What Wet Dreams During Sleep Mean to Sexual Health

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Wet dreams don't only happen to teenage boys. They're actually a common experience, especially during teenage years or times of abstinence.

Learn about wet dreams (nocturnal emissions), what causes them, if women can experience them, and if they relate to sexual desire or need.

What to Know About Wet Dreams

Verywell / Lara Antal

Wet Dream Symptoms

Wet dreams are when men ejaculate (release sperm) and women release fluid from their vaginas while sleeping. They are also known as nocturnal emissions.

They are sometimes considered orgasms associated with dreams. Men may wake with the contraction of orgasm and the wetness of semen on their clothes or bed.

Wet dreams may occur throughout your lives after puberty. But they're more common during your teenage years or during periods of sexual abstinence (not having sex). About 38% of teenage boys experience a wet dream before learning what it is. Higher levels of sex hormones may play a role.

During sleep, the blood flow to your sexual organs might be increased. For men, they may occur with or without an erection. Men can have erections during REM sleep, a common cause of waking with morning wood.

Not all boys or men have wet dreams. They might not notice it if they don't wake up or ejaculate. For similar reasons, women might be unaware if it happens to them.

Causes of Wet Dreams

Wet dreams occur normally without a clear cause. There's some association between an increased frequency of wet dreams and a lack of sexual activity or masturbation with orgasm. Some studies suggest higher testosterone levels are associated with more frequent wet dreams.

The dreams associated with wet dreams don't have to reflect daytime experiences or preferences. The sexual nature of the dream doesn't always reflect an underlying desire and may not be the same as daytime intentions.

It may be interesting to explore whether the dream content is a clue to any inner sexual desires you have. This can help you see what you might find arousing when you're awake.

Recap

Wet dreams occur during sleep. They are normal and shouldn't be seen as bad or wrong. It's also normal not to have them.

Can Women Have Wet Dreams?

The short answer: yes.

Women might not be aware of vaginal wetness that happens during a wet dream while sleeping. But it's believed that women also have wet dreams. However, the term is most often used only for men.

This sexual arousal may not result in an orgasm. It may sometimes cause moisture in undergarments or on bed sheets, like what happens in men. But this is less likely. This increased vaginal wetness is associated with similar sexual-based dreams.

Are Wet Dreams Related to Erotic Dreams?

There's no evidence that wet dreams are related to erotic dreams or any other type of dream.

It's also unclear if they happen because of unmet sexual desires or needs. The fact that they seem to happen more often during periods of abstinence may suggest this. But the association is hard to prove.

How to Stop Wet Dreams

Some people believe there's a few ways to reduce how often wet dreams occur. Some ways are to increase sexual activity or have more frequent masturbation that ends in orgasm and ejaculation.

This may relieve the need for men to ejaculate during sleep. Reducing contact with the genitals might also be helpful. Try sleeping on your side or back instead of your stomach to see if it helps.

In the rare cases that wet dreams are troublesome, a doctor might prescribe a medication such as an antidepressant. These medicines might reduce the frequency of the events, but they might also make it hard to ejaculate when you're awake.

Summary

Wet dreams are when you ejaculate while sleeping, sometimes as a response to sexual dreams. They mostly happen to teenage boys or people going through periods of abstinence.

Wet dreams can be a healthy and normal part of sleep. Aside from the need to clean up clothing or bedding, there's no particular problem.

A Word From Verywell

If you're worried about your sexual function and how it impacts sleep, talk to a board-certified sleep doctor. Depending on the issue, they might consult another specialist, like a urologist or gynecologist.

Reassurance may be all that's needed, but they may want to do more testing. This might give you peace of mind and better rest.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Finkelstein JW, Susman EJ, Chinchilli VM, et al. Effects of estrogen or testosterone on self-reported sexual responses and behaviors in hypogonadal adolescents. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998;83(7):2281-5. doi:10.1210/jcem.83.7.4961

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