Penis and Male Sexuality Facts

What Does Having An Erection Mean?

Many men, and women as well, assume that an erection means the man wants sex. If only life were that simple. Of course an erection may mean the man desires sex, but it also may mean nothing of the kind.

Consider that during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the part of sleep in which we dream, males - from one-day-old infants to men ninety and older - usually have erections. This means three to five erections a night, each lasting from a few minutes to an hour.

Does this mean all men want to have sex three to five times a night?

While they're asleep?

We really don't know why these erections occur or what they mean, but studies have been done in which the men were awakened during their dreams and asked what they were dreaming about. Sex isn't one of the main topics.

Consider that males often have erections at times when they will tell you they're not interested in sex. Teenage boys, for example, have erections in class when they're trying to concentrate on the classroom material, when walking down the street not thinking about sex, and on many other occasions.

penile anatomy


This causes embarrassment and frantic efforts to hide the bulge behind books, packages, and jackets. I played football in high school and invariably had an erection when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played before each game. I guarantee that sex was the farthest thing from my mind at the moment.

To make things even more complex, consider that erections can be produced by certain kinds of fear (while other kinds of fear can prevent erections). There have been a few reported cases of men being forced at the point of a knife or gun to have intercourse with one or more women.

This isn't the kind of rape we usually hear about, but the evidence is clear that the male victims did get erect and were able to have intercourse. Erections are not only produced by positive, loving, or lusty feelings.

An erection means only that your penis is hard. Whether or not you want sex has to do with how you feel, how excited you are. Whether or not you should have sex has to do with your appraisal of the situation, what your head tells you.

You may have an erection and you may be wonderfully turned on, but if your head reminds you that the woman in question is your best friend's or boss's wife, or that you have no protection against disease or unwanted pregnancy, you may want to think carefully about what to do.

What Does Not Having An Erection mean?

Just as many people confuse erection with an interest in sex, they also confuse lack of erection with a lack of sexual interest.

Women are especially likely to make this error and to personalize it. If you don't have an erection in a sexual situation, your partner may well assume that you're not turned on to her or that she doesn't know what to do to turn you on. It's possible, of course, that she's right. Maybe you're not aroused by her at the moment or ever, or maybe she's not doing what you'd like.

But most of the time lack of erection in a sexual situation means something else entirely. Let's say you are sexually aroused; you want to have sex.

But your penis doesn't respond. Although this situation is enormously frustrating to men, and often their partners as well, there is always an answer. There is an obstacle preventing your arousal from translating into an erection. In some cases the barrier is obvious and simple.

For example, perhaps you require a certain kind of stimulation to get hard and you're not getting it. Maybe your partner doesn't know that's what you need, maybe she forgot, or maybe she's upset and doesn't want to supply it.

Or maybe because you've had so much sex in the last day or so, your penis is simply too tired to get hard again. But usually the obstacle is something else.

Erection requires a whole constellation of things to be right. Your nervous and vascular systems have to be capable of responding properly, and your emotions have to be capable of aiding or at least not impeding the process. Anything, physical or emotional, that gets in the way of sufficient blood getting and staying in the penis can cause problems.

It used to be thought that any kind of erection problem was almost always due to psychological factors. But we have learned in recent years that this isn't the case. Many erection problems are caused by disease or drugs by themselves or in combination with emotional factors.

Any disease that interferes with blood getting to the penis, with blood being kept in the penis, or with the nervous system's control over blood flow may cause erection problems.

A number of medical conditions are known to affect the nervous system's ability to control blood flow or the ability of blood to get into and stay in the penis. Hormonal imbalances, diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries and back problems, injuries to the pelvis, long-term cigarette smoking, and alcoholism are some of these conditions.

Just because you have hardening of the arteries or any of the other problems mentioned above does not necessarily mean that they are the cause of your erection problems. Such problems may also be caused by anxiety and other emotions. But it is important to determine what's going on.

The penis can also be affected by anything taken into the body - for example drugs you take for depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and many other conditions, as well as for recreation.

Your ability to get and maintain erections can also be influenced by your emotions and the state of your relationship. Anxiety about whether you'll get or maintain an erection is a common obstacle to getting erections. But other feelings also enter in.

Anger, for instance, no matter who it's directed at, can block your ability to get hard. So can the absence of a feeling, the lack of arousal. If you're not turned on, perhaps because you're highly anxious, because your mind is preoccupied with something else, or because you don't like your partner or don't find her attractive, this may be enough to prevent stimulation from translating into erection.

I hope it's clear that not having an erection doesn't necessarily mean you don't want sex. It just means that your penis is less stiff than you'd like.

The male reproductive system
The testicles and other male organs
Functions of the testicles
All About Love Between Men and Women
How to manifest reality
All about semen
Female sexual needs and desires
Premature ejaculation
Women think about penis size and sex
Male sexual response
The significance of your erection
How do you see your penis?
Your penis and your life
Circumcision Index
Sex and your penis
Sexual psychotherapy
Sensate focus