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Updated 10 February 2013

What are wet dreams and who gets them?

A boy's first nocturnal emission tends to cause the most confusion and worry. Most parents don't tell their sons what orgasms and ejaculations are before hand.

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Most people stop urinating in their bed before the age of six (hopefully). Then why are many young teenage boys, and even some men, waking up in the middle of the night with wet sheets and underpants? The answer is they are experiencing something called nocturnal emissions, or "wet dreams." Nocturnal emission is the technical term for the experience of having an orgasm and then ejaculation while sleeping.

Is there something wrong with me?
There is a difference between nocturnal orgasms and nocturnal emissions, because males can have a nocturnal orgasm (a sexual climax) without ejaculating (an emission of fluids, including semen). Females have nocturnal orgasms as well, but there is no emission. The important thing to understand is that there is nothing wrong with a male if he experiences a nocturnal orgasm or nocturnal emission, as they are normal and healthy experiences. The only problem with a nocturnal emission we can think of is the wet spot it leaves.

Starting between the ages of 10 and 12, males begin going through the process of puberty. During this stage, teenage boys start to produce sperm and gain the ability to ejaculate. It is at this time that most males experience nocturnal emissions, sometimes even before they learn about masturbation. While sleeping, the male's genitals may rub against the bed or sheets, or he may unknowingly stimulate them himself. When this happens, the male may become so sexually aroused that he has an orgasm (even if he is not awake to enjoy it!), along with a nocturnal emission.

A boy's first nocturnal emission tends to cause the most confusion and worry. Most parents don't tell their sons what orgasms and ejaculations are before hand. Therefore the first nocturnal emission is something that the adolescent boy is unfamiliar with. He may think something is wrong with his body: "Do I have cancer or some kind of disease?" He may fear that he has urinated in his sleep.

What is happening to me?
Most adolescents don't want to have to explain to their parents why there is a wet spot in their bed, and this causes fear as well. The truth is that nocturnal orgasms and emissions are natural, and that wet spot will dry up quickly, though unfortunately it leaves a yellowish stain.

Another confusing aspect of a boy's first nocturnal orgasm is the feelings of pleasure and arousal that he feels if he is awakened by it. If the boy has never experienced an orgasm before (via masturbation or otherwise), these pleasurable feelings are strange, yet at the same time enjoyable. Nocturnal orgasms may indeed lead a male to experiment with masturbation in order to experience those sexual feelings again. Teenage boys typically begin masturbating earlier than girls and do it more frequently, and this helps them learn more about sexuality and sources of arousal.

While most parents do not teach their children about orgasms, let alone "wet dreams," an adolescent's friends and peers may attempt to play the Sexpert role. While hearing friends joke and tease about these things may help to alleviate some fears in the mind of the inexperienced boy, many teen stories and "facts" are usually false. Adolescent males going through puberty tend to act like they know everything there is to about sex, when they usually don't know very much.

Therefore if you are a young male and you are afraid of being ridiculed or teased because you "came in your bed," now you know there is nothing wrong with it: More than likely, the boy who teased you has experienced the same thing. Finally, if you haven't had a nocturnal orgasm, don't worry about that either. Not everybody has them, and some males don't experience one until later in life. Don't expect too much from yourself, especially if you are a younger teenager or preteen. Sexuality is something everybody gets to experience, some people just wait longer than others for their time to come.

(Dr Elna McIntosh, Health24 Sexologist)

 
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