It's perfectly normal to have an erect penis first thing in the morning. But, what if you start waking up in the morning with no morning wood? Does this mean that you have erectile dysfunction? Before you start stressing and worrying, you must first get a few facts straight about your body.
The Science of Morning Wood
Morning wood, otherwise known as nocturnal penile tumescence or NPT, is the natural erection of the penis during sleep or upon waking up. This is experienced by males of all ages and occurs at an average of three to five times a night. The cause of this phenomenon is not exactly clear but the most plausible guess of experts is due to higher levels of testosterone during sleep and waking up.
Furthermore, it has been found that these erections help prevent you from urinating during your sleep and oxygenate the penile erectile tissues to prevent shrinkage and tissue atrophy.
One thing to know about erections is that they could be caused psychologically or physiologically. It is psychologically caused if an erection was triggered by images and thoughts deemed to be sexually arousing. Otherwise, it is caused physiologically.
Your morning wood is an erection physiologically caused by your body. If you’re worried about whether you have erectile dysfunction and are trying to determine the cause, keep the existence of these triggers in mind and remember that morning wood is physiologically caused.
What Could Be Causing the Lack of Morning Wood?
The lack of erection when you wake up does not automatically indicate that you have a disease. Having no morning wood upon waking up is just a symptom of numerous possible ailments in your body.
Sometimes, the cause is simply age. A study has explored the occurrence of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) among men of varying age from 23 to 73. Based on their visual observations, the frequency and duration of these erections decrease in age regardless of how much sleep they have.
Just to be clear, these erections during their sleep have no observed differences in circumferential growth during erection.
If you’re at least at the age of 30 and experience a decrease on the instances you have and erection in the morning, you might just be having fewer instances of NPT. It is not that you’re not having morning wood anymore. But, rather, you might just have missed that when you've woken up - your morning wood may have had come to pass.
Lack of Quality Sleep
NPT occurs during your rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) phase. If you have any form of sleeping disorder (like terminal insomnia and sleep apnea), you may not be getting adequate levels of sleep which leads to a difficulty in getting into your REMS phase and this might have resulted in the lack of NPT you observed.
Other possible causes of poor sleep quality are heartburn, diabetes, heart failure, musculoskeletal disorders, kidney disease, nocturia, and thyroid disease. If you suspect that you might be having any of these, it is best to have yourself checked immediately by your doctor.
It has been found that among men suffering from depression, the occurrence of nocturnal penile tumescence has been observed to be significantly lower.
This is an expected occurrence as depression caused by either hormonal imbalance, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, and other non-psychiatric diseases decrease one’s level of testosterone. In effect, you would more likely experience a lack of erection during your sleep or upon waking up.
Poor Vascular Health
An erection starts when your brain starts sending signals to the blood vessels found in your penis. Upon receiving the message sent by the brain, the penile arteries relax and open up to let blood flow in. It then closes to cut off the blood from flowing back out. The blood would then fill up spongy tissue of your penis called the corpora cavernosa.
This result in a firmer and bigger penis, which is what we call an erection. If you have vascular disease like atherosclerosis, hypertension, and high cholesterol, your penis might not be getting an adequate amount of blood and/or blood pressure to achieve an erection.
Excessive Masturbation and Pornography
Reports of rising sexual dysfunction including declining occurrence of morning wood (or NPT) have been linked to prevalence of pornography through the Internet. Because of this, a few studies have been conducted to explore this further and one study found out that one’s testosterone levels could be the culprit.
The study found that, although testosterone levels would increase after masturbation, these levels are only on the short term and the levels become much lower than normal once the spike is over. Furthermore, they found out that average testosterone levels are much higher during periods of abstinence from masturbation.
Moreover, viewing pornography is found to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pain and pleasure. This relationship between pornography and dopamine has been the major contributor for delayed ejaculation and erectile dysfunction due to chronic viewing of Internet pornography.
Combine the effects of high dopamine levels with excessive masturbation, which usually succeeds the viewing of pornography, and you’re driving your testosterone levels low.
If you’re under medication of any kind, it could be the cause of your body’s lower levels of testosterone. Here’s a list of various medicine that have detrimental effects on your testosterone levels:
- Statins that are used to manage high cholesterol also lower the cholesterol required by your body to produce testosterone.
- Beta-blockers used to manage hypertension have a diuretic side-effect that causes your body to flush away chemicals including testosterone.
- Opioids that are used for pain relief have a side-effect of lowering your body’s testosterone.
- Anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication affects your hormone levels, including your testosterone.
Low testosterone levels manifest in your body through difficulty in building or maintaining muscle, a decrease in sexual appetite, or having testicles less than an inch and a half in length. The low levels of testosterone affect different areas of your health and body, which would then lead to erectile dysfunction and/or the absence of morning wood.
To make things worse, low testosterone levels could eventually develop to metabolic syndrome, estrogen dominance, and metabolic syndrome, all of which would hamper your capabilities to achieve an erection – both physiological and psychological.
You can easily keep track of your testosterone levels by doing blood tests:
How To Get Your Morning Wood Back
Your problems with your erection, morning wood or otherwise, all boil down to either a hormonal imbalance or a vascular problem. Fortunately, what you have to do to keep your vascular health in top shape is almost the same as what you have to do to keep your hormones in check. And, here’s a list of what exactly you have to do to get your morning wood back:
Lose the Belly Fat
Otherwise known as visceral fat and deep fat, belly fat is found under your skin and wrapped around your major abdominal organs like the kidneys, liver, and pancreas.
One sign that you have belly fat is a large waist and a protruding belly. This is more commonly known to constrict the major organs and arteries which would then lead to higher blood pressure and poor blood circulation. But, aside from this, belly fat accumulation and obesity have been seen to contribute to a dramatic drop to a person’s testosterone levels.
To get rid of this, one must manage their diet to only have the necessary amount of total calories, macronutrient portions, and micronutrient content. Furthermore, get rid of any junk food and focus your diet to only include whole foods and lean protein.
Exercising is a great way to keep the vessels that circulate your blood at its best shape. These vessels are also the same ones that provide blood for your erection.
In fact, exercise has been found to make your vascular system (blood vessels) more efficient in distributing Nitric Oxide and other substances, which make your blood vessels and tissue retain its flexibility. This flexibility is important for your penis’ erectile muscle to expand and keep its size.
Aside from good effects on your heart and blood vessels, particular exercises have been found to increase testosterone 15-30 minutes after the workout. These exercises include full-body resistance training that comprise of compound exercises and high-intensity interval training that consist of at least 30 seconds of intense activity for each interval.
Keep Your Hormones Balanced
Your hormones affect your health beyond your erection and sex drive. By keeping this in check, you could free yourself from the depending on certain medications. Here are some pointers on how to help your body balance its hormones:
- Make healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, butter from grass-fed cows, and wild-salmon the staple of your diet.
- Supplement your nutrition with adaptogen herbs to help bolster your low testosterone levels.
- Stop using common sources of toxic substances (like plastic bottles, lotions, and cosmetics) and switch to non-toxic alternatives.
- Moderate caffeine and alcohol intake.
- Get adequate quality sleep and manage stress to lower cortisol levels.
Remember: It’s Only a Symptom of Underlying Conditions
Having no morning wood when you wake up is only a symptom of what your body is experiencing. Be conscious of your body and listen to it. Do what you have to do to keep it in top shape and you will be rewarded whether it may be in your daily life or your sex life.