You probably only think of your partner’s erection when you’re in the mood for sex and hope he’ll rise to the occasion. But there’s loads more to know about erections—and they’re not just a sign the guy’s aroused AF. Here are 13 facts to get under your belt.
What happens during an erection? Arousal begins in the brain and causes chemicals called nitric oxide to be released. This stimulates muscle enzymes to produce cyclic guanine monophosphate, which increases blood vessel size so that more blood can reach the penis. It also decreases the size of blood vessels that carry blood out of the penis. Sounds quite technical but voilà—he’s got an erection!
There are three types of erections. Wait, what? Yup! They come up in different occasions. Psychogenic erections are from fantasies or stimulations, like if the guy’s fantasizing about having sex on the kitchen table or watching porn. Nocturnal erections are ones that happen at night. Reflexogenic erections happen when there’s actual contact with the penis, like when he’s stimulated by touch.
They’re bigger during oral sex. Research from Indiana University found that men who were aroused by oral sex had bigger erections (yes, they were measured!) than those of men who had erections from fantasies.
Erections need good sleep. Not getting enough quality sleep means that erections could be affected. This is because a lack of sleep interrupts the nocturnal cycle of erections, which causes men to experience up to five erections during sleep—each one lasts half an hour! Wow.
He has loads more erections while he’s awake. The average guy will have 11 erections during the day, every day. And they’re not all because he’s aroused. There’s such a thing as the reflex erection, which is an involuntary erection that occurs when a man is nervous, stressed, scared, or angry. Other possible reasons for it are needing to urinate, recreational drug use, and an enlarged prostate.
The average erection size is (maybe) less than you think. Everyone’s always got eight inches on the brain, but honestly, the average erection size is 5.6 inches. Finally, a study that clears that one up!
Some of his erection is hiding. You might assume you’re seeing a guy’s entire erection, but you’re only seeing two-thirds of it. The other one-third is hidden, connected to the pubic arch.
Scents can give him an erection. There could be some truth to how powerful scents are in the bedroom, because a study by the Smell and Taste Treatment Research Foundation in Illinois found that the smell of donuts and black licorice can increase blood flow to the penis by 32 percent, while pumpkin pie and lavender produce a 40 percent increase in blood flow to the penis! OMG. So if you want him to have an erection, maybe pass by the bakery before heading to his house?
Erections might prevent erectile dysfunction. It sounds like a contradiction to say that erections can prevent erectile dysfunction (ED), but research backs it up. A study published in the American Journal Of Medicine found that when men had sex once a week it decreased their chance of ED by half. Hmmm.
There are growers and showers. Don’t think that his flaccid penis is always a sign of how much (or little) his penis will grow when he’s got an erection. Some large penises when flaccid don’t really change much in size when erect (they’re showers), while smaller penises could become much bigger when they’re aroused (hello to the growers!).
Erect penises can fracture. When his penis is erect and you’re having sex, it could get a fracture even though there are no bones in the penis. It happens to approximately 200 American men every year, and one of the most dangerous sexual positions that can cause a penile fracture is when a woman’s on top. When a guy gets a penile fracture, it takes months to properly heal. Gulp!
A guy can orgasm without having an erection—WTF? It sounds impossible for a guy to reach climax without first having an erection, but it can happen. He might not be properly aroused or only have half an erection but still manage to orgasm. How? All that a man needs to climax is normal skin sensations, according to the University Of California, Los Angeles (UCLA Health). Enough sexual stimulation, and he’ll be able to ejaculate. Damn, who knew?
He might not be thinking straight when he’s got an erection. Know the joke that a man finds it hard to think when all the blood’s gushing to his junk? There might be truth to it. A study from MIT and Carnegie Mellon University found that when men were turned on, they suddenly viewed everything the scientists asked them as appealing. This included women’s shoes, the smell of cigarette smoke, and threesomes with another guy. Scarily, the aroused guys also said they worked harder to get sex from women, which sometimes included declaring undying (and fake) love or trying to get women drunk. We aren’t going to blame erections for that—the guys are total pricks!