No, You Don't Have To Have A Penis To Have A "Wet Dream"

Photographed by Michael Beckert.
While many people's sex dreams just live in their imaginations, some people say they can actually have orgasms or experience "wet dreams" in the middle of the night — and these people are not just teenage boys.
Technically, wet dreams are called "nocturnal emissions," and it's very normal for young people with penises going through puberty to experience them, according to Medline Plus. The reason why they get wet dreams probably has to do with the increase of testosterone during puberty, and the increase of blood flow to the penis at night, says Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C, CSC, CSE, a urology physician assistant and sexual health counsellor. Adults with penises and even adults with vaginas can also have wet dreams. They just don't happen as frequently, Fosnight says.
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For people with penises, nocturnal emissions are pretty straightforward, and basically involve a person getting an erection and ejaculating in their sleep. So what happens when someone with a vagina has a wet dream?
Wet dreams are a little less, um, splashy for people with vaginas, and they are usually just the body's reaction to being in the REM cycle of sleep, Fosnight says. "The REM cycle can actually increase the blood flow to the genital area, making arousal easier to achieve," she says. "And if a dream or movement during sleep helps to stimulate that arousal, lubrication or orgasm is very possible." In other words, feeling aroused in the middle of the night is natural, and if you happen to have a sexy dream, it can just make you wetter.
As for the actual "emission," people with penises ejaculate semen when they have a wet dream, and people with vaginas just get more internally lubricated, Fosnight says. In one study from 1986, about 33% of women surveyed had experienced a nocturnal orgasm in their lifetime. So it's definitely possible to also orgasm at night, but you can have a wet dream without an orgasm, too.
When someone with a vagina becomes aroused, their brain signals for the blood vessels in the vagina to start "seeping fluid" out of the vaginal walls, Fosnight says. "Lubrication helps accommodation of things that may penetrate the vagina," she says. Of course, you don't have to be preparing for penetration in order to get wet, and sometimes it's almost accidental.
At night, your genitals can be more engorged or lubricated because there's extra blood flow to the region, Fosnight says. This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with arousal, and it's just your body's way of making sure your genital tissue remains healthy and has enough blood flow, she says. So if you do wake up feeling a little wetter, that could just be "normal pathophysiology to keep the vagina healthy," she says. Or your dream could cause you to get wet because you're also having a sex dream: "Women can definitely have a wet dream from either lubrication from being aroused or through orgasm and ejaculation," she says.
Everyone experiences a different amount of wetness when they're aroused, and a lot of it depends on where you are in your menstrual cycle, how long you've been aroused, and how turned on you are to the stimulus, Fosnight says. If you've never had a "wet dream," that's not a big deal either, and your genitals are probably functioning just fine. Or, as the International Society for Sexual Medicine puts it, "If they occur, that’s normal. If they don’t happen, that’s normal, too." Either way, sweet dreams.
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