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What Is a Wet Dream?

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Updated May 01, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: What Is a Wet Dream?
In what is a common experience, especially during adolescence or periods of abstinence, wet dreams may occur during our sleep, but what is a wet dream? Learn about wet dreams (or nocturnal emissions), what causes them, and whether they relate to sexual desire or need.
Answer:

What Is a Wet Dream?

Wet dreams occur during sleep and consist of ejaculation for men or vaginal lubrication for women. They are also known as nocturnal emissions. They are sometimes interpreted as a spontaneous orgasm. Wet dreams may occur throughout our lives after puberty, but they are more common during adolescence or during periods of sexual abstinence. For men, they may occur with or without an erection.

What Causes Wet Dreams?

Wet dreams occur normally without a clearly identified inciting cause. There is some association between an increased frequency of wet dreams and a lack of sexual activity or masturbation. Some studies have shown that higher testosterone levels are associated with more frequent wet dreams.

Can Women Have Wet Dreams?

Although women may not be aware of the occurrence of vaginal lubrication or wetness associated with a wet dream, it is thought that they also experience this phenomenon. However, the term is most often used only for men.

Are Wet Dreams Related to Erotic Dreams?

There is no evidence that wet dreams are directly related to erotic dreams or any other type of dreaming. Similarly it is unclear if they can be solely attributed to unmet sexual desire or need. The fact that they seem to increase in frequency during periods of abstinence may suggest this, but this relationship is a difficult one to prove.

Source:

Finkelstein, JW et al. "Effects of Estrogen or Testosterone on Self-Reported Sexual Responses and Behaviors in Hypogonal Adolescents." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 83(7):2281.

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