Experiencing morning wood – or nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) – is a great indicator that a penis is functioning normally. It’s perfectly fine to get nocturnal erections regardless of age. It’s a sign that both your vascular and nervous system is chugging along without any issue.
But what if you’ve stopped getting morning wood?
Should you get worried?
Let’s talk about nocturnal penile tumescence and whether the lack of it should be a cause for concern or not.
What Is “Morning Wood” (Also Called Nocturnal Erections)?
The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for men getting nocturnal erections. It kicks in whenever our body is in a state of rest or recovery. That means it’s active whenever you’re in REM sleep.
If you’re wondering what morning wood is and what to do about it, keep in mind that a morning erection is usually common, but may be a symptom of a deeper issue requiring treatment.
A man can actually experience more than one erection while sleeping. But you’re only able to notice the one erection you got after waking up.
There are several theories on what causes morning wood:
- Stimulation — When the penis is stimulated while you’re asleep and it’s physically stimulated, say, someone or something brushing against it, it can become erect.
- Hormones — Testosterone levels are at its peak in the morning, especially right after REM sleep.
- Relaxation — The body releases less hormones that prevent men from getting erections when they’re asleep.
- Dreams — Some believe that dreams play a role in getting a morning erection.
- Bladder — A full bladder can press against the sacral nerve which stimulates the penis.
However, Cleveland Clinic explains that no matter the theory, it’s still connected to the parasympathetic system.
How Often Should You Get Morning Wood?
It all depends on your testosterone level. The body produces less testosterone as it grows older. And as such, it’s normal for instances of morning wood to go farther in between. A man reaches peak sexual maturity from their teens to late 30s. This is when they get the most morning erections.
In their 40s and 50s, morning erections decline in frequency. However, if a person stops getting morning wood abruptly, it’s possible that there’s an underlying health issue involved.
So yes, not getting a morning wood could mean you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED).
But we should point out that ED isn’t the only explanation for not getting an erection, or morning boner, after waking up. Other possible reasons include:
- Weight issues (overweight)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
Even the medication you’re taking could have an effect on your sexual health. That’s why it’s important to consult a men’s sexual health doctor if you’re unsure what’s causing you to get fewer or no morning erections.
Physiological vs Psychological Erection Problems
The lack of morning erections can let a doctor know if an ED case is physical or psychological in nature.
If you’re experiencing signs of erectile dysfunction but have no problem getting a morning erection, then the likely cause is psychological. It can be triggered by pressure at work, sexual anxiety, or incompatibility with your partner.
But if you’re used to erections in the morning (commonly called a morning boner) and stop getting them all of a sudden, it could point to a physical problem.
If you can’t get a strong erection through sexual stimulation on top of not getting morning erections, you might want to see your doctor. It likely means your penis isn’t getting enough blood flow to achieve and maintain an erection.
Do note that even young men can suffer from ED. In a 2013 study, researchers found that one in four new cases of ED concerns a young man.
Can Morning Wood Be A Symptom of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)?
While morning erections may be a normal daily occurrence, it’s possible that morning wood can be related to erectile dysfunction. If you are having any pain or discomfort, you should go to your doctor immediately. Studies show that the prevalence of ED is between 3% and 76.5%.
It is estimated to affect as many as 30 million American men.
If you don’t have a primary care physician, you can consult a urologist or an endocrinologist.
Practitioners in these fields are capable of diagnosing ED. They will most likely ask a series of questions to help eliminate possible causes. You could be asked if you’re taking any medication, supplements, or illegal substances. They’ll also ask if you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness. You might also be questioned about your drinking or smoking habits among other things.
If deemed necessary, they’ll ask you to undergo a physical exam. Tests can include checking your blood pressure as well as the penis, testicles, and prostate.
A doctor can also order a blood test to determine if your cholesterol, blood sugar, low testosterone, or other factors are playing a role in your loss of erection.
It’s important that you come prepared to answer any and all questions honestly so that the doctor is able to diagnose your condition properly. While it can be awkward for you, medical specialists are used to these cases. They can only help if you’re open to sharing your concerns.
You should also take the time to prepare all of your questions prior to your visit. Oftentimes, patients get overwhelmed with information during a consultation. So they tend to forget to ask their questions and end up walking away without answers.
Possible Treatments for ED
There are many treatments for ED. What treatment suits you will depend on the cause of the issue.
For less serious cases, the treatment could be as simple as regular exercise to reduce body weight and improve blood flow. If your problem is psychological, you might need counseling to address the source of your anxiety, stress, or depression.
A lifestyle change might also give you back your morning erections. Giving up booze and cigarettes could greatly improve your blood circulation. Even eating the right food can help with erection.
It’s also advised for those diagnosed with ED to involve their sexual partners in the discussion. Talk about your needs, what can be done to manage the problem, and what they can expect to happen.
In many cases of ED, men often turn to popular brand name oral medications including:
- Viagra (Sildenafil)
- Cialis, Adcirca (Tadalafil)
- Levitra, Staxyn (Vardenafil)
- Stendra (Avanafil)
Instead, it’s recommended to consult an ED specialist focusing on men’s sexual health and wellbeing for a specialized diagnosis and treatment program, based on the unique understanding that treating sexual dysfunction and hormonal deficiencies require in-depth, individualized assessments and comprehensive treatments for each patient.
Working with the medical professionals at Preferred Men’s Medical Center can help you live a healthier, happier life with fewer sexual problems. Give us a call today to chat through your unique problems.