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A nocturnal emission involves either ejaculation during sleep for a male, or lubrication of the vagina for a female. It is also called a "wet dream", or a spontaneous orgasm.

Nocturnal emissions are most common during adolescence and early young adult years. However, nocturnal emissions may happen any time during or after puberty. The emission may happen with or without an erection, and it is possible to wake up during, or to simply sleep through, the ejaculation. Though nocturnal emissions are mostly attributed to, and more noticeable by men, women are also capable of having them.[1] Urination may also occur after the emission of semen in males.[2]


Causes and myths

Little is known about the actual cause of nocturnal emissions, leaving explanation of the phenomenon to wide speculation. Popular claims include stimulation of genitals by a mattress or sheets, erotic dreams, or memories of sexual activity or thoughts. However research has shown no conclusive connection between masturbation frequency and nocturnal emissions (see Frequency below) nor has it shown that erotic thoughts or dreams accompany nocturnal emissions. Although these causes have not been conclusively ruled out, they also have not been substantiated by experiment; currently, what can be agreed upon is they begin only after puberty due to increased hormone production.These occur in dreams, and recently I had one in which a chick was giving me a hand-job with two hands.


The frequency of nocturnal emissions is highly variable. Some men have experienced large numbers of nocturnal emissions as teenagers, while others have never experienced one. 83% of men in the United States will experience nocturnal emissions at some time in their life.[3] For males who have experienced nocturnal emissions the mean frequency ranges from 0.36 times per week for single fifteen-year-old males to 0.18 times per week for forty-year-old single males. For married males the mean ranges from 0.23 times per week for nineteen-year-old married males to 0.15 times per week for fifty-year-old married males.[4] In some parts of the world nocturnal emissions are more common. For example in Indonesia surveys show that 97% of men experience nocturnal emissions by the age of twenty four.[5]

Some men have the dreams only at a certain age, while others have them throughout their lives following puberty. The frequency that one has nocturnal emissions has not been conclusively linked to one's frequency of masturbation. Widely known sex researcher Alfred Kinsey found "There may be some correlation between the frequencies of masturbation and the frequencies of nocturnal dreams. In general the males who have the highest frequencies of nocturnal emissions may have somewhat lower rates of masturbation. Some of these males credit the frequent emissions to the fact that they do not masturbate; but it is just as likely that the reverse relationship is true, namely, that they do not masturbate because they have frequent emissions."[6]

One factor that can affect the number of nocturnal emissions a man has is whether they take testosterone-based drugs. In a 1998 study, the number of boys reporting nocturnal emissions drastically increased as their testosterone doses were increased, from 17% of subjects with no treatment to 90% of subjects at a high dose.[7]

During puberty, 13% of males experience their first ejaculation as a result of a nocturnal emission.[8] Kinsey found that males experiencing their first ejaculation through a nocturnal emission were older than those experiencing their first ejaculation by means of masturbation. The study indicates that such a first ejaculation resulting from a nocturnal emission was delayed a year or more from what would have been developmentally possible for such males through physical stimulation.[9]

Although purported treatments to help prevent or diminish nocturnal emissions are available in abundance, none are known to have undergone any kind of rigorous experimentation or approval process such as that required by the Food and Drug Administration. Like the hiccups, there are a huge variety of "home remedies" with no scientific basis. Moreover, because no proven physical harm (beyond the inconvenience of cleaning the semen ejaculated) is caused by the event, and it is not symptomatic of any underlying problem, it is generally considered inadvisable to undergo any sort of treatment.

Such detailed analyses of female wet dreams have not been found.

Spontaneous orgasms can also occur during waking hours in both sexes.


In the 18th and 19th centuries, if a patient had ejaculations outside of marital intercourse, or released more semen than is typical, then he was diagnosed with a disease called spermatorrhoea or seminal weakness. A variety of drugs and other treatments, including circumcision and castration, were advised to treat this imagined "disease".[10][11] Some modern doctors, especially herb healers, continue to diagnose and advise treatments for cases of spermatorrhoea, but these treatments have not been validated by thorough experimentation and observations.

Religious views

There are numerous religious views on nocturnal emissions. Below is a limited summary of some perspectives.

Patristic Christian View

Saint Augustine held that male nocturnal emissions, unlike masturbation, did not pollute the conscience of a man, because they were not voluntary carnal acts, and were therefore not to be considered a sin.[12] Augustine did, however, pray that he may be released from the "glue of lust" and thus recommended the beseechment of God's assistance in clearing one's soul of all such carnal affections.[13]

Saint Augustine interprets the references to the uncleanliness of discharge of seed (and menstruation) in Leviticus as symbolising disorder and unruliness as opposed to the seed forming a human being through conception which symbolises the form and structure of a just life.[citation needed]

Jewish Views

Some examples of passages under the Mosaic law of the Bible teach that under the law of Moses a man who had a nocturnal emission incurred ritual defilement.

