Wet dreams occur when a person ejaculates or has an orgasm in their sleep. They are a common and natural part of growing up and are not a cause for concern.

Wet dreams can happen if a person dreams about sex or for other reasons, such as stimulation from bedsheets. Wet dreams are also called nocturnal emissions or nocturnal orgasms.

While people typically associate wet dreams with adolescent males, they can occur in anyone. Females can also orgasm in their sleep.

In this article, we look at the facts about wet dreams and debunk some of the myths surrounding them.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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Wet dreams are when a person ejaculates while they are sleeping. This may or may not occur with an orgasm. An orgasm is when sexual pleasure builds and then suddenly releases.

In people with a penis, ejaculation is when the penis releases semen or sperm. This may mean a person wakes up with wet clothing or bedding, which is where “wet dreams” get their name.

While people with a vulva do not typically ejaculate, they can also have orgasms in their sleep.

Are wet dreams normal?

Yes, wet dreams are typical and very common. They are not a sign of illness or that a person has done something wrong.

Wet dreams often begin during puberty and can be part of transitioning from child to adult. They are involuntary, which means a person cannot control them. Some adolescents may have wet dreams regularly, while others may not.

There is no set number of wet dreams a person should have. Wet dreams often become less frequent with age, but some adults also experience them.

The causes of wet dreams are not fully understood. They may occur when a person dreams about sex or experiences accidental physical stimulation from bedding or sheets, but it is unclear if or how often this is the case.

Puberty is often when wet dreams begin because the body starts changing in ways that make erections, orgasms, and ejaculation possible.

In people with testicles, the testicles begin making sperm, and a person may start having erections during sleep. Teens may notice they sometimes wake up with erections, sometimes called “morning wood.”

Puberty also often comes with more pronounced sexual urges and attraction to other people. This may also play a role in having more wet dreams, but more research is necessary to understand their causes.

People who experience wet dreams do not need to worry.

They can follow some simple steps to clean up:

  1. Remove any clothing with semen on it and put it into a laundry basket or in a washing machine.
  2. Clean the penis or the surrounding area with warm water and gentle soap. If a person is uncircumcised, this includes the area under the foreskin.
  3. Pat dry with a clean towel and change into fresh clothes, if necessary.

If there is semen on the sheets, a person may also want to change their bedding.

If a person wakes up from a wet dream in the middle of the night, they may not be able to fully clean up right away. Having cleansing wipes on hand may be useful for removing semen from the body or sheets until a person can wash.

It is up to the individual if they want to tell a parent or caregiver about their wet dreams. A trusted adult may be able to help with doing laundry. Alternatively, a person can do this themselves.

There are many myths about wet dreams. These myths may cause confusion or worry. Here are some examples:

Myth #1: Wet dreams reduce a person’s immunity

Some people believe that wet dreams and ejaculating, in general, can harm a person’s immune system. However, there is no evidence that orgasms have any negative effect on physical health. In fact, wet dreams can be a sign of healthy sexual functioning.

Myth #2: Wet dreams reduce sperm count

Another myth is that wet dreams reduce a person’s sperm count. This is not true. The body simply makes new sperm after a person ejaculates. Neither wet dreams nor masturbation have any long-term effect on fertility.

Myth #3: Wet dreams are a sign of sexual frustration

Having wet dreams is not a sign that a person is not having enough sex or that they are unhappy with their sex life.

Myth #4: Wet dreams are 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.

Myth #4: Masturbation can prevent wet dreams

While some people find frequent masturbation reduces the number of wet dreams they experience, it does not guarantee a person will never experience them.

Myth #5: Wet dreams will shrink your penis

Some people believe that wet dreams reduce the size of the person’s penis. There is no scientific evidence to support this idea. No medical condition or natural occurrence can cause the penis to shrink.

Here are some facts about wet dreams that are not widely known:

Wet dreams can happen in adulthood

While wet dreams are common during puberty, they can also occur during adulthood.

Not everyone with a penis has wet dreams

Not everyone with a penis will have wet dreams. Some may never experience one. This is not necessarily a sign anything is wrong. If a person can get an erection and ejaculate when awake, their penis is working as it should.

People cannot always prevent wet dreams, as they are involuntary.

Some people report that certain techniques help them reduce how often wet dreams occur, such as:

  • masturbating before sleep
  • having sex more frequently
  • avoiding sleeping on the stomach

However, these techniques are not proven in scientific research, and they may not work for everyone.

A 2012 study suggests sleeping on the stomach makes it more likely the person will experience a sexual dream. However, this does not prove that not sleeping on the stomach will reliably reduce wet dreams.

While prevention is not always possible, there are strategies people use to reduce the amount of clean-up required after a wet dream, such as wearing underwear to sleep or under their pajamas.

Some people may find wet dreams embarrassing or inconvenient, but it is important to remember they are typical and not something a person needs to feel ashamed of.

Below are some answers to some common questions about wet dreams.

At what age do wet dreams begin?

Wet dreams can begin anytime after puberty starts, which is usually some time between the ages of 8 and 14 years old.

However, puberty happens in stages. Some people may experience other signs of puberty, such as oily skin or mood swings, before they have a wet dream. Some may not have wet dreams at all.

Is it normal to have wet dreams every day?

Adolescents may go through phases of having very frequent wet dreams. For some, they may occur daily. The frequency usually decreases as a person becomes an adult. People can speak with a doctor if they have any concerns.

Do wet dreams leave a smell?

If a person does not clean up any semen left on clothes or the skin after ejaculating, then yes, it could begin to smell. Washing with soap and water and changing bedding or clothes can prevent this.

Why did I get a wet dream after such a long time?

Wet dreams can happen at any time past puberty, including in adults. A person might have a wet dream after a long break because they had a dream that was sexually arousing. Sometimes, they might not remember their dream or know what caused it.

Wet dreams are not cause for concern, whether they are regular or happen after a long absence.

Wet dreams occur when a person orgasms, ejaculates, or both during sleep. They can start to happen anytime after puberty begins. For some, they are frequent, while for others, they are rare or do not happen at all. The number of wet dreams a person has can also change over time.

Wet dreams are a typical part of life. They are not harmful and do not indicate a person has a medical or personal problem.

If wet dreams are making a person embarrassed or uncomfortable or otherwise negatively affecting their life, they may wish to consider speaking with someone they trust or a medical professional.