As any card-carrying man, your pattern of erections has probably been somewhat predicable for most of your virile life. That is, until it isn’t.
What once used to greet you first thing in the morning might now be lying flaccid, sleeping on the job, ready for no action at all. It can be a distressing turn of events, for sure, but is it indicative of a larger problem with your most precious bits?
Yes and no. More formally known as nocturnal penile tumescence, morning wood is indeed predictive of your bigger sexual health picture. Before we get into the ramifications of their absence, a review of why they occur in the first place is warranted.
During your pattern of sleep in any given night, your body enters cycles of REM sleep. Along with the rapid eye movement they’re named for, other movements are carried out in your body as a kind of “system’s check.” The most noticeable of these, of course, occurs in one’s nether region system—the penis.
Since your last REM cycle tends to occur in the early morning hours just before you rise, often your body is caught in the act of inflation, which you experience as morning wood.
Determining exactly why one might not wake up to erections is actually something that has been investigated by science. In the 80s, a simple method was even designed to test this phenomenon—known as the Stamp Test.
Despite its aggressive sounding name, this test merely consisted of taping a piece of paper around a flaccid penis before retiring for the night; if the paper was broken in the morning, you could literally rest assured that some kind of wood happened at some point the night before, and all systems were a go.
So…assuming you perform your own Stamp Test at home and wake up to an intact paper ring, what then?
When to seek medical insight for Erectile Dysfunction ?
Unfortunately, it could be a sign of something more serious—the beginning of erectile dysfunction syndrome, more commonly known as impotence. Some men will probably not be shocked at this. A flaccid morning penis is probably not the only time they are experiencing a lack of erection, after all.
Diagnosing and treating erectile dysfunction (ED) generally starts by focusing on the issue of blood flow. Since many systems in the body contribute to a healthy flow, investigations into your cardiovascular and hormonal (among others) would become necessary. ED can also be a psychological issue—in this case, you might experience flaccidity at certain times, but would likely pass the Stamp Test.
If you’re not quite ready for medical intervention, there are a few things you can try at home to up your wood quotient. The biggest of these—improving both the amount you sleep, as well as your sleep quality.
Problems with sleep can range from poor sleep habits (too much screen time before bed, not maintaining a consistent pattern of when you go to bed and rise, to name a few), stress and mismanaged mental health, and the lack of a restful sleep environment. Improving any one of these factors could go a long way towards lengthening your penis with blood flow.
Another culprit could be hormonal imbalances. Both a lack of testosterone and too much (hyperbolic steroid use, anyone?) can affect erections. If you’re messing with black-market injections—stop that. A lack of morning wood is probably the least of your worries here, to be honest.
And if it truly is a matter of organic decreased testosterone, a diagnosis is easily obtained via blood-work; treatment via patches is likewise pretty straightforward. (With this being said, evidence as to whether this therapy is necessary is questionable—be sure to discuss with your doctor before going on any rogue testosterone-seeking missions.)
Lastly, one final reason you might not be waking to wood every day? You’ve lived too many days. In other words, there is a general expectation that as you age, your opportunities for erections decrease.
This tipping point for a decrease in nighttime erections seems to occur somewhere in your 40s. So, if this describes you, you could simply be experiencing a natural—albeit disappointing—occurrence. No cause for concern here, though. Daytime, and well…more opportunistic chances for erection should carry on unscathed.