When the morning erection fails!

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The morning erection: the most important things in brief

➜ The morning bar is completely normal and shows up in men of all ages: from infants to the elderly

➜ The erection in the morning occurs during the REM sleep phase and is not the result of sexual arousal

➜ If the morning wood suddenly fails, this can indicate erectile dysfunction

What is a morning latte?

Most men start their day with an erection – the so-called morning latte (“morning wood”). This shows right when you wake up and only disappears after a few minutes, after half an hour at the latest, again. The morning erection is not the result of sexual arousal or mechanical stimuli; the The reason lies in sleep myself. Accordingly, the morning bar can occur in men of all ages – from babies to the elderly. A morning wood does not necessarily take place in the morning: This type of erection can also occur during the day after a nap.

Why do men have a morning wood?

The morning wood occurs because the man’s penis fills with blood. Why this happens almost every day during the waking phase has not yet been scientifically clarified. What is certain, however, is that the morning erection is a completely natural process in the body of every man represents. Babies and small children, but also seniors, regularly show a stiffening of the penis in the morning. Even men who otherwise suffer from erectile dysfunction can experience an erection in the morning.

How does the morning erection develop?

The exact reasons for the morning erection in men have not yet been fully clarified scientifically. The morning wood is probably the result of various processes in the body during sleep. Particular attention is paid to the following processes:

➀ Stimuli in REM sleep:

REM is the abbreviation for “Rapid Eye Movement” and describes a sleep phase that is characterized by the rapid movement of the eyes. During the REM sleep phase, eye movement, pulse and breathing also accelerate. As a result, the body – including the penis – is supplied with more blood and oxygen. In addition, random nerves in the body are activated. As a result of these processes, the penis becomes stiff during the REM phases. Since the proportion of the REM phase increases significantly in the morning hours, the probability of waking up with an erection is also increased. The morning wood represents the last of the nocturnal erections.

➁ Increased testosterone production

The male body produces a particularly large amount of testosterone at night, so that the testosterone level in men is at its peak in the morning. This could have an amplifying effect on the morning wood.

➂ Increased release of special messenger substances

Some scientists assume that nitrogen monoxide is increasingly released at night. This messenger substance is responsible for relaxing the muscles – especially in the male sex – and thus ensures better blood circulation and an erection of the penis. However, there are no studies on this theory.

Myth check: why a morning latte is NOT created

The reasons for the morning latte have not yet been fully clarified scientifically. What is certain, however, is that sexual dreams and a full bladder are not the main cause of morning erections – but they can influence them.

➜ Sexual dreams

Erotic dreams are often accompanied by an erection during sleep. However, they are not the cause of the daily morning wood. They occur far too seldom for that: Erotic content only accounts for around 8% of dreams.

➜ A full bladder

The so-called “water bar” occurs when the bladder is full. The reason: the bulging bladder presses against the prostate and the penis is minimally stimulated. The thesis that a full bladder is the reason for the morning bar is therefore obvious. However, the theory could be refuted by various observations. For example, the morning wood also occurs when the bladder has been emptied during the night, or – vice versa – the morning erection also disappears if you suppress the urge to urinate.

When the morning latte doesn’t come

If you’re not greeted by a morning wood, that’s no reason to worry. Because the morning erection only occurs when waking up coincides with the REM sleep phase. If you wake up during a different sleep phase, you don’t have a morning latte either. This can be the case if you are awakened by external stimuli (e.g. the alarm clock) or only wake up very slowly, so that the erection has already subsided when your perception sets in².

You have to worry firstif you despite unchanged sleeping habits and about one have no morning erection for a long period of time or your morning wood is less hard than usual. Because the permanent absence of the morning erection can be a symptom of the beginning of erectile dysfunction.

The morning latte is not just one Indication of a functioning potency, but for the entire hormonal and sexual health of the man. Consequently, the frequency of the morning wood is used both in medical causal research and in clinical studies as an indicator of the state of health³.

Causes of a missing morning erection

The reasons for a missing morning erection can be varied and of varying severity. They range from a simple change in the sleep cycle to psychological causes to serious physical illnesses.

