By Alice || Edited by Go Ask Alice Editorial Team || Last edited Jul 05, 2024
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Cite this Response

Alice! Health Promotion. "How many times a day do people typically get erections?." Go Ask Alice!, Columbia University, 05 Jul. 2024, Accessed 14, Jul. 2024.

Alice! Health Promotion. (2024, July 05). How many times a day do people typically get erections?. Go Ask Alice!,

Dear Alice,

Should a normal man's penis become erect for a certain number of times throughout one day (without any external stimulus)? Or, do these erections occur only while a man is sleeping? I have been masturbating once every day or every other day, and I have noticed that I rarely get any of those spontaneous erections during the day at all. Plus, I have been waking up with no morning erection during the past week. Have I been masturbating too much?

— Worried

Dear Worried, 

You may be looking for some hard and fast statistics on hard-ons, but the truth is that every penis marches to the beat of its own drum. During the day, erections generally only happen when there’s some form of arousal or sexual stimulation. During the night, people with penises often experience between three to six spontaneous erections while sleeping (more on these in a bit). In general, masturbation doesn’t impact the number or quality of your erections. As long as you’re not experiencing problems achieving or maintaining an erection during sex or masturbation, there isn’t much reason to be alarmed about the number of spontaneous erections.  

To answer your question, frequent masturbation likely isn’t the cause of your tamer-than-usual penis. Masturbation doesn’t influence your ability to stay erect, affect your fertility, or change the size of your genitals. In fact, it comes (pun intended) with a whole host of health benefits. Some of these include releasing sexual tension, reducing stress, and promoting better sleep, focus, and mood. How often you fly solo is up to you—after all, you’re the pilot of your own plane! Masturbation only becomes “too much” if it’s interfering with your daily responsibilities, social life, or romantic relationships. As long as you’re not experiencing chafing or soreness from frequent masturbation, using it to cope with negative emotions and stress, or experiencing problems with sexual or romantic intimacy, feel free to proceed full steam a-head.  

So, then what causes a surprise stiffy? Spontaneous erections are those that occur without sexual stimulation. These uninvited boners can happen if something makes you think about sex or turns you on, whether it’s the sight of your crush or something else entirely. Another common experience is nocturnal penile tumescence, more commonly known as morning wood. These spontaneous morning erections often line up with the timing of your rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, as this is when blood flow increases to the penis. As a typical night’s sleep usually consists of four to five cycles of REM, you may have four to five erections, each lasting 25 to 35 minutes. People tend to stay in REM sleep for longer periods of time as the night goes on and often wake up just as they’re coming out of REM sleep. This may explain why waking up with morning wood is so common. Some other possible causes of morning wood include fluctuating testosterone levels, bed sheets or clothing brushing against the penis, or a full bladder pressing on the nerves in your lower back that stimulate erections. 

While some people may begin each day with a raised flag or pitched tent, others may be feeling, well, deflated. It’s not uncommon to wake up sometimes without an erection. For instance, it’s possible that you weren’t in REM sleep before waking up or that your erection began to fade before you woke up completely. Additionally, teens may find themselves flying their flag at even the gentlest breeze; this becomes less frequent with age as hormones begin to settle. That said, it may be a good idea to check in with a health care provider if you’re concerned that there could be something more serious going on. A complete lack of morning erections may be an early sign of erectile dysfunction, a common condition where a person is unable to achieve or maintain an erection long enough to have sex.  

While it would be nice to be able to control when your erections happen, the reality is that penises tend to do their own thing—whether that means far more or far fewer erections than expected. Over time, you’ll likely get a better sense of your body’s internal rhythms and what makes you tick!  

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