Did you hear the terms ‘erection’ and ‘nightfall’ while growing up and it left you confused? Due to a lack of sexual health education, these terms tend to confuse adolescents. It allows several myths about nightfall to make a permanent home in our minds. Thus sometimes, even a biological process like nightfall that is completely natural tends to cause severe guilt and shame in adolescents. Let us break it down into some simpler parts to understand why nightfall is nothing to be ashamed of:
1. What do we mean by erection and nightfall?
An erection, which is more commonly known as ‘boner’ among youngsters, is a physiological phenomenon. It refers to the hardening of the penis when a person experiences sexual arousal. This happens due to the flow of blood in the chambers of the penis. The blood gets trapped inside the blood vessels under high pressure and the penis becomes firm, enlarged, and erect. Although erections are mostly associated with sexual arousal, that is, being “turned on” as we commonly know it, one may also get an erection without any particular reason, which is referred to as spontaneous erection. An erection may result in the emission of a whitish fluid that comes out of the penis. This fluid is known as semen, or cum.
Nightfall is a natural condition where there is an involuntary ejaculation of semen when a person is asleep at night. Sometimes, it may also occur early in the morning before the person wakes up. This is often known as nocturnal emissions or wet dreams.
2. Why does nightfall occur?
Nightfall occurs because of hormonal changes taking place inside the body and several physical changes taking place outside the body. During this condition, people may have dreams which are sexually arousing in nature. Due to this, they may experience a sexual peak in their sleep and end up ejaculating involuntarily. Many tranquillizers, high blood pressure medicines, sedatives, and so on have a lot of side effects that can increase the frequency of night falls.
The mental state of a person’s mind also plays a key role here. For example, anxiety, stress and depression causes hormonal imbalances. This may weaken the nerves and therefore lead to more nocturnal emissions. The same may also occur due
to inadequate physical activity leading to a lethargic lifestyle, diabetes or obesity.
People who abstain from sexual pleasure for a long period experience more nightfall.
According to a source, “If sexually active, if the man masturbates regularly or has sexual
contact of any kind, they have a lesser chance of having nightfall.” Considering the other extreme side, people who masturbate or self-stimulate very frequently can also become more prone to having wet dreams in a loop. This is caused by weak nerves, a congested prostate gland and the inability to control one’s emotions and sexual urges.
3. Is nightfall in adolescents normal?
Nightfall in adolescents is an absolutely natural phenomenon. Due to more hormonal changes and physical changes during this period, one may experience more nocturnal emissions. Moreover, youngsters are nowadays more exposed to sexual content,
pornographic images and sexual engagements mainly due to the presence of social media. They may come across such content through a Facebook link and get tempted to watch it again and again. They may also be addicted to watching pornography. This leads them to have more sexually arousing dreams at night.
Tanaya Narendra, an Oxford-trained doctor and sexual health educator is quite famous among young people on Instagram. In one of her educational reels, she asked, “Has it ever happened to you that you have gone to bed perfectly normal at night and then woken up in the morning to see that you have had an orgasm in the middle of the night?”
She explained further, “In medicine, we call them ‘nocturnal emissions’ and normally,
they are called ‘wet dreams’ and they are a perfectly regular part of your normal sexual
development.” According to Dr. Tanaya, you might experience these wet dreams more in your younger years but you can also see them in your later years. It isn’t a condition that needs to be cured and you can get them even if you do not masturbate.
4. Why is nightfall considered taboo?
Our society mostly does not have a sex-positive approach towards people of any age group. Whenever people try to start a dialogue about sex or anything related to the body, one is discouraged or silenced. Sexual shame is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we may often forget that we are sexual beings. A victim of such conditioning wrote anonymously in ‘GoodTherapy.org’, “I’m a virgin and have barely even been able to masturbate, let alone approach intimacy with a partner. I feel ashamed and guilty whenever I try, even though I tell myself over and over again that self-exploration is healthy and necessary. I desperately want a relationship, too, but can’t fathom the idea of overcoming my nervousness about sex and exposing my body (nudity was condemned in my family as well).”
Hence, nightfall can become a very frustrating condition for young people. They may not be able to understand why it occurs. They are not allowed or encouraged to discuss it with their parents or friends. Due to the shame that is wrongly associated with sexual
arousal, one may feel very guilty, shameful and embarrassed about one’s nocturnal
5. What are some of the myths associated with nightfall?
To de-stigmatize the phenomenon of nightfall in adolescents, we must first understand
the myths associated with it which need to be busted:
Only men or people with a penis experience nocturnal emissions: Women or people with a vagina may also experience wet dreams but it occurs less frequently as compared to people with a penis. Thus, it may lead to vaginal wetness and spontaneous orgasm.
A person’s sperm count and immunity reduces due to nightfall: During wet dreams, the testicles remove older sperm and help to form healthy and new sperm. Excess sperm in the testicles are removed, and this boosts up one’s immunity and improves one’s reproductive system. Therefore, it is completely untrue that nightfall harms one’s immunity or reduces one’s sperm count.
Nocturnal emissions occur only in adolescents: People have wet dreams more commonly during adolescence and early adult years due to hormonal changes. However, people do not necessarily stop having wet dreams altogether after that. People may experience nocturnal emissions later in their lives as well.
Wet dreams occur in very few people due to an underlying illness: Wet dreams do not occur due to an underlying illness, it is not an illness or disorder. They are rather beneficial for health and also boost metabolism. They are a normal occurrence and a sign of healthy sexual development. The reason why nightfall is considered to be a rare phenomenon and a taboo is because it is still deeply stigmatized and not discussed with an open mind.
Masturbation can stop the occurrence of wet dreams: This is another myth about nightfall. It cannot be stopped or prevented by masturbating. However, sometimes, people may experience wet dreams less frequently if they masturbate.
A person’s penis will shrink if they have wet dreams every night: There is no scientific proof that nocturnal emissions cause a person’s penis to shrink. In fact, there is no proven fact that suggests that nightfall can cause damage to one’s penis or its shape and size.
Precautions to be taken:
Firstly, nightfall needs to be normalized and people should be encouraged to speak about it. Adolescents must be told that nightfall is not taboo and they need not feel any guilt or shame about it. Sexual health education should be compulsorily provided in schools and NGOs which should discuss and explain nightfall. Youngsters should accept it as a normal biological phenomenon.
Adolescents must also be told how to experience nightfall safely and hygienically. They must wash their genitals as required and clean their inner garments and sanitary products regularly. If they want to manage the frequency of their nocturnal emissions, they may take a shower and meditate before they go to sleep. It will calm their senses and help them relax.
It is also advisable that they do not consume too much pornographic content. Watching excessive porn videos on the internet or reading too much erotic literature affects people’s ability to concentrate, arouses them in an unhealthy way and increases the occurrence of nightfall. However, sometimes, they may find that their wet dreams are harming their health or mental state. In such cases, they should certainly consult a physician and sex therapist. These precautions will aid adolescents by ensuring them that nightfall is safe, normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
– Tania Banerjee