The lack of a morning erection isn’t necessarily a concern. Sometimes, men wake up at different points in a sleep cycle, when an erection isn’t occurring.
Still, morning erections might provide some clues about penile health and erectile dysfunction (ED).
Typically, men have several erections while they sleep. The process is called nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) (or “morning wood” in slang terminology), and it occurs in males of all ages, even small children. NPT is associated with the activation of certain areas of the brain during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep and is not caused by sexual stimulation.
If a man wakes up during or just following an REM sleep period, he might have a morning erection.
ED can have physical and psychological causes. Sometimes, both physical and psychological factors are involved at the same time.
When a man suspects he has ED, his healthcare provider might ask about morning erections. If he still experiences NPT, chances are his erection problems have a psychological origin, since his physical “plumbing” is still in working order. If he doesn’t have NPT, then physical issues may be the root of the problem.
Morning erections are not the only criteria used to assess ED. Healthcare professionals will also consider a man’s medical history, testosterone levels, and any medications he takes. (Learn more here.)
Men should mention changes in their morning erections to their healthcare provider.
“Why Do Men Get Morning Erections? 5 Answers to Your Questions”
(June 22, 2016)
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“What is nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT)?”
“Nocturnal Penile Tumescence”
Peters, Brandon, MD
“Lack of Morning Wood Erections”
(February 23, 2018)