actually have poor blood supply during the day. They are lined with a special endothelium that is fairly resistant to poor oxygenation, but without nightly spontaneous erections, the corpus cavernosum [that’s the singular form] will tend to deteriorate over time, leading to degradation or loss of erectile function. If allowed to progress, this kind of damage may not be overcome by Viagra very well, AFAIK.

At least that was what I was taught in med school, by a researcher who (I’m told) was important in the early research on Viagra. I have read review articles that were less certain of this principle, and called the reason for nocturnal erection “uncertain” or “unknown” but I felt the physiological studies he presented were compelling.

RE: The OP:
Yeah, happens all the time. “Night wood” seems to be related to the need to urinate. It is uncomfortable if you haven’t gone in a long while. You can’t pee with an erection (or at least, it is very difficult). Perhaps it’s a way to prevent pissing the bed; not a bad thing. IMHO, it never prevented sex, just made it a bit more, um, urgent. Post-coitus; GOTTA PEE! :slight_smile:

I agree to the the “wake-up sex”, as I’ve got older my best erection comes in the early morning hours. Some times my wife checks to see if “I’m up”, if so she wakes me. Other times I wake and find I’m erect I wake her… like you say not much, in our case, any foreplay at that time. :smiley:
And sure don’t to want to waste one! :smiley:

Made only that much more difficult by a quantity of viscous blockage and still fairly elevated cannon.
OP: Sex drive is different from erection. On antidepressants I spent a lot of time just not wanting any. I was always “satisfied,” with every aspect of my life. Still woke up with my trusty “friend.” Sometimes I’d actually tell it to “go away, no time for that.”

The other edge of the sword is that when I finally did start thinking it might be good to take the log to the beaver, it was a never ending story. I was satisfied before I started. Almost as bad as not showing up in the first place.

This is correct. Males normally have penile erections during REM (or dreaming) sleep. (And females have clitoral erections.) This reaction is so typical that it is used as a diagnosis of whether or not problems with erectile function are due to an organic cause or are psychological in nature. Men with an organic cause (nerve damage, poor circulation) will fail to have erections during sleep, while those with a pyschological cause will continue to have them.

From here:

An erection on waking up is not due to the need to urinate - this is merely coincidental. It just means you have been dreaming shortly before waking. Think about it - do you get an erection when you have to urinate when you’re awake?

With regard to “restricted blood flow,” these erections occur regardless of which position you sleep in.

I recall hearing in college biology that the voluntary nervous systems role in regulating erections is largely inhibitory. When that part of the nervous system is disconnected from the rest of the body, as during REM sleep, the parasympathetic nervous system takes over and orders a whole bunch of erections. I’ve heard that some paralyzed men run into similar problems all the time.

KP is right. It’s not that extra blood gets pumped into a penis to make it erect, it’s that blood flow is restricted to make it flaccid. Erections occur during sleep to make sure it gets enough blood to be healthy.

Folks, reread Colibri’s post again.

He’s got it right and, you may note, he and E. Thorpe are the only one to have a cite to back them up.

It has to do with REM sleep. Nothing else. Period.

To elaborate a little on the proximate causes of REM-sleep erections, I would mention that REM sleep is characterized by loss of muscle tone:

Erections are caused by the relaxation of smooth muscle within the penis which allows blood to enter:

From here:

Although there is a difference between voluntary (striated) muscle and involuntary (smooth) muscle, I would guess that the relaxation of the muscle in the erection bodies is likely to be related to the general loss of muscle tone in the body during dreaming sleep. So the erection is an indirect result of the need to keep from acting out our dreams.

It is possible that, as KP says, these erections do have some physiological benefit, but I think this may be merely incidental.

“It’s because I’m dreaming of you, dear.” That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.

An interesting link with a startling revelation:


Heh, If the opposite were true I’d be referring to Jonas Falcon as “Tiny”.

Unless I’ve missed something, all we seem to have cites for is that erections are a normal part or REM sleep. Do we know why this is the case? What is it about REM sleep that causes an erection? Colibri has an idea, but I just spent some time with a search engine and I can’t find any more informative cites.