So sometimes you get them and sometimes you don’t? Morning erections are totally normal. In fact if you don’t get them on a regular basis then it could be a sign that something is not quite right. It’s actually a natural response and not normally anything to do with excessive sexual thoughts or erotic dreams (although it can be).
Want to find out more on why this happens to so many men? Here are a few medical reasons for the morning erections….
First of all during the night it is common for men to have around 5 erections. A study done published in the Archives of General Psychiatry connects these mid sleep erections to the REM sleep cycle. REM means “Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Cycle”. During your sleep your brain cycle shuts down in specific areas to prevent you from acting out your dreams and sleep thoughts. The specific brain pathway of the noradrenergic cells is the pathway that shuts down. When it does, it leads to an increase in levels of erections led by the need for testosterone in the body. It doesn’t mean that your sleep thoughts are related to sexual encounters. The erections happen as a result of the brain activity going on and not the other way round.
During REM the brain also releases a compound called Nitric Oxide. When you are asleep you are generally relaxed and your muscles are smooth. Nitric Oxide acts as an extra muscle relaxant but at the same time it causes blood vessels to dilate. The scrotal area is full of blood vessels so when more blood flow is initiated and the blood vessels dilate in the scrotal area it causes a man to get an erection. (This is mechanism of action and how Viagra works. It increases blood flow to the penis and causes an erection)
Along with these REM initiated reactions is the natural rise and fall of testosterone levels in a daily cycle. Naturally a man’s testosterone production peaks in the morning creating a rise in blood testosterone levels. The testosterone levels then subside over the next 24 hours and rise again the following morning, and so the cycle continues. Low testosterone is one of the main causes of erectile dysfunction. High testosterone levels increase the chance of erections and sexual thoughts. One of the most common reasons for morning erections is down to these rising testosterone levels. When a man is fully awake and in control of his emotions it’s easier to suppress the erection. In the sleepiness of the morning, as a man awakes, the erections are not possible to control.
During daytime and nighttime many body functions repair and regenerate. It’s how our body maintains its health. Elements in the body are always working to restore and regenerate, it’s how cells in the body keep us going and its how we grow. Another theory for morning erections is related to this and how the body maintains the health of the penis. When an erection happens the corpora cavernosa, tissue of the penis, swells and oxygenates. This helps to maintain the function of the penis and how it copes with erections. It’s like giving air to your penis. Without regular erections and the swelling of the penile tissue other disease can ensue as the tissue is not being maintained and restored.
Every man is different; some get 5 erections a day some get 5 a week. If a man does not regularly experience erections then they can start to experience erectile dysfunction when they do actually want to get an erection but it doesn’t happen) or the get an erection but it doesn’t last. Having erections also contribute to issues like cavernous fibrosis. This is when thick fibers form within the tissue of the penis. Having regular erections help to prevent such issues due to the repair and regeneration of the tissues that happen during and after a man has an erection. This can also lead to erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction plagues many men at one point or another in their lives. If you suffer from erectile dysfunction it could indicate early signs of other illnesses too. For example, it can lead to heart disease. A study published in 2009 by the journal of Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that men with ED were 80% more likely to develop heart disease within 10 years from experiencing regular erectile dysfunction. The study focused on 1,400 men who had no previous history of heart disease. At the age of 40 a man’s testosterone levels start declining gradually. This can lead to erectile dysfunction along with other factors. It’s interesting to read in this report that men in their 40’s were more likely to develop heart disease along with their erectile dysfunction than their peers who do not have erectile dysfunction. It seems the two are definitely linked. In 2005 The Journal of American Medical Association also showed that out of 9,000 men the risks were also at 45%.
In short, morning erections are natural and healthy and nothing to worry about.
If you feel that your morning erections are becoming less then visit the doctor about them. It could be a sign of sleep pattern disturbance, low testosterone production or an impending sign that your body will start experiencing erectile dysfunction when you don’t want it to happen.