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No Morning Wood: Does it Mean You Have Erectile Dysfunction?

6 min read
No Morning Wood: Does it Mean You Have Erectile Dysfunction?

Whether you call it morning wood, morning glory, pitching a tent, or some other humorous name, waking up with an erection is normal for men. Despite it being normal, morning erections can be a confusing phenomenon, with some people believing they’ve had an arousing dream or are generally more aroused in the morning. However, the scientific name for morning wood is Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT). NPT refers to when individuals experience erections during sleep or shortly afterward.

Contrary to what some people may believe, when nocturnal erections occur it’s not a sign of a sex dream or feeling aroused in your sleep. NPT is a sign of healthy erectile function, with men experiencing multiple erections each night. NPT may occur during rapid eye movement (REM) phases of sleep.

Given that NPT is part of healthy erectile function, it’s understandable that men may become concerned if they don’t get morning wood.

In some cases, a lack of erections during the night may be an indicator of erectile dysfunction. This article explores what causes NPT and what it might mean when you don’t have morning wood.

TL;DR Summary:

  • Morning wood, scientifically known as Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT), refers to the occurrence of erections during sleep or upon waking.
  • Morning erections are a normal sign of healthy erectile function and not necessarily linked to sexual arousal or dreams.
  • Lack of morning wood can be caused by various factors, including mental health conditions like depression or lifestyle habits like smoking.
  • It's possible that the absence of NPT may indicate erectile dysfunction (ED), and Nocturnal Penile Tumescence testing can be used to diagnose ED.
  • If you stop experiencing morning wood, it's advisable to consult a doctor for a professional opinion and testing.
  • Wet dreams, or nocturnal emissions, are separate from NPT and can occur without sexually stimulating dreams.


What causes the Morning Wood?

The exact cause of morning erections is unknown, with most explanations based on theory rather than facts backed by research. They range from people believing they’ve had an erotic dream to them feeling horny when they wake up. However, two of the most common theories for the cause of morning wood are as follows:

Theory 1: to prevent urination on a full bladder

If an individual’s getting the recommended amount of sleep they may find themselves sleeping for up to 8 hours a night. If you sleep through the entire night without waking to urinate, by the time you do wake it’s common to feel like you’re in urgent need of the restroom.

Diagram  of the Sleep Time Recommendation by Age

One of the theories surrounding morning erections is that they’re a mechanism to prevent urination when your bladder gets full. It’s unclear where this theory originated however, If you’ve tried urinating with an erection you’ll be familiar with the uncomfortable momentary sensation that feels like urination is being blocked from taking place.

Theory 2: Due to hormones

The second theory of why morning wood occurs is to do with how hormones operate when you wake up. The theory is based on individuals having higher testosterone levels when they first wake up, with people believing that morning wood occurs due to increased testosterone levels in the morning.

There’s research that notes the impact that sleep can have on the male sex hormone testosterone, with links between higher testosterone levels and increased sleep duration. Testosterone's role in erectile function has long been debated but there are links between the two. For example, in men with erectile dysfunction and testosterone deficiency, testosterone replacement therapy has been found to be effective in treating ED in up to 40% of cases.

Curious about testosterone and its effects on men's health?

What does it mean if I stop getting the Morning Wood?

If you stop getting morning wood it’s natural to feel concerned and curious as to why it’s happened. The loss of NPT can be down to a number of factors ranging from mental health conditions to lifestyle factors. One example of a reason men may lose NPT is depression.

Men with the mental health condition may find that their nocturnal erectile function is affected. Research studies claim that some depressed men may experience diminished nocturnal penile tumescence. There is also a strong link between erectile dysfunction and depression, with some research suggesting that the reversal of depressive symptoms can lead to the recovery of erectile function in men with ED.

Although it’s better known for physical health risks than sexual damage, an example of a lifestyle factor that may affect your NPT is smoking

It’s thought that smoking cigarettes may have a negative impact on erectile function. A study evaluated 314 smokers with erectile dysfunction, measuring their nocturnal erectile function. They found that the group of men who smoked the most cigarettes had the least minutes of nocturnal tumescence.

Is losing the Morning Wood a sign of ED?

The simple answer to this question is maybe. While losing morning wood isn’t always a sign of erectile dysfunction, it’s possible that it could be. Research notes that NPT is typically present in healthy men and that an absence of it may be a good indicator of erectile dysfunction.

In fact, measuring a person's ability to achieve erections while they sleep can be a way to test for erectile dysfunction.

This is referred to as Nocturnal penile tumescence testing, which involves the patient wearing a device on their penis while they sleep. Using the device, medical professionals can analyze whether the patient's penis exhibits regular nocturnal activity. If you believe that you may be experiencing erectile dysfunction you should consult a doctor for a professional opinion and testing.

What to do if you stop getting morning wood

If you stop getting morning wood, it’s natural to wonder why it’s happened and what you should do about it. In some cases, the cause may be natural. For example, research found that among 40 sexually healthy men (aged between 23 and 73 years old), the majority of the men over 60 years old didn’t have full sleep erections despite successfully having regular intercourse with a partner.

It should be noted that a lack of morning wood may be a sign of a health condition or sexual dysfunction.

You may consider ED self-tests to explore the possibility of erectile dysfunction. In the case of suspected ED, you should always seek guidance from a doctor, which is the only way to confirm an erectile dysfunction diagnosis.

If you have ED, your doctor's recommendations for treatment will vary depending on what’s causing the condition. The cause of the dysfunction may range from health conditions to lifestyle habits. Making changes to your lifestyle such as becoming more active, eating a healthier diet and reducing caloric intake have all been associated with improvements in erectile dysfunction.

What do wet dreams have in common with NPT?

While both NPT and wet dreams (also known as nocturnal emissions) can be confusing, they are both considered healthy sexual functions. Like morning wood, plenty of theories exist surrounding why wet dreams take place.

One of the most common beliefs is that wet dreams occur because an individual had an arousing dream.

A research study found that over 80% of participants experiencing wet dreams dreamt about having vaginal intercourse with a woman. However, the research also states that individuals who have dreams with no erotic materials may also experience nocturnal emissions. So as with NPT, wet dreams may occur without the individual experiencing a sexually stimulating dream.

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Morning wood is often considered a result of sexual dreams but this isn’t the case. Erections shortly after waking are not caused by sexual arousal and are often due to NPT - a sign of healthy penile function. When a person lacks nocturnal erectile function it can be concerning, it may indicate that they are experiencing ED which isn’t always the case.

A lack of morning wood may be a result of health-related or lifestyle factors.

If you believe you have abnormal erectile function while sleeping or awake you should seek guidance from a doctor. Although the information in this article is intended to be informative, it cannot be considered a substitute for professional medical advice.

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