In this article, we look at the facts about wet dreams and debunk some of the myths surrounding this normal, healthy occurrence.
What are wet dreams?
A wet dream is known medically as a nocturnal emission and may affect both men and women.
Wet dreams are when a person orgasms involuntarily while they are sleeping because of a dream, which may or may not be erotic.
They are called wet dreams because when a male has this type of dream, he may awaken with wet clothing or bedding. This is because semen, the fluid containing sperm, is released during ejaculation.
However, the same term is also used to refer to when a woman orgasms during sleep.
Wet dreams are not caused by masturbation during sleep; they occur without any manual stimulation.
Research has found that, on average, 8 percent of dreams have some sexual content. In the same study, both men and women reported having an orgasm in about 4 percent of their erotic dreams.
The facts and myths about wet dreams
There are many myths about wet dreams, which can make them confusing or cause anxiety if a person does not know what to expect.
1. Wet dreams do not reduce sperm count
Some people believe that wet dreams will reduce a man's sperm count. However, wet dreams are a way for the testicles to remove older sperm and help with the natural formation of new, healthy sperm in the body.
2. Women can have wet dreams
Many people associate wet dreams with men or, more specifically, adolescent boys, but women can also have wet dreams.
A female wet dream may result in orgasm as well as additional vaginal secretions from arousal.
Men may be more prone to wet dreams because they naturally produce several erections a night.
3. Wet dreams do not reduce a person's immunity
Some people believe that wet dreams can cause a person to have lower immunity to things such as a cold or infection. This is a myth and has no basis in fact.
However, wet dreams can help reduce excess sperm in the testicles, which is a healthy function for a male's reproductive system.
4. Wet dreams only happen during puberty
Wet dreams are more common in puberty due to hormonal changes, but they can also happen during adulthood.
While wet dreams are most common during puberty, they can also happen during adulthood.
Wet dreams tend to occur more often in puberty due to hormonal changes. Hormone levels in adults are much more consistent, making it less likely that they will have a wet dream.
Wet dreams may also be more frequent during adolescence because younger boys may not frequently be masturbating or having sex, so the older sperm is released during sleep instead.
5. Wet dreams are not a sign of illness
It is a myth that wet dreams are a result of an underlying illness or medical condition. In fact, the opposite is true.
Wet dreams are a normal occurrence and may be a sign of healthy sexual functioning.
6. Masturbation probably cannot prevent wet dreams
While masturbation may reduce the number of wet dreams a person experiences, it does not guarantee a person will never experience them.
Evidence linking masturbation and wet dreams is lacking, but a person can experiment to see if it helps in their situation.
Try masturbating before bed for a week or more, followed by the same length of time without masturbating, to see if there is a difference in the frequency of wet dreams.
7. Wet dreams will not shrink a penis
Some people believe that wet dreams reduce the size of the person's penis. However, there is no scientific evidence for this.
There are no illnesses, conditions, or natural occurrences that will cause the male reproductive organ to shrink.
8. Some people never have wet dreams
Wet dreams are a natural occurrence for both men and women. They cannot be controlled or stopped, and a person should not feel ashamed to have them.
How often wet dreams occur varies between individuals. People may have:
- no wet dreams ever
- only a few, sporadic wet dreams during adolescence
- several, frequent wet dreams throughout adolescence but none in adulthood
- regular or sporadic wet dreams throughout their life
9. Wet dreams are not always erotic dreams
Wet dreams are often associated with sexual or erotic dreams. However, this is not always the case.
A person can have a wet dream without dreaming about sexual activity and may become aroused due to stimulation from friction with the bedding or other factors.
10. Sleeping on the stomach may induce a wet dream
One study suggests that sleeping on the stomach makes it more likely the person will experience a sexual dream.
The evidence is limited, however, and more studies need to be done to determine if sleep position plays any role in whether a person experiences wet dreams.
Prevention and coping
Having sex more frequently may help to reduce wet dreams, but this is not proven.
While there is no proven way to prevent wet dreams, there are some techniques that may reduce them. However, these methods do not guarantee any results.
If wet dreams make a person embarrassed or uncomfortable, or they are negatively affecting their life, the following methods to reduce or eliminate wet dreams might help:
- masturbating or having sex more frequently
- meditating or practicing relaxation techniques before bed
- speaking to a psychologist or counselor about dreams
A person experiencing wet dreams needs to know that it is a perfectly natural occurrence and that climaxing during sleep is an involuntary reaction that cannot be prevented.
Having wet dreams is not a sign that a person is not having enough sex or that they are unhappy with their sexual partner.
A person experiencing regular wet dreams in adulthood should be open and comfortable speaking with their partner about their experiences. This can reduce anxiety and any embarrassment a person may feel.
A person embarrassed by their wet dreams may wish to speak to a counselor.
Not everyone will experience a wet dream, but for people who do, it is important to remember they are a normal, healthy part of life.
Wet dreams are often associated with teenage males, but they occur in both men and women and may continue after puberty.