ED Basics

Morning Wood: What And Why?

October 5, 2020

Medically reviewed by

Anthony Puopolo, MD

Morning wood, known formally as nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT), is a common phenomenon for men of all ages , but it can come and go as our bodies change with age and physical health.

Men are often concerned about morning wood for a variety of reasons. Is morning wood normal? What if I don't get morning wood anymore?

This guide is designed to answer your burning questions.

Quick Facts About Morning Wood

A morning erection is common for men of all ages, though it tends to fade with age as testosterone levels decline (around mid-40s).

Experts believe morning wood occurs through some combination of hormones (high testosterone in the morning), physical stimulation (underwear rubbing), and/or a relaxed state.

Like ED, your underlying health plays a role in morning wood. Less frequent morning wood is normal as you age, but if you have sudden loss or associated pain, talk to a doctor.

Why Do Men Get Morning Wood?

Morning wood is quite common for men and boys beginning during childhood and lasting into old age. Its causes aren't perfectly understood, but experts mostly agree on a few likely causes to waking up with an erection. Hormone levels (both long-term and short-term), physical stimulation, and a relaxed state of mind are all contributing factors. In fact, morning wood may be just the tip of the iceberg - many men experience more than one nocturnal erection every night without even knowing it!

Regular morning wood can be a sign of good health too; or more directly, a prolonged lack of morning wood or erection problems can be signs that you may have some underlying health conditions to assess.

What causes morning wood?

Morning wood's root causes aren't perfectly understood and are likely multifactorial; you'll likely never pinpoint a single reason. Here are some of the top assumptions from medical professionals.

Morning wood and hormones

Hormones, namely testosterone, play a big part in men's overall sexual health. You're practically swimming in the stuff during puberty (remember hiding all of those mid-day erections?), and it remains elevated into your mid-30s. But as men age, testosterone levels decline, and by their 70s most men's testosterone will have reached their lowest levels.

A higher testosterone level contributes to waking erections, which means for many men that their regular morning wood and/or their nighttime erection becomes less regular as they age.

Additionally, guys' testosterone levels are highest in the morning, right after you wake up. This increase alone is likely sufficient to cause an erection, which may be why so many men wake up with erections on a regular basis.

Morning wood and stimulation

Also important to morning wood is stimulation to the penis. This isn't necessarily intentional sexual stimulation or sexual arousal, like from an intimate partner - it could be as simple as your underwear or clothing rubbing your penis during sleep, or from rubbing against your blankets during the night. Even during sleep, your body senses this physical stimulation and reacts with a ready and erect penis. Stand to!

Morning wood by relaxation

When you're awake during the day, your body is actually working to suppress erections with certain hormones (after all, you can't be having erections all day every day). But when we're sleeping or in a state of relaxation, our body relaxes too and takes the gas off of these suppressing hormones. Boners are more likely when we're relaxed, and this is the case during sleep too.

What about wakeup sex?

Go for it! Waking up with a spontaneous erection right next to your partner is a great catalyst for some spontaneous intimacy. Your testosterone is high and you're already well-rested - morning sex can be a great way to get some intimacy in before the stresses of day-to-day life takes over.

No morning wood?

Morning wood is a healthy and normal experience. It's a sign of a properly functioning nervous system and blood flow in and around the penis. Many young men report waking up with morning wood almost daily in their youth, but over time that can slow. Less frequent morning wood episodes are to be expected as we age and our testosterone levels begin to fall.

Is less morning wood cause for concern? It could be if it's rapid or dramatic. If you've experienced morning wood every day for years and suddenly it drops off to rarely, it may be time to talk to a doctor. There could be underlying health issues at play that need to be addressed. This could be a sign of erectile dysfunction, but it may also indicate something is happening that's preventing arousal (to the nervous system) or proper blood flow. Likely contributing factors and known causes of ED include: being overweight, depression , high blood lipids, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Smoking, alcoholism , or a night of excessive drinking can also impact your ability to get an erection.

These are also all issues the men tend to develop later in life as they age and as more demanding schedule with family and work contribute to a less healthy lifestyle.

Losing your morning wood can also emerge after beginning a new medication. Certain painkillers, like opioids, are known to contribute to ED, and many anti-depressant medications can contribute.

If you have any questions or concerns, talk to a healthcare provider about your symptoms (Rex MD can help with online visits and affordable medications).

How To Get Morning Wood Back

If you've noticed a sudden drop off in morning wood, or you're experiencing painful erections in the morning, it's time to talk to a doctor about what else might be going on.

If you recognize some things in your current wellness that you think could be contributing, improving your physical fitness and taking care of your mental health are two of the fastest ways to address the underlying causes of ED. Eat right and exercise regularly to combat obesity, get blood pressure and cholesterol under control, and feel healthier. Seek treatment for other chronic underlying conditions, like diabetes, and do what you can to cut back on alcohol or tobacco use if they're an issue for you.

All of these are known risk factors for ED, and possibly the loss of regular morning wood. Good news: ED can be reversible .

Concerned about ED? Doctors at Rex MD can help you assess and order ED meds like Viagra ( sildenafil ) and Cialis ( tadalafil ), if approved. Our free virtual visit process is easy, and our ordering is simple.