Premature ejaculation

Spontaneous erection in men

For a long time it was believed that with the occurrence of spontaneous arousal, men encounter only in adolescence, and if this happens after overcoming the puberty period, this is a deviation from the norm. In the course of recent scientific and medical research in the field of male physiology, it was established that a phenomenon that was previously perceived as a pathology is an absolute norm and even a necessity for maintaining men’s health and maintaining potency.

What is spontaneous erection?

The mechanism of the occurrence of an erection is associated with an increase in blood flow to the penis and the filling of empty veins with it located in the cavernous (cavernous) and spongy bodies of erectile tissue. As a result of filling the venous network with blood, the penis grows in volume and becomes hard. The process of the onset of an erection is based on molecular, neurophysiological and hemodynamic aspects, the combination of which ensures the onset of readiness of the external organ of the urogenital system of a man to perform reproductive function.

Conditionality of erectile function by neurogenic mechanisms makes it possible to erect without physical irritation of the nerve endings of the genital organs and even without the participation of consciousness, in connection with which the following types of erection are distinguished:

1.Reflex – is a reaction to the direct effect (touch) on the nerve endings of the erogenous zones (highly innervated areas of the skin or mucous membranes, upon irritation of which sexual excitement occurs).

2.Psychogenic – occurs due to the appearance of mental images with a sexual connotation or upon irritation of the receptors of the peripheral anatomical and physiological system, which bring the nerve centers of the brain into a state of sexual arousal (auditory, visual, tactile or olfactory stimuli).

3.Spontaneous – involuntary erection, the occurrence of which is not associated with any type of irritation of a sexual nature. Uncontrolled filling of the penis with blood has an important physiological significance, which consists in preventing tissue hypoxia due to the lack of influx of new arterial blood.

In most cases, spontaneous erection occurs at night (on average, 5–6 times during a night’s sleep) and is not always associated with the erotic dream context. The occurrence of involuntary erections is a normal occurrence for men of all ages (from the period of intrauterine development to advanced age). In some cases, the rhythm of this process can be traced, in others – there is no cyclical erection. The duration of a spontaneous erect state varies and can reach 40-50 minutes.

What does an erection depend on?

The anatomical prerequisite for erection is the structure of the external genitalia of men. In the process of erection, many structures are involved, the strength of filling of the cavernous bodies with blood depends on their work:

  • muscles – bulbous-spongy and sciatic-cavernous;
  • nerves – branches of the shameful nerve (lying in the pelvic cavity), sympathetic, emerging from the hypogastric plexuses, and parasympathetic, coming from the pelvic nerves;
  • vessels – a deep dorsal artery of the penis with arterioles extending from it (filling the blood of the penis occurs as a result of relaxation of the tone of the arterial walls and the expansion of their lumen, which is caused by nerve impulses).

Maintaining the penis in an erect state to complete a full sexual intercourse is provided by blocking the outflow of blood from the cavernous bodies. An erection in men is formed with the participation of reflex reactions at the level of the brain or spinal cord. The autonomic nervous system regulates the tone of the vessels through which blood flows to the penis, the activity of the muscles involved during erection, and the production of steroid hormones (testosterone and others). Along with this, brain receptors are sensitive to androgens (male sex hormones).

Characteristics of erectile function, such as the growth of the penis in length, width, hardening, refractive period (recovery rate), and the ability to perform sexual intercourse depend on the state of all systems involved in the erection process and on their coordinated work. The main conditions for ensuring the normal physiological mechanism of erection are:

  • good condition of the vessels (sufficient patency, lack of cholesterol deposits and high elasticity of the vascular walls);
  • balanced hormonal background;
  • normal functioning of the cardiovascular system;
  • stable state of the nervous system;
  • the absence of pathologies of the urinary system.


The occurrence of involuntary erections more often occurs in adolescents during puberty, and this category of men is subject to a more frequent rush of blood to the genitals in the daytime. After hormonal adjustment and the beginning of regular sexual activity, representatives of the stronger sex are less likely to encounter this phenomenon during the day, but if this happens, it is considered absolutely normal and indicates the health of the genitourinary system. The lack of an erection at night indicates problems in one of the areas involved in erectile function.

