The medical term for morning erections is nocturnal penile tumescence and there are a number of factors that play a role in the occurrence of this process.
The following are causes known to result in erections being present when men wake up in the morning:
- Active parasympathetic system - this autonomous part of the nervous system controls erections and it works automatically. This is the nervous system that is active while the body is at rest and busy repairing itself. Therefore, erections occur due to the activity of this nervous system while one is asleep.
- Having a full bladder - when the bladder is full of urine, the organ can press against the sacral nerve where the parasympathetic nerves to the penis are located and this can stimulate an erection.
- Normal blood flow - the penis, just like all other organs and tissues in the body, also needs nutrients and oxygen in order for the anatomy to function properly. Having erections while sleeping or in the morning when waking up allows nutrient and oxygen-rich blood to circulate through the penis.
At what Age is it Normal to have Morning Erections?
Morning erections can occur at any age in a man's life. In fact, even male foetuses have erections while they develop in their mother's uterus.
It's therefore completely normal for a pre-pubescent boy to experience morning erections. In other words, a boy doesn't have to go through the stage of puberty yet in order to experience spontaneous erections.
Do Morning Erections indicate any Pathology?
ED can be caused by numerous medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, but especially due to diabetes which causes damage to the inner lining of the blood vessels carrying blood to the genitals. When this occurs, blood flow is compromised and negatively impacts achieving erections.
Other causes of ED include psychological issues such as exposure to increased levels of emotional and physical stressors, anxiety, and mental health conditions such as depression.
When to Worry about Morning Erections
There is really only one instance where morning erections would be problematic and that would be if a man had to experience an erection lasting longer than four hours.
This condition is known as priapism and, although quite rare, can be caused by a variety of conditions. If one would experience such as issue then it is recommended to seek immediate medical attention since the blood in the penis may begin to clot and this can lead to further long-term complications.
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