Erections first occur in in the womb and they should continue to occur throughout a man’s life. Babies and young boys will experience erections spontaneously as part of their normal bodily functions and not just as a result of sexual stimulation. As boys progress into puberty they will begin to experience erections in response to sexual stimulation caused by sights, sounds, smells, fantasies and touching. Teenage boys and men will also have ‘spontaneous erections’ not caused by sexual arousal. Erections also occur at night (nocturnal erections) during a part of the sleep cycle called Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. These erections may lead to ejaculation resulting in so called ‘wet dreams’. This is one of the body’s ways of relieving sexual tension and exercising the erection mechanism. Most men also have an erection when they wake up (a morning glory). Failure to have nocturnal and/or morning erections could be a sign that there is a problem.
Adapted from: The SASHA Guide to Erections and Erection Problems. Smart D. © Ronin-Do (Pty) Ltd 2004 and Know your manhood. Lissoos I. KYB Pocket Books 1984
Used with permission from the publishers