Nocturnal Tumescence

Morning Wood,” has always been a source of jokes, but medically, it is very telling if a man has morning erections or not. Loss of morning erections could be a sign of aging or low testosterone, which often accompanies aging but also premature aging.

Whenever a man comes into my office complaining of erectile dysfunction, the first thing I ask is, “Do you get morning erections?”

That’s because loss of morning erections usually indicates a physiological versus a psychological cause. However, loss of morning erections doesn’t prove you have a physiological problem. You could be still experiencing normal nocturnal tumescence. So how do you know if you are having normal periodic erections while you sleep? Well, there is something called the tape test.

During my urological rotation, I remember one urologist instructing a patient to place tape on the shaft of his penis before going to bed. If the tape was broken when he woke up that would indicate he had normal nocturnal tumescence. The tape test also works by using a stamp.

So you see, “Morning Wood” isn’t just some cosmic punch line. It actually means something.

One Comment

  1. Luke
    Posted November 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t give this much thought until after my circumcision 2 years ago… For two weeks, I woke up in pain multiple times at night, due to the nocturnal erections that were straining my stitches. At one point, I resorted to google, to find out what it is, and if there is a way to stop it. I even prayed before going to bed, that I wouldn’t get an erection… Needless to say, I woke up in shock, doubled up in pain, again.

    I guess the good news is, my norepinephrine/testosterone levels seem to be functioning well, according to the video.


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