Thursday, 20 November 2014

Wet Dreams: An Orgasmic Experience!

Wet dreams happen to both males and females, and often following a sexually arousing dream. Also known medically as 'nocturnal emission', a wet dream is a spontaneous orgasm which occurs during sleep, leading to ejaculation for males and vaginal moistness and orgasm for females. This experience is most common in adolescent or young adulthood, but may happen any time after puberty. While it is possible for the male to wake up during the wet dream or sleep through it, researchers into this bodily function state that a female must awaken during the orgasm and consciously perceive it in order for it to count as a wet dream. Very few studies have been conducted into the quality of the cum ejaculated during a wet dream, but in the largest study (10 male subjects), the researchers found a similar concentration of semen a in samples collected after penile vibratory stimulation (masturbation). However, the percentage of semen which were of normal morphology and mobile was higher in the samples collected following a wet dream. 


An American study in 2007 found that both men and women reported that approximately 8% of their dreams included sexual content, with around 4% for each gender, reaching orgasm as a result. The frequency of wet dreams in males can be highly variable. Some men report that it happens due to sexual inactivity (masturbation and/or intercourse), and while some teenage boys report significant numbers, some report experiencing none at all. In a study of single males who experience wet dreams, it was found that a 15 year old boy would have approximately one every 3 weeks, while a 40 year old would be likely to have one every 5 weeks. For married males, the mean average is one per month for 19 year olds and once every two months for 50 year olds. Wet dreams are more commonly reported in some parts of the world; for example, in Indonesia, it has been reported that 97% off males experience a wet dream by the age of 24 years, which is a higher figure than reported in other areas. Some males stop having wet dreams once they mature out of adolescence, but it is also normal for wet dreams to continue throughout life. The frequency of wet dreams has surprisingly, not been conclusively linked to the frequency of masturbation, despite the report of Alfred Kinsey (The Kinsey Reports of 1948 and 1953) finding that may be some correlation occurrence if wet dreams and low rates of masturbation. Kinsey also found that males experiencing their first orgasm during a wet dream (13% of the males) were on average older than males experiencing their first orgasm from masturbation - typically the age gap being one year.

One factor which has been shown to affect the likelihood of men experiencing a wet dream is the ingestion of testosterone-based medications or drugs. In a study by Finkelstein et al (1998), the number of boys reporting frequent wet dreams increased dramatically when the subjects were administered with higher doses of testosterone - from 17% without treatment to 90% at high dose.

The frequency is just as variable in females. Kinsey found that 40% of women reported a wet dream, which  occurred in some as early as 13 years of age, and had typically begun by 21 years in others, happening several times a year after onset. Research shows that wet dreams tend to be more common in males, but this may be because male cum is more indicative that he has orgasmed, whereas mere arousal of the clitoris and vaginal lubrication does not necessarily mean that the female has experienced an orgasm. 

Both LaBerge (1985) and Garfield (1979) report on the phenomena of wet dreams in relation to the lucid dreaming experience. LaBerge, Greenleaf & Kedzierski (1983) conducted a study in which sought to determine the extent to which subjectively experience sexual activity during REM sleep was reflected in physiological responses, such as penile erections, vaginal lubrication and orgasms. As women report more orgasms during dreaming than men, the study commenced with a female subject ans many physiological processes linked to sexual arousal were monitored - including heart rate, vaginal muscle tone and vaginal pulse amplitude. She was asked to make specific eye movements at the stage in which she became lucid within her dreams, when sexual activity occurred in her dream and the point at which she reached orgasm. Once awake, she reported a lucid dream in which she carried out the agreed tasks. The study found strong correlation between the reported dream activities of the subject and the expected physiological measurements of sexual arousal, with vaginal muscle tone, pulsation and her respiration increasing the most during the 15 seconds of her reported orgasm, although contrary to expectations, her heart rate was only slightly elevated.


There are many cultural myths and explanations for wet dreams. In Ancient Rome, wet dreams were considered to be very normal, whereas in some religious traditions (Christian, Judaism and Islam), the experience of a wet dream is thought to signal impurity, although they are not perceived to be a 'sin' as such. Saint Augustine is said to have claimed that wet dreams do not pollute the consciousness of man, because unlike masturbation, are nor voluntary carnal acts. In European folklore, the wet dream and resultant orgasm was said to be caused by copulation with a succubus, an event which is also linked with sleep paralysis and night terrors. 

