Many men ask themselves why they usually wake up having an erection. If this happens to you, do not worry. Besides being perfectly normal, the nocturnal or involuntary erection, those that happen without any sexual or erotic stimulation, indicate that your penis is healthy.
They are important because they oxygenate penile tissues and thus prevent the appearance of fibrosis in the corpora cavernosa, which can be caused by low blood circulation. The more blood that circulates in your penis, the more oxygenated it gets and the greater are the chances that you will have good erections in the future, they also reduce the chances of acquiring problems such as Peyronie’s Disease or erectile dysfunction.
You may not notice every time they occur, as they usually happen during sleep. While your body is resting, your penis wakes up on an average of 4 to 5 times during the night.The last of them happens just before you wake up, when the level of testosterone reaches its peak in your body.
If, on the other hand, you think it happens because of the urge to urinate, that is also correct. After a long time without going to the toilet, the bladder stars to press the so called nervi erigentes, responsible for the transmission of the nerve impulses that command the erection.
That's why you should not be embarrassed about it, in case you're sleeping next to someone and feel the need to hide it away.
If you notice that these erections do not happen to you, seek an urologist to talk and to evaluate. This may be a sign of some issue, which will be detailed in the next topics of this post.
How does erection happen?
To begin with, it is important to understand how erection happens.
It has to do with the amount of blood circulating inside the penis. The brain, nerves, heart, blood vessels, and hormones work together in this process. When the blood reaches the penis, it gets clogged within the corpora cavernosa. When they are filled with blood, the chambers expand, causing the penis to become rigid and increase in size and diameter.
If there is no penile stimulation, however, the erection does not last long. But if the penis remains erect for more than three hours without any kind of stimulation, be careful, it may be an indication of priapism.
What to do if involuntary erections do not happen?
We have started by talking about the importance of involuntary erections and their role in preventing penile problems such as erectile dysfunction or Peyronie's disease. But take it easy, if they are not happening, it does not mean that you are already suffering from some of these diseases.
The first step is to make an appointment to an urologist to check if the cause could be a mild hormonal imbalance or if it can be linked to a more serious problem, then you should seek appropriate treatment.
First of all it is important to know that some conditions, apparently unrelated to erectile dysfunction, can stimulate the appearance of penile fibrosis and inhibit blood circulation within the penis.This can make erection difficult, especially the involuntary ones.
For example, patients suffering from diabetes may have problems with nerves or blood vessels that control the flow of blood. Moreover, those who have cardiovascular disease such as hardening of the arteries may have such a slow blood circulation that it cannot reach the necessary stiffness to the get an erection. Other factors that can change blood circulation in the penis are prostate cancer, hormonal problems, smoking, alcoholism, the use of illicit drugs, among others.
If you have any of these conditions or keep habits that are harmful to your health, pay close attention to involuntary erections. Their absence may be the first sign that you need to take care of the function of your penis so you don't have future complications.
Treatments can vary from medications in order to stimulate blood circulation in the penis to hormone replacement and may require surgical procedures for the placement of penile prosthesis.
Do not wait until the situation worsen to get help. Be aware that nocturnal and involuntary erections are a sign of good health of your penis. If they do not occur for some time, that's enough reason to seek medical help.
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Dr. Paulo Egydio
MD, PhD, Dedicado no Tratamento da Doença de Peyronie, Pênis Curvo e Implante de Próteses Penianas. Doutor em Urologia pela USP, CRM 67482, RQE 19514. - Vencedor do Debate do Sobrevivente da AUA em 2019.