By Augusta Medical Systems
Erections are necessary to keep penile tissues healthy, so is frequent sex important for the health of the penis? The answer to that question would be yes if not for nocturnal erections. Certain anatomical processes occur during sleep that naturally create erections, called nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) or nocturnal erections. These processes happen while you are in the rapid eye movement (REM) phase of sleep. REM is the last of five stages of sleep that most people experience nightly. The stages are cyclical, so once a person goes through all five phases the cycle starts over again. Nocturnal erections are often measured to determine if you have a medical condition that is the caused of erectile dysfunction.
If you are a healthy man and sleep 5-8 hours in a 24 hour period, you probably experience 2-6 erections on a nightly basis, or on a routine basis of you sleep at times other than at night. If you have one or more of several medical conditions, or if you are taking certain medications, the natural pattern of nocturnal erections is disturbed and often eliminated.
What happens if nocturnal erections cease to exist?
Penile rigidity and erections oxygenate erectile tissues by increasing blood into the penis. The disruption of regular blood flow due to the absence of nocturnal erections has specific physiological consequences. The absence of nocturnal erections leads to the wasting away of penile tissues. This condition is also known as non-use atrophy and it results from the lack of oxygenation in penile tissues.
Scientist and doctors who are recognized thought leaders in urology have published peer reviewed articles that studied the relationship between the absence of regular blood flow into the penis and penile tissue health. The Journal of Sexual Medicine published one such article by John P. Mulhall MD and Abraham Morgentaler MD, FACS. The results of this and many other studies find that an absence of erections, nocturnal or otherwise, leads to penile shrinkage, tissue atrophy and programmed cell death.