Waking up with an erection is a very good thing for men and a great way to greet the day. Men with an early morning hard-on can be an important indicator of a man’s overall sexual health and vigor. Younger men will commonly and frequently wake up with a morning erection but men of all ages can have them too.
Morning erections, aka “morning wood,” are a natural and normal occurrence indicating a man’s penis is doing exactly what it’s supposed to. But what if your morning wood has been ‘missing in action’ for awhile? What does it mean and what can be done?
When morning erections are not showing up
Morning erections are like a barometer of a man’s health. If the flag is flying high early morning, it’s a great start to the day. Take the wind out of the sails, and then it’s not so good.
To be scientifically correct, the other name for morning erections is nocturnal penile tumescence or NPT. When the sun rises, so does this part of a man’s anatomy even though for most men, their penis has already had a busy night. On average, a man’s penis can become erect and then go flaccid between three and five times a night. Most of those spontaneous erections are unnoticed but it’s the early dawn erection that grabs a man’s attention the most.
Before we talk about what it means if you are not getting morning erections, understand why they happen in the first place. It begins with the sacral nerve which controls a man’s erections and is part of the parasympathetic nervous system.
When sleeping, you go back and forth between sleeping deeply and rapid eye movement or REM sleep. REM sleep is the cycle when dreams occur and is also when the parasympathetic nervous system is more active and when a man is dreaming – like an erotic dream – it may cause you to wake up with an erection. Or another reason might be your bladder is full and is pressing against and stimulating the sacral nerve.
Infrequent morning erections can also be caused by poor blood flow. For a man to achieve an erection, it requires strong blood flow to the penis. If a man’s blood vessels are obstruction free and elastic and he can get and maintain erections, this usually indicates good cardiovascular health. But, lack of morning erections or difficulty in achieving an erection hard enough for sexual intercourse, might be signaling clogged arteries due to heart disease.
However, the primary reason why your morning erections have become less frequent, usually results from a reduction in testosterone levels.
Testosterone’s role in morning erections
Spontaneous erections during the night and early morning are assisted by the male hormone testosterone. When testosterone levels are normal, morning wood should appear like clockwork. In fact, testosterone is the primary hormone helping ignite the sexual fires or libido in men. And it’s at the crack of dawn when testosterone levels are their highest often leading to an erection. Give yourself a high five whenever you wake up with one as morning erections are a good sign everything is working just like it should.
But, if blood levels of testosterone levels have dropped, this can result in a reduction in the number and frequency of morning erections. The primary cause of free falling testosterone levels is usually the fact you are getting older. As you grow older, the level of testosterone in your body gradually decreases. This can lead to a variety of changes such as reduced sex drive. While lower testosterone levels may be concerning, it’s also a natural part of aging. As long as you are healthy and are able to achieve an erection when you want to, not having morning wood a few times is usually not a reason to panic.
Besides infrequency of an erection in the morning, other signs of low testosterone can include the following: loss of muscle mass, difficulty in achieving an erection (erectile dysfunction), enlarged breasts, persistent fatigue, depression, reduced sexual activity, and fat gain especially in the abdominal area.
Men with excess weight gain in the abdominal area (waist circumference greater than 40 inches), should work on losing pounds around their middle. Weight gained in this area is called visceral fat and is factor responsible for the body producing less testosterone.
See your doctor
If you have not had a morning erection for months or are experiencing erectile dysfunction, see a urologist. It might be a sign of a significant problem. Urologists will take a thorough health history along with a physical examination to assess your particular situation.
From there, it will be determined the next steps for uncovering the root of why your morning erections have disappeared. Your hormone levels including testosterone will be checked along with screening for erectile dysfunction, heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.
Depending on what is found will determine the right treatment for the situation. So, pay attention to how often you experience morning wood. And if you stop having them or you experience sudden changes, speak with your doctor.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.