Medical experts cannot provide evidence-based statements regarding the exact causes of spontaneous erection. There are a number of theories that explain the process of involuntary physical arousal, according to which it can occur due to such factors:

Change of phases of sleep. During physiological relaxation, a person plunges into a special state of consciousness in which several stages alternate. The fast phase (paradoxical sleep) is characterized by the activation of many processes in the body (cerebral blood flow, hormone secretion, heart rate), which leads to the filling of the penis with blood. An erection that has arisen in this phase can result in a pollution (involuntary ejaculation) or persist until the phase changes. If awakening occurs in this phase, in the morning the penis may be in an erect state.

Interoceptive (organic) irritation. In all internal organs and tissues, specialized receptors are located, upon exposure to which specific reactions occur that inform about the internal state of the body. This is the most difficult form of sensation that is difficult to interpret. Some andrologists believe that interoceptive stimuli such as an overflowing bladder, seminal vesicles, or rectum cause spontaneous erection.

Hormonal activation. During physiological sleep, the activity of all systems is inhibited, but the production of testosterone continues as usual, and against the background of the deactivation of other physiological processes, a hormonal surge occurs, which can be correlated with an uncontrolled nocturnal erection. A similar mechanism of spontaneous erection is observed in cases of endocrine disruption, due to which uncontrolled production of testosterone can occur.

Spinal injuries. Due to the fact that the nerve reproductive centers are located in the spinal cord, traumatic injuries of the spine, resulting in impaired functioning of the spinal centers, can cause changes in erectile activity. According to medical studies, spontaneous erection develops in 90–95% of cases with complete or partial damage to nerve motor cells located in the lower part of the spinal cord, while the ability to coitus persists in half of patients.

Genital diseases. Various pathologies of the genital organs (inflammation, scarring, infection) can lead to a violation of the innervation of the genitals, which is fraught with a distortion of the signals entering the centers of excitation, and a distortion of the response.

Pathology of the prostate gland. The prostate has a pronounced reflex effect on sexual function (through stimulation of nerve endings). Pathological processes that occur in the prostate gland (proliferation of epithelial cells, cancer, tumors) affect the secretory activity of the organ, which leads to a decrease in the inhibitory ability of the gland with respect to the hormonal activity of the testicles. As a result of these changes, sexual desire increases with a decrease in the ability to satisfy it.

Long abstinence from sex. Attempts to correlate an involuntary rush of blood to the genitals with a long absence of sex in a man are explainable, but not confirmed. The instinct of self-preservation is one of the strongest and is manifested both in the desire to survive itself (as a successor to the species), and in the desire for procreation (reproduction of offspring and the transfer of their genes). When abstaining from coitus for some reason, the brain begins to send signals (erotic thoughts) about the need to have sexual intercourse, which trigger the processes of erection.

How to cope with spontaneous erection

The term “spontaneous penile erection” means that this process is not controlled by the mind of a man, and it will not work out in the usual way (for example, as muscle contraction). If this condition occurs during sleep, it may remain invisible and not cause discomfort. Spontaneous arousal in the daytime becomes a problem, causing the representatives of the stronger sex to be embarrassed and causing inconvenience. There are several ways to deal with unwanted arousal:

Using psychological techniques. By controlling your own thoughts and feelings, you can quickly relieve stress and break the chain of physiological reactions. To get rid of the involuntary erection that has happened, you should relax and concentrate on abstract images, an effective way is to present unpleasant, disgusting scenes.

Having regular sex. This method will help prevent the onset of spontaneous penile erection. Regular sexual intercourse contributes to the saturation of the erectile tissue of the penis with oxygen and eliminates the overflow of seminal vesicles.

Using medications. In cases of increased excitability or the frequent occurrence of involuntary arousal, external preparations are used that reduce the sensitivity of the glans penis.

With the help of physical activity. Switching attention to the work of muscles helps to relax the muscle fibers of the penis, so you can get rid of the problem by performing simple physical exercises.

Moderate use of alcohol. Alcoholism is one of the causes of impotence, therefore it is recommended to resort to this method only in extreme cases and not to abuse alcohol (50 g of pure alcohol or 100 g of vodka will help to quickly cope with an unexpected problem).

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