✔ Altered sleep cycle

The human sleep rhythm is very susceptible to changes. Even small changes, such as from winter to summer time, can ensure that the wake-up phase and REM sleep phase no longer coincide and – as a consequence – no more morning wood occurs. However, that is not a cause for concern.

Even with sleep disorders, a morning wood occurs less frequently⁴. The same applies to people who suffer from sleep apnea (pauses in breathing during sleep)⁵.

✔ Stress

When there is acute professional or private stress, more cortisol is released. This stress hormone can limit the ability to have an erection and thus also the development of the morning wood.

✔ Erectile dysfunction

In the case of a physically conditioned erectile dysfunction, the morning wood is usually missing. However, if the erectile dysfunction is based on purely psychological factors, it is not unreasonable that you still wake up with a morning wood.

✔ Testosterone deficiency

Men with low testosterone are less likely to have a morning wood. In this case, however, the frequency of morning wood can be increased by testosterone replacement therapy⁶.

✔ Diseases and medication

Illnesses that negatively affect the frequency of a morning latte are, for example, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases or depression. Being overweight and taking certain medications such as antidepressants or painkillers also affect the morning erection.

Missing morning latte: This is what you can expect from the doctor

If the morning bar suddenly fails or does not occur at all for a longer period of time, you should not be afraid to consult a doctor. This is especially true if you notice other signs of erectile dysfunction.

If missing a morning latte is your only problem, you will probably get one sleep-laboratory transferred. There it can be determined whether you can get erections during sleep or not. This is the first indication of the existence of a physical erectile dysfunction. In addition, your sleep cycle and possible symptoms during sleep – such as breathing pauses – can be identified in the sleep laboratory.

Do you get no erections at night or show in addition to the lack of morning wood Symptoms of sexual dysfunctionthe doctor will examine you for erectile dysfunction and treat you accordingly based on the results.

If you don’t get an erection in the morning: You can do that yourself

In order to get back to the daily morning wood, medical help is not absolutely necessary. Even simple lifestyle changes can help you get a great erection again in the morning.

✔ Sleep hygiene:

  • Get enough sleep
  • Try to go to bed and wake up regularly
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, heavy food, and exercise in the evening
  • Avoid long afternoon naps
  • Avoid activities in bed (exception: sexual activities)
  • Create a comfortable sleeping environment (dimmed light, fresh air)

✔ Stress Management:

  • Take time for yourself and your hobbies
  • Do relaxation exercises (e.g. dream trips)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice time management
  • Exchange ideas with your fellow human beings

Erectile dysfunction despite morning wood

An erectile dysfunction does not necessarily mean that the morning wood fails. On the contrary: If the erectile dysfunction is purely psychological, it is even normal if you continue to have a morning wood. In the past, a psychogenic erectile dysfunction was diagnosed directly in this case – but that is no longer tenable these days⁷.

Nevertheless: If there is a normal morning erection with a diagnosed erectile dysfunction, the treatment is usually approached psychologically, eg in the form of sex therapy. But drug treatment can also help here: Sexual enhancers such as sildenafil and tadalafil not only help to regain the morning wood, but also to increase “self-confidence as a man”⁸.

The Morning Wood – Frequently Asked Questions

Every man knows them, but not everyone understands them: the morning wood. Here are a few frequently asked questions about morning erections.

The explanations and lists of possible treatment options are purely informative and do not replace consultation with your doctor or the explanations about the intake, mode of action and side effects from the product-specific leaflet.

Isabel D White

Isabel D White

Isabel led the Royal Marsden Hospital (London) psychosexual therapy service until 2019. She works in partnership with individuals & couples to explore physical, emotional & relationship factors that contribute to sexual difficulties after cancer. These include: low desire, erection, arousal or orgasmic difficulties, sexual pain & sexual avoidance. She adopts an integrative approach to personalized therapy using psychosexual therapy (sensate focus framework), biomedical management (erectile dysfunction medication & devices, menopause & vaginal health strategies, sexual aids) & psychoeducation.

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