featured, sex, sexual health

The Truth About Nocturnal Emissions

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A wet dream is usually the punch line in many stories of male puberty, but what does it really mean? A nocturnal emission is defined as “an involuntary discharge of semen during sleep often accompanied by an erotic dream.” This definition is slightly incorrect because it immediately dismisses the ability of a female emission. Not all emissions end in orgasms, but sometimes just genital wetness, hence the phrase “wet dream.” It is a very natural occurrence that should not be shamed because it turns out studies show that approximately 83% of men experience a nocturnal emission at some point in their lives.

What we know scientifically about female sexuality is limited, but some resources suggest that “70 percent of women had sexual dreams, and that by age 45 (have had wet dreams)” as well as “37 percent of women had sex dreams that led to an orgasm and women who experienced sleep orgasms reported having their first one before turning 21.” I personally never knew that women could have wet dreams, or never pieced together that moistness around the genitals following sleep could be because of a wet dream.

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According to this article by Sex Info, “there is a difference between nocturnal orgasms and nocturnal emissions because males can have a nocturnal orgasm (a sexual climax) without ejaculating (an emission of seminal fluids). Females can also experience a nocturnal orgasm, although there won’t be an emission.” It can be confusing, but a sexual dream could lead into an orgasm even though there isn’t any emission. If you haven’t experienced anything of the sort there is no cause for alarm; there is no way of preventing one, so your time may come (no pun intended).

This process starts “during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, both males and females experience greater blood flow to their genitals which is typically occurs during arousal. REM sleep is associated with dreaming, so your brain is more active. An active brain requires more oxygen and as a result, blood flow all over the body increases.” This flow tends to rush to the genitals when a sexual dream starts which might result in an erection for men and an engorged clitoris for women. The stimulation may or may not result in orgasm or lubrication of the genital areas.

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In addition, a study by Sex Info found that frequency of nocturnal orgasms is not affected by engaging in sexual activity. However, the study found that sexual satisfaction was a significant predictor of ever having experienced a nocturnal orgasm, meaning that women who experience satisfaction with their sex lives are more likely to report having experienced a nocturnal orgasm. Satisfaction with a sexual partner is subjective, so if you are a woman who does not have nocturnal orgasms that doesn’t mean that your sex life is lacking.

Whether or not you experience nocturnal emissions or orgasms, know that everything is natural and isn’t anything to be anxious about. If you have wetness on your sheets or pajamas after a dream, sexual or not, it isn’t a cause for alarm. You most likely had a wet dream – good for you! If you do have any concerns it is always best to talk to someone you trust. And if something feels very wrong, maybe call your doctor. There is no reason to be shy about your body, so good luck and sweet dreams!

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