What Is a Wet Dream During Sleep and What Does It Mean?

Ejaculation May Occur Normally During Sleep in Men

Man having a wet dream during normal sleep
Man having a wet dream during normal sleep. Simon Watson/Getty Images

In what is a common experience, especially during adolescence or periods of abstinence, wet dreams may occur during our sleep, but what is a wet dream? What does a wet dream mean? Is it bad to have them? How can wet dreams be stopped? Learn about wet dreams (or nocturnal emissions), what causes them, and whether they relate to sexual desire or need.

What Is a Wet Dream During Sleep?

Wet dreams occur during sleep and consist of ejaculation for men or vaginal lubrication for women.

They are also known as nocturnal emissions. They are sometimes interpreted as a spontaneous orgasm with associated dream content. Men may wake with the contraction of orgasm and the wetness of semen emitted onto sleep clothing or bedding.

Wet dreams may occur throughout our lives after puberty, but they are more common during adolescence or during periods of sexual abstinence. For men, they may occur with or without an erection. In general, men have erections during REM sleep, a common cause of waking with morning wood.

What Causes Wet Dreams to Occur?

Wet dreams occur normally without a clearly identified inciting cause. There is some association between an increased frequency of wet dreams and a lack of sexual activity or masturbation. Some studies have shown that higher testosterone levels are associated with more frequent wet dreams.

Wet dreams occur during sleep. They are normal and should not be viewed as "bad" or "wrong." The associated dream content is not necessarily reflective of daytime experiences or preferences.

The sexual nature of the dream does not always reflect an underlying desire and may not correspond to daytime intentions.

Can Women Have Wet Dreams?

Although women may not be aware of the occurrence of vaginal lubrication or wetness associated with a wet dream, it is thought that they also experience this phenomenon.

However, the term is most often used only for men.

Are Wet Dreams Related to Erotic Dreams?

There is no evidence that wet dreams are directly related to erotic dreams or any other type of dreaming. Similarly it is unclear if they can be solely attributed to unmet sexual desire or need. The fact that they seem to increase in frequency during periods of abstinence may suggest this, but this relationship is a difficult one to prove.

Not all boys or men have wet dreams. If not awakened, and without noted ejaculate, they may go unnoticed. They may start in teenagers after the onset of puberty but can persist throughout adulthood.

How to Stop Wet Dreams During Sleep

It is believed that their frequency can be decreased with increased sexual activity or more frequent masturbation with ejaculation. This may relieve the need to ejaculate during sleep.

Source:

Finkelstein, JW et al. "Effects of Estrogen or Testosterone on Self-Reported Sexual Responses and Behaviors in Hypogonal Adolescents." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 83(7):2281.

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