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Males of all ages get boners. Even babies can get boners. If you are unfamiliar with the term, a boner is an erection, so called because the penis becomes hard, like a bone. Not all boys and men, however, can ejaculate. Why is that?

Erections are primarily about pleasure.

  • Just touching the penis stimulates pleasure at almost any age. Even innocently brushing the penis can trigger an erection. There is a specific nerve connection in the lower back (the sacral circuit) that is programmed to start an erection when the penis is touched.
  • Specific kinds of thoughts, especially visual thoughts, cause erections at all stages of life. Before you have reached puberty, you are less likely to have had experiences that "turn you on" so you have an erection. However, there is a reward chemical in the brain, dopamine, that interacts with a specific region in the brain, the medial preoptic area (MPOA) and paraventricular nucleus (PVN) in the hypothalamus, to cause an erection. Seeing something sexy, in men, activates the medial preoptic area so that an erection is more likely to occur. Remembering something sexy you saw has the same effect.
  • There are times you will be in "the zone" for an erection. Your erections are powered by your parasympathetic nervous system. These are the nerves that power your "natural" functions. They are the nerves that make you want to pee as soon as you get home close to your bathroom, or that make you feel like taking a nap when you flop down on the couch. These nerves are "turned on" when you are relaxed, self-confident, and secure. They are turned off when you are rushed, afraid, and unsure of yourself.

Just because you can pitch a tent, however, doesn't mean you are ready to go camping. You can have erections without the ability to have ejaculations. Ejaculations are the way you can father a baby, which is something you can't do before puberty. It's not that ejaculations are all about reproduction. They are also pleasurable. But your body won't be ready for them until you are biologically ready to father a child.

That's because ejaculation is designed to deliver sperm, and your body doesn't make the "white stuff," semen, until your testes are making sperm. You have billions of sperm cells in your testes even when you are born, but they don't grow "swimmers" until you pass puberty. There is a clear, sticky fluid that can come out during ejaculation in guys who haven't gone through puberty yet, but this is not semen.

Most men have an orgasm at the same time as they have an ejaculation, but the two don't have to go together.

It's also possible to have an orgasm with or without ejaculation. Guys who can't "get off" can still have orgasms. Guys who can't "get it up" often can still ejaculate. You can have orgasms in other parts of your body (your butt, your groin, your chest) while you are having sex but before you ejaculate, or even if you don't ejaculate.

And after you are able to have ejaculations, the way you get to them affects the way you feel your orgasms. The longer you spend getting to the point of ejaculation, the longer your orgasm will be (and if you are having sex with a woman or doing the active role in anal sex with a man, so will theirs).

When do guys go through puberty and get the ability to ejaculate? Sometimes puberty happens as early as age nine. Sometimes it is as late as age sixteen. You will usually pass through puberty at about the same age as your father and brothers. If it hasn't happened by age 17, there are things your doctor can do that may help, but until then, you will have to be patient.

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