It is completely normal for a man to experience an erection during sleep, or upon waking, even if he suffers from penile erectile dysfunction in his waking life. An erection can happen between 3 - 5 times during a period of sleep, and typically occurs during REM sleep. Known as 'nocturnal penile tumescence', sleep erections are used by physicians as a gauge of whether penile erectile dysfunction is psychological or physiological in origin. There is some research to suggest that sleeping with a full bladder may encourage erections during sleep with an explanation that this inhibits the male from accidentally urinating while he is sleeping. There is also strong scientific evidence to suggest that females experience nocturnal clitoral tumescence (an enlarged clitoris caused by blood flow to the genital area) and an engorged vagina, in much the same way.


Wet dreams may be embarrassing, particularly when they happen in adolescence, but other than being annoying (sticky underwear or sheets), they are nothing at all to worry about, and are a normal part of development. There are no clear strategies for preventing wet dreams from happening, although male masturbation before sleep may prevent a build up of semen and limit their frequency, although there is no guarantee. The best thing to do is to accept the experience and gain as much pleasure from your sexual dreams and mental/physical arousal as possible, even if you aren't ready to become sexually active in your waking life. If you have any concerns about wet dreams, then you could speak to a doctor or counsellor about what is happening, but be assured that it is extremely common in both males and females and people with all levels of sexual experience and activity. Wet dreams do not signal sexual deviancy or abnormality - quiet the opposite! Even if your accompanying sexual dream is troubling - perhaps you experience the dream as involving a friend, family member , someone repulsive to you in waking life or a person of a sexual orientation/gender other than your waking preference (I have a number of same-sex dreams which lead to orgasm, despite me being heterosexual, and my female friends report the same thing!), this does not suggest that there is anything at all wrong with you - dreams play out subconscious fantasies, desires and fears which may not be safe to acknowledge in your waking consciousness and act as a resolution of internal conflict. You might experience taboo dream sex, precisely because your subconscious is responding to the taboo act or stimulus as a form of wish fulfilment or rehearsal for how to deal with a dangerous waking situation. I have experienced a sex dream which involved zombies with long claws trying to molest me while I am defenceless in a game of Laser Quest gone wrong - but I know I am not secretly harbouring a desire to be sexually assaulted by a zombie - rather my subconscious mind was preparing me for the worst case scenario, and escaping from the situation felt like I had conquered the zombie predators! I have also dreamed that I have been penetrated by strangers who I cannot see - this may be the dream enactment of a subconscious desire which I would never want to engage in during my waking life, because of the sordidness and danger of the situation. I am sharing these particular dreams with you to highlight that sexual dreams happen to us all, and while they may seem scary or embarrassing, this is because they are like holding a mirror up to our unconscious mind and we may fear or feel disgusted by what we see reflected there, but equally, we should view these experiences as a positive affirmation that our sexuality is part of our identity and goes beyond physical limitations or experiences and exists in our imagination as much as in our waking reality. There is no reason to feel guilty about anything that happens during dreaming - no-one can get hurt and we don't have to deal with the actual consequences of our acts or experiences, thus dreams provide us with a safe playground for the imagination. Many lucid dreamers report using the lucid dream experience to engage in erotic or sexual activity - either in circumstances where it would not be possible in real-life (with a celebrity, idol or supernatural being, or in a weird or magical environment) or because they are undergoing a frustrating 'dry spell' in their waking sex life. Sexual activity is in fact the most popular type of lucid dream reported by frequent lucid dreamers, alongside flying dreams!

1 comment:

  1. I've had wet dreams all my life, never as a teenager, all as an adult. Typically, I've been aware that I'm in a sexual dream (lucid) that is edging closer to orgasm right at the time of climax and often have chosen to not have the orgasm. I much prefer enjoying the pleasure of a woman in my bed, not the dream of one. I'm in my late 60's now and yesterday I awoke in the midst of a massive wet dream, which is often more annoying than pleasurable, because I'm groggy from sleep and it's a fucking mess.

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