Wet Dreams 101: Everything About Wet Dreams Summarized

Known as nocturnal emission, questions about wet dreams answered

By Sylvia Epie
Wet Dreams 101: Everything About Wet Dreams Summarized

What is a Wet Dream?

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In simple terms, a wet dream is when you get aroused and ejaculate, orgasm or secrete vaginal fluids during your sleep. Wet dreams are formally called ‘’nocturnal emissions’’ and people tend to think it only happens to teenage boys but that’s not true, the reality is actually deeper than that. Scientifically, nocturnal emissions are associated with sexual arousal and subsequent orgasm in our sleep. According to clinical psychologist Dr.Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., wet dreams occur throughout our lives but peak at puberty or during periods of higher hormones and long sexual abstinence.

Teenage boys are known to have the highest amount of wet dreams due to the high level of hormones they have during puberty. It is estimated that 38% of teenage boys experience wet dreams during REM sleep. That’s why it is common for men to wake up in the morning with an erection. Studies reveal that most boys experience their first orgasm through nocturnal emissions followed by masturbation and then sex. However, science says the older you get the less frequent wet dreams become, due to the fact that your hormones are no longer out of control. “Wet dreams,” “sleep orgasm,” and “nocturnal emission” all refer to one and the same thing.

Q1: Do Girls Get Wet Dream?

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Though women may not wake up with a wet discharge like men, they too have wet dreams. It could be just a mild vaginal discharge or lubrication but it is the same phenomenon. Both boys and girls experience arousal and orgasm in their sleep, research shows that most women have their first sleep orgasm before they turn 21. In a  recent study, both men and women admitted that approximately 8% of their dreams contain some form of sexual-related activity. And 4% of sex dreams among both men and women result in orgasms. Though for women it may not be as frequent as their counterparts of the opposite sex it still is a reality. 

For women, the arousal may not even lead to an orgasm but it will lubricate the vagina or cause a little bit of moisture on your undergarments and scientifically it is considered as being the same thing as a wet dream. A  1986 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, reveals that 37% of college-aged women reported haven experienced at least one orgasm in their sleep. This just shows us that female wet dreams are not a novelty even though people don’t talk about it. 

Unlike men, a woman might not even know she had a wet dream when she wakes up in the morning, this is because sometimes there are no external signs and at other times the presence of vaginal fluid for a woman doesn’t necessarily mean you had a wet dream. Dr. Manly says women tend to have wet dreams as a result of an erotic dream and if she is sufficiently aroused during her dream, it can result in an orgasm too. 

Q2: What causes Wet Dream?    

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Normally wet dreams do not have a specific cause, as humans, we are simply biologically wired that way. However, associations have been made between an increased frequency of wet dreams and a lack of sexual activity or masturbation. Higher levels of testosterone have also been linked with frequent wet dreams, that’s why a teenager going through puberty has a higher occurrence of wet dreams than an adult whose hormone levels have decreased. 

Thoughts of a sexual nature during sleep are not the only cause of wet dreams, it can occur as the result of excess pressure that causes blood accumulation in the genitals. Another contributing factor could be the pressure or sensation of your bedding against your genitals, your mind and body can find the sensation arousing even if you’re not aware.

Testosterone drugs are another factor that can increase the frequency of wet dreams in males, for instance, if someone is taking testosterone-based drugs, it can drastically increase nocturnal emissions by up to  90% if the doses are high. 

Q3. What should I do if I have a wet dream?    

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Wet dreams are a healthy and normal part of sleep and life, their occurrence does not cause any particular problem. They can even serve as a window into your subconscious and a chance to explore your fantasies, sexuality, and inner desires. But if for some reason you’re not comfortable with your wet dreams or you happen to have them too frequently, you can opt to see a therapist or a counselor to help you explore what’s on your mind and why. It is believed that the frequency of wet dreams can be reduced by increasing sexual activity, it could be through masturbation or sex. 

Frequent orgasms and ejaculation for men can help reduce the number of wet dreams a person has, it can also be helpful to sleep on your back or side instead of your stomach to reduce friction on your genitals as you sleep.  Meditation and other forms of relaxation before bed can be of great help if you want to reduce the frequency of wet dreams. Such activities will empty your mind and send you into a deep sleep that wouldn't be disrupted even by an erotic dream.

In extreme cases where frequent wet dreams disrupt your sleep, certain medications could be used to reduce their frequency. Antidepressants, for example, can send you into a deep sleep and a relaxed state that will halt all your dreams. But realistically there’s no guarantee that your brain won’t just do what it wants when you sleep, there are no promises as to whether you can stop wet dreams or not. Enough research has not been done yet on the matter for it to be crystal cear.

There are lots of tales out there saying nocturnal emissions, can cause low sperm count and subsequently lead to impotence. But this is not true at all, on the contrary, wet dreams can help you get rid of the old sperm in your testicles and give way for a new one to be formed.  And unlike masturbation, no religion condemns wet dreams as a sin because it is not a voluntary act.

Q4: What if I never get a wet dream?   

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Not having wet dreams does not mean there's something wrong with you. As earlier mentioned they are a natural part of our sleep cycle and can’t be switched on or off. Wet dreams are like orgasms, they come when they come and sometimes they don’t, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. So not everyone will have wet dreams some people may have a few, while others may have a lot. Some have it as teenagers but not as adults and at times you have them but can’t remember when you wake up. Dr. Manly says “There is no reason to be concerned about the lack of wet dreams or its presence even if they are quite frequent—as long as the wet dreams feel healthy and natural to the dreamer.” 

Whether you get to experience wet dreams or not is personal and varies from case to case, but you must fall under one of the following scenarios:

  • 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

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If you are worried about having wet dreams and feel it’s a problem, it is recommended you talk to someone. Generally, wet dreams are not a cause for concern if anything it confirms that all your sexual functions are on point. And should the need arise to inquire about them, you can always consult a doctor, a therapist or a gynecologist for further testing and reassurance.

The important thing to remember is that wet dreams are completely normal, not everyone will have them, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with you if you have a wet dream. Just know that sleep orgasms, like any other orgasm, is an expression of your sexuality. And contrary to popular belief it is not only reserved for teen males, it occurs to both male and female and can continue even after puberty.