Your Guide to the Different Types of Boners

Your Guide to the Different Types of Boners


Sexual Health
Types of Erections

If you are someone who has a penis, chances are you have experienced a boner (whether welcomed or not). While an erection is defined by the dictionary as an enlarged and rigid state of the penis, typically caused by sexual excitement, there are plenty of other reasons for getting hard. Curious about the different types of boners? Here’s the long and short of it.

The Puberty Erection

Let’s start from the beginning. Believe it or not, biological baby boys can begin to get boners before they are even born, also known as the phenomenon of fetal erections. Baby erections, while totally normal, are not a sexual response but rather the body’s response to touch. Once a child hits puberty, which is usually around 11 years old, erections begin to become more frequent and can be caused by physical contact, sexual thoughts, or for no reason at all. For males, puberty begins when the brain sends a signal to the testicles to start making the hormone testosterone, which is the major sex hormone in males. Testosterone plays an important role in libido, voice deepening, wet dreams, sperm production, facial and pubic hair, growth spurts, and last but not least, erections. While boners have a starring role in awkward moments during puberty, don’t be so hard on yourself! This is simply a sign that you are maturing and will happen less frequently as you age.

Morning Wood

A morning erection, also known commonly as “morning wood’ and scientifically known as Nocturnal Penile Tumescence (NPT), occurs when a penis is filled with blood, which causes you to wake up hard. Although more common in younger people, morning erections can be experienced by all ages and are a completely normal occurrence. So, what causes your penis to rise with the sun? Morning wood can be caused by shifts in testosterone levels, which as a reminder is the primary male sex hormone. When you wake, your testosterone levels are at their highest. This hormone increase alone may be enough to cause your rooster to go “Cockll-doodlle-doooooo”, even without stimulation. Although your eyes are shut and you may be half-asleep, your body is still alert to touch. You may also become erect if you or your partner grazes your genitals (on purpose or accidentally), or even from the bedsheets or pajama fabric rubbing against you.

Boner 101

Sweet Dreams

Let’s talk about the boner that comes before you wake. According to ASTROGLIDE’s Resident Sex Researcher, Dr. Justin Lehmiller, “People who were born with penises—regardless of whether they identify as men—experience an average of 4-5 erections during a full night of sleep. Little-known fact: people born with clitorises—again, regardless of their gender identity—experience the same thing.” Sleep erections last on average for about 25-35 minutes each and can happen from infancy, into your adult life. Dr. Justin explains that these erections occur during rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep), which we experience 4-5 times in a night, in line with the 4-5 erections experienced per night. REM sleep is when our dreams tend to occur, and yes, this means wet dreams too. Fun fact: although sexual dreams and boners can happen at the same time, one does not necessarily cause the other. Rather, boners in your sleep are caused by hormonal (testosterone) and neurotransmitter (stimulators of erections) effects that occur during REM sleep.

Testosterone plays an important role in libido

The Pee Boner

Having a full bladder may cause a reflexogenic erection, which is a boner that is a direct result of stimulation of the penis. Stimulation from a full bladder pressing on the nerves in your lower back may be the cause of a “pee boner”. The downside to this experience? While it’s possible, peeing with a boner is HARD. Here are a few tips to help you rise to the occasion:

Massage Your Bladder: If you are unable to pee, try giving your bladder a helping hand. Gently applying pressure to your bladder may help speed up the process.

Distract Yourself: Think about anything that may get rid of your unwanted boner. This can be anything from “unsexy” thoughts, or complex thoughts like working through math problems or opening the Soduku App on your phone and solving a quick puzzle.

Change Your Position: Bending over to pee or sitting down may help relax the muscles that are blocking you from going number one.

The Uninvited Guest

Although uninvited boners occur frequently throughout puberty, it’s not uncommon to experience an inconvenient boner as an adult. Just as morning boners can be caused by an increase in testosterone when waking, random erections can be caused by fluctuations in hormones throughout the day. This type of boner is not very forgiving as they can happen at any time – yes, even at a formal event, before giving a presentation, while working out, etc. The list goes on and on, as mostly any public place or event is an “awkward” place to find your penis standing at attention. If this has happened to you, don’t worry. You can only go up from here (no pun intended)! While these random erections are usually not a cause for concern, if you notice a sudden change in the frequency of your erections, you should speak with a medical provider, as this may be a sign of a medical condition.

The Classic

Now that we’ve discussed unwanted boners in-depth, let’s talk about the wanted boner! Psychogenic erections occur when you think of sexual fantasies or memories and can happen with or without physical touch. The mental stimulation often matched with physical stimulation, sends a message to your penis via your nerves to become erect. At this point, manual stimulation or sex can occur, whether participating in self-pleasure or with a partner. It’s important to note, however, that just because you got it up does not mean it will stay up. While erections usually last from a few minutes to a half an hour, a few reasons why you may not be able to maintain a boner include fatigue, anxiety, alcohol, medications, discomfort, self-consciousness, and more.

morning wood caused by shifts in testosterone levels

Last Man Standing

While it can be difficult to keep an erection, at times it can also be hard to get rid of an erection. Blue balls (or epididymal hypertension) occurs when a boner lasts for an extended period. Typically, blood is released from the penis after an orgasm or by decreased sexual arousal, bringing your body back to its regular state. However, too much blood may remain in the penis of someone who has become aroused for a long period of time without a release. While not usually serious, this can cause pain, discomfort, aching, and heaviness. On the other hand, painful boners that last for several hours, also known as priapism, occur when blood remains in your penis and can’t drain. If you experience priapism, you must seek immediate medical treatment from a healthcare provider to avoid permanent damage, as the trapped blood in your penis will eventually run out of oxygen and can cause harm to the existing tissue. While priapism is relatively rare, it more commonly occurs in people with existing medical conditions. For example, 30% to 45% of people with sickle cell disease will experience priapism.

Alcohol impedes normal blood flow to the penis

Whiskey D*ck

So, you’ve had a few too many cups of liquid courage at the party and are ready to take your partner home. The problem is that while you may be ready for your partner, your penis is not. According to our Sexual Health Advisor, Dr. Josh, “This occurs because alcohol impedes normal blood flow to the penis, increases angiotensin, a hormone linked to erectile dysfunction, and depresses the central nervous system—making it harder to get or stay hard.” It is important to note that while alcohol may help you make a move on someone you have been too shy to talk to before, lowered inhibitions caused by alcohol will also put you at greater risk when it comes to sex. Excessive alcohol consumption has the ability to impair decision-making skills, leading to an increased risk of STDs and infections, sex without clear consent, and injuries during sex. Read our blog on how alcohol impacts sexual dysfunction for more on this topic.

In this blog we have covered the different types of erections that you may experience throughout your life, from unwanted boners, wanted boners, and boners that you want but can’t get. The bottom line: if you experience the hard-ons listed in this article, you are not alone! Don’t let it get you down (literally and physically).


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