Dear Dr G,
I am a 27 year-old man who is sexually active.
My partner and I have intercourse on a regular basis (around two to three times a week).
I consistently rise to the occasion (if you get what I mean) and the interval to ejaculation is often meeting her expectation.
What I am getting at is, I have a normal sex life and reasonable performance in the bedroom.
I am sorry to put you on the spot, but in the last six months, I hardly notice the greetings of the “morning wood” anymore.
Since my teenage years, I wake up seeing the morning erections almost on a daily basis, especially with a full bladder.
Sadly, the erection is not noticeable at all.
I read that morning erection is a sign of good health, and lack of the “morning glory” may imply the arrival of the doom days of erectile dysfunction.
I am only 27 years old and clearly disturbed with the prospect of erectile dysfunction.
Can you please tell me if it is normal to have no morning erections at this age?
Is there a test to carry out to see whether the erections occur in the middle of the nights without me knowing about it?
Lastly, is there anyway I can get the “glory” of my morning back again?
Morning erections, or colloquially known as “morning glory” or “morning wood” is the spontaneous physiological engorgement of the penis during sleep or just at the point of awaking.
In fact, the scientific term of morning erection is Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT), implying such bodily responses predominantly manifest themselves at night, instead of the crack of dawn.
I guess the term “nighttime glory” is just simply unsexy!
NPT usually occurs three to five times a night, typically during REM sleep, each lasting between 25 to 35 minutes.
As the presence of NPT implies the “machinery” of the healthy erections (hormonal, neurological and vascular) is intact.
The presence of the morning wood is often times a barometer to differentiate between psychological and non-psychological erection problems.
The precise evolutionary purpose and mechanism of morning erections are unknown.
NPT is not just a phenomenon associated with sexually matured men, it has also been observed in children and even baby boys in utero.
I guess that just tells you all men started way earlier that we previously thought! In fact, morning erections are also common in the animal kingdom among mammals.
It is postulated the Noradrenaline neurons of the brain, which inhibits the erections during daytime (thank goodness for that), cease to be inhibitory during the relaxation of the REM sleep.
This is thought to allow testosterone-related actions on the genitalia, manifesting as NPT.
Testosterone is the sex hormone that influences a man’s sex drive, bone and muscular strength among many roles.
The levels of testosterone declines with age and so would the manifestation of the morning erections.
Hence, the diminishing of morning erections are only noticeable well into the late 50s in men.
Nearer to the penis, the bladder is also thought to play a role in inducing the glory in the mornings.
As the nerves that control a man’s ability to have reflex erection is located in the sacral nerves of the spinal cord, a full bladder is known to stimulate the nerves and induce the blood perfusion.
The presence of NPT can be detected by using an elastic device around the penis during sleep.
This blood pressure cuff-like detects changes in the girth of the manhood and relays the information to a computer for further analysis.
If NPT is detected, it is generally perceived that a man with ED may be caused by psychosomatic illness such as sexual anxiety.
In fact, many patients are also told to perform the NPT diagnostic tests themselves with something as primitive as wearing a roll of stamps around your penis to bed.
If the perforations were told, it meant the erections probably popped up at night. Of course, the “stamp test” is generally inaccurate if the men scratch their manhood in the sleep!
When Dr G is put on the spot to revive the morning glory, he would recommend to get a roll of stamps and drink plenty of water before bed, to get a full bladder.
Before you know it, the salute of the morning wood, will naturally bring the smile back to your face!
Dr George Lee is a consultant Urologist and Clinical Associate Professor whose professional interest is in men’s health. The column “Ask Dr G” is a forum to help men debunk the myths and taboos on men’s issues that may be too “hard” to mention. You can send him questions at firstname.lastname@example.org