"If a man has an emission of semen, he shall bathe his whole body in water and be unclean [Hebrew tameh] until the evening. And every garment and every skin on which the semen comes shall be washed with water and be unclean until the evening."
Leviticus 15:16-17 English Standard Version
"When you are encamped against your enemies, then you shall keep yourself from every evil thing. If any man among you becomes unclean [Hebrew lo yihyeh tahor, literally "is not clean"] because of a nocturnal emission [literally: "by reason of what happens to him by night"], then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp, but when evening comes, he shall bathe himself in water, and as the sun sets, he may come inside the camp."
Deuteronomy 23:9-11 English Standard Version

A third passage relates more specifically to priests, requiring "a man who has had an emission of semen," among other causes of ritual defilement, to abstain from eating holy until after a ritual immersion in a mikveh (see paragraph below) and a subsequent night-fall (Leviticus 22:4).

The regulations required the defiled person (tamei) bathe in a mikveh. A man who had normal intercourse with his wife was also considered ceremonially unclean, and he too was required to bathe in a mikveh and he became pure after the sun had set (Leviticus 15:18). Leviticus makes similar statements about menstruation (15:19-24) and childbirth (Leviticus 12).

In Judaism, the Tikkun HaKlali, also known as The General Remedy, is a set of ten Psalms designed in 1805 by Rebbe Nachman whose recital is intended to serve as repentance for nocturnal emissions.

Most rabbis feel that nocturnal emissions are associated with daytime thoughts, and there are comments impinging the wisdom of those who suffer from immodest dreams. A midrash attributes not having nocturnal emissions as being an attribute of holiness.

Islamic View

Muslim scholars consider ejaculation (regardless of cause) unclean; it means that a Muslim who has ejaculated cannot pray, hold the Quran or enter a mosque until he performs ghusl (basically, cleansing his entire body, whether in the prescribed ceremonial fashion or by simply showering/washing his entire body in water).

A wet dream in and of itself is, however, not a sin in Islam. Moreover, whereas a person fasting (in Ramadan or otherwise) would normally be considered to have broken his fast by ejaculating on purpose (during either masturbation or intercourse), nocturnal emission is not such a cause. He or she is still required to bathe prior to undergoing some of the rituals above.

Medieval folklore

In medieval Western occultism, nocturnal emissions were believed to be caused by a succubus coupling with the individual at night, an event associated with night terrors.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Platner, Jon "Pleasant Dreams! A Guide to Nocturnal Emissions," Planned Parenthood
  2. ^ Millner, Denene "Holy hormones! What to expect when puberty hits," April 1, 2009
  3. ^ Kinsey, Alfred C. "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" p. 519
  4. ^ Ibid, p. 275.
  5. ^ Badan Pusat Statistik "Indonesia Young Adult Reproductive Health Survey 2002-2004" p. 27
  6. ^ Kinsey, Alfred C. "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" p. 511.
  7. ^ Effects of Estrogen or Testosterone on Self-Reported Sexual Responses and Behaviors in Hypogonadal Adolescents - Finkelstein et al. 83 (7): 2281 - Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
  8. ^ Kinsey, Alfred C. "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" p. 190
  9. ^ Ibid, p. 299
  10. ^ Ornella Moscuci. y/moscucci/ Male masturbation and the offending prepuce. Excerpt from "Sexualities in Victorian Britain." Mirror 1.
  11. ^ William Acton. "Victorian London - Disease - Spermatorrhoea". From Prostitution, considered in its Moral, Social, and Sanitary Aspects. 2nd edition, 1870. Compiled in Lee Jackson's The Victorian Dictionary.
  12. ^ This view is confirmed by the Protestant theologian Philip Schaff. S.23
  13. ^ Confessions, Book X, Chapter XXX

Simple English

A nocturnal emission is when a man has an orgasm while sleeping. Many young men have their first orgasm this way. They might not understand what has happened to them, if they have not been taught anything about sex.

It is also called a wet dream.

Wet dreams are natural and harmless. They do not mean that anything is wrong with you. The only problem with them is the mess, and it's not a big mess.

Wet dreams sometimes happen during or after a dream about sex, but scientists are not sure what causes them. Most sexual dreams do not cause orgasms.

If you urinate while asleep, this is called wetting the bed, not a wet dream.

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