Frequent erections

Dear Alice,

I am a virgin and I was wondering if it is common for a virgin male to get hard-ons throughout the day for no apparent sexual reason? It usually happens to me about 3 - 4 times daily... am I alone?

Thank you very much,
— Curious person

Dear Curious person,

You are not alone; this phenomenon certainly is common among virgin and non-virgin men alike, especially in their teen and younger adult years. Research and self-report show that as men age, though, their bodies are less likely to have reflex erections or erections with fantasy alone. Instead, they are more likely to respond to direct stimulation.

As you have noticed, a sexual stimulus is not necessary for erections to happen. Men get reflex erections during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which occurs during the middle and late stages of the nightly sleep cycle. Erections also can occur when boys and men are afraid, angry, or totally stressed. If a man's prostate gland is enlarged, the pressure from the prostate (this organ, when stimulated, can cause feelings of sexual arousal) can result in an erection. In addition, when a person has a full bladder, the pressure exerted by the bladder upon the prostate gland can cause erections. Finally, if one uses drugs recreationally, such as ecstasy, which can increase one's susceptibility to sexual arousal, erections may arise (no pun intended). Similarly, using Viagra can also help bring about the conditions needed for erections to develop.

So, yes, you are normal, with a normal healthy boys' response.

Last updated May 20, 2005
Originally published Apr 05, 1996

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