Think You Know What An Erection Means? / by Dr. Natalia P Zhikhareva


I know, I know, you are eager to shout – erection mean sex!  After all, in our society we are programmed to equate erection with sex.  And yes, an erection may mean the man desires sex.  It may also mean other things!

First, lets take a look at erection.  An erection begins in the brain.  Physical or mental stimulation cause nerves in the brain to send chemical messages to nerves in the penis.  These messages tell the penile blood vessels to relax so that blood can flow freely into the penis.  Once it reaches the penis, high pressure traps the blood – and voila – an erection happens! 

Now, everyone knows about ‘morning glories!’  Many men and women, assume that a ‘morning glory’ means the man wants sex.  Sometimes, that is just the case.  Other times, it is simply a by-product of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT).

NPT is a spontaneous erection of penis that occurs during sleep or while waking up.  It actually starts when the baby is in the womb - seriously - and continuous throughout the life!  Men often experience NPT during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – part of the sleep in which we dream. 

Consider this – during a night of sleep, one usually experiences about four or five periods of REM sleep!  That’s about four or five erections a night, each lasting from a few minutes to an hour!

Does this leads to deduce that men want to have sex four to five times a night?  While they’re asleep?  Most likely not.  When researchers studied men dreams content during REM phase in combination with erection, sex wasn’t one of the main subjects! 

Similarly, a ‘morning glory’ does not necessary mean a man wants to have sex.  So next time you roll over with that twinkle in your eye – you might consider asking him if he is interested to begin with.

An erection means only that your penis is hard!  Whether or not you want to have sex - has to do with how you feel.  The smell of your boss's perfume may remind you of your wife.  Triggered memory of your wife may lead to a desire.  This mental stimulation will produce an erection.  Does that mean you want to have sex with your boss?  Hopefully, not.

Similarly, a man can get spontaneous erections during particular movie scenes.  At times, they may lead to arousal and a decision to have sex.  Other times, they are just that – spontaneous triggers to visual stimuli telling penis blood vessels to relax!

The next time you encounter an erection – remember – it may not mean the man wants to have sex!  But keep in mind, most often, it just might be!

Ever had an experience where you confused an erection for a man's desire to have sex?  Dare to bare and share?


Zilbergeld, Bernie.  1999.  The New Male Sexuality.  Revised Edition.  Bantam Books, New York.