5 Things everyone needs to know about morning wood
It's one of those mysteries in life that you just accept: morning wood. Every male has to deal with it at some point, and there's more than one occasion where it can be horribly embarrassing (get out of my room, mom!!). While this strange, and sometimes annoying occurrence is often referred to as "Morning Wood", it's official name is nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT).
While many boys claim "it's a pee-boner", citing the old tale that they have a boner because they need to pee, it turns out they're completely wrong. Joseph Alukal, MD, assistant professor of Urology and Obstetrics and Gynecology at NYU Langone Medical Center, explains, "it's not directly related to that." But while researchers can tell us what doesn't cause morning wood, they're still trying to figure out what actually does cause it. "The penis is a very strange organ in terms of its job and the way it traps blood inside it," says Alukal.
So what are the theories about why guys wake up hard? Well, you can find five of the best below:
1. The penis goes rogue while we sleep
During REM sleep, certain parts of the brain shut down and the penis decides that it is time to run free. Basically, the penis is a naughty schoolboy, and the moment the brain stops keeping it in check, it does whatever it wants. And what a penis wants to do is get hard.
2. It's down to fluctuating hormones
According to Dr. Alukal, "in the morning, it's going to be the highest testosterone level he'll have all day", meaning that men are at their manliest in the morning. The link between testosterone levels and morning wood would explain why morning boners tend to stop when men get into their 40s and 50s and their testosterone levels dip.
3. It's just the penis working out
While there is no data to back this up, it's pretty funny to imagine a penis exercising. Dr. Alukal says that "There's no other place in your body that has to trap blood for an extended period of time. For example, if we took a tourniquet and tied it around your foot for a half hour, we might have some problems afterward. But your penis is expected to trap blood for a half hour or an hour and be fine afterward. This could be part of the programming that reminds the penis, 'This is how you do your job.'" Basically, morning wood is like weight training, and if the penis didn't do it, men might not be able to keep their boners for more than a few minutes at a time.
4. It rubbed up on something
Despite being fast asleep, the brain is still receptive to physical stimulation, so if a man is sleeping up close next to his partner, this can more than likely set off a boner. "Your brain can still feel the stimulation and say, 'Hey, wait a second, this guy needs an erection,'" says Dr. Alukal.
5. He doesn't need a wee
The notion that guys get a boner in their sleep because they need a wee is a load of rubbish. The body has plenty of systems in place in order to stop bedwetting, so making your penis go hard is unlikely to be one of them. Women also experience from nocturnal clitoral tumescence, making this theory of a boner acting like a dam highly unlikely.
They say you learn something new every day, and today is clearly no different. Now we know that the "pee-boner" isn't a real thing and that there's a host of reasons why men might get hard during the night. What a time to be alive!