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What Causes Erection And What Are The Factors That May Affect Them

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An erection is a physiological process in men or Assigned Males at Birth (AMAB), where the penis becomes enlarged and erect.

During an erection, the penis becomes temporarily engorged with blood, making it firm and causing it to the erect position.

Erections are common in children, young men, and adults but can also occur in children. They are more frequent after a person hits puberty.

Erections are essential for sexual function, intimacy, reproduction, and overall sexual satisfaction.

Each individual has a different shape, angle, and direction for their erection.

They are often caused due to sexual arousal and sexual attraction. Apart from these, several other various factors may also cause an erection.

Let us dive deep into this article and find out what causes erection and the factors that may affect the erection.

What causes an erection

Erection is caused due to complex interactions of several physical and psychological factors.

An erection usually occurs when men or AMAB become sexually aroused. It is a common cause of erection. 

A person becomes sexually aroused due to touch, visual stimuli, and erotic thoughts.

Arousal enables the muscles, nerves, hormones, and blood vessels to work together to create an erection.

The blood vessels in the penis widen when an individual is sexually aroused, allowing more blood to flow into the penis. This increased flow of blood can cause an erection.

The smooth muscles in the penis help to hold the blood to maintain an erection.

When an individual is aroused, the brain sends signals to the nerves in the penis. These nerves release a neurotransmitter called Nitric Oxide (NO).

NO plays an essential role in achieving and maintaining an erection. It helps achieve an erection by relaxing Corporal Cavernosal smooth muscles that increase blood flow to the penis.

Sex hormones such as Testosterone also play a vital role in achieving an erection. A review of studies has mentioned that Testosterone is essential for erectile function.

Blood vessels, smooth vessels, and hormones all together help to cause an erection.

However, in some men, the erection can be affected due to various factors, or they cannot achieve and maintain an erection. This dysfunction is known as Erectile Dysfunction (ED).

In such a case, the best would be to consult a doctor immediately to diagnose the causes of ED.

Doctors may prescribe medicines like Viagra and Cialis to manage this erection problem.

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  • What causes erection or a random erection has everything to with the thoughts and stimuli experienced by a person Source: Oleskandr_Todorov_from_Getty_Image
    Random erections are most common in young adults

    What are Random erections

    Men or AMAB may also experience erections or boners without any physical or psychological stimulation.

    These erections are known as random erections. These random erections can also be embarrassing.

    They are pretty common and normal and indicate healthy sexual functioning.

    Men of any age may experience random erections. However, they are common in adolescents and young adults. 

    Waking up with an erection in the morning is common and is known as Nocturnal Penile Tumescence or morning wood. 

    Fluctuation of levels of hormones such as Testosterone may lead to a random erection. A review published in HHS Public Access mentioned that Testosterone has an essential role in sexual functioning.

    Individuals may experience 3 to 5 erections during sleep, and these erections may last for 25 to 35 minutes.

    To learn more about random erections, read I Get Erect Very Easily: Your Comprehensive Guide to Frequent Erections

    Nocturnal Penile Tumescence is also called morning wood. Random erections need not be treated unless they cause pain or discomfort.

    Factors that may affect erection

    Several factors may affect your erection. 

    These factors may also lead to Erectile Dysfunction, a sexual dysfunction that affects the ability of men to achieve or hold their erection during sexual intercourse.

    According to WebMD, the following factors may affect your erection:

    A fat man sitting in front of TV eating junk Source: Mjodragignjatovic_from_Getty_Images
    Obesity and a bad diet can affect your erections

    Body weight

    Obesity can be the reason for several medical conditions. 

    Excessive body weight may cause strain on the heart and might cause Hypertension and Diabetes. Both of these medical conditions may affect the erection.

    Want to know the link between Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction? Read the article: Diabetes and Erectile Dysfunction: What is the Link? to know more.   


    Alcoholism may also affect your erection. 

    Drinking excessive alcohol might affect your liver and brain and the production of Testosterone and may lead to Erectile Dysfunction.

    Do you want to know about how alcohol may lead to Erectile Dysfunction? It is recommended to read this article: Alcohol Can Cause ED: Understanding the Devastating Effects.

    Depression and blood pressure medications

    Depression and blood pressure may affect your erections. 

    The medications used to treat these conditions may also lead to Erectile Dysfunction. 

    It is important to visit a doctor’s clinic if you’re finding it difficult to achieve and maintain an erection when sexually aroused. 

    The doctor may change the dosage or medication, which might cause ED. They may even prescribe ED medicines to manage your impotence.

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  • Key Notes

    Erection is a process in men or AMAB where their penis becomes erect when they are sexually aroused.

    The erection of every individual can be of different shapes and angles. It is common in young and adult men. 

    So what causes erection? Erection can be caused due to several physical and psychological factors.

    Men may also experience random erections without any sexual stimulation. 

    These erections are safe and indicate the healthy functioning of a penis. However, these random erections can cause embarrassment.

    Various factors may affect the quality of erections and can also lead to Erectile Dysfunction.

    Obesity, alcoholism, high BP, and depression medication may affect your erection.

    You should get advice from the doctor immediately if you are having difficulties achieving an erection. They may prescribe medicines such as Viagra and Cialis to help achieve an erection.

    Consuming Viagra and Cialis may cause side effects such as headache, indigestion, and stuffy nose. It is beneficial to talk with medical personnel before taking these medicines.

    Frequently Asked Question

    How can you maintain an erection?

    Maintaining a healthy weight and stress and exercising regularly may help to maintain an erection. However, if you are unable to achieve or maintain an erection, you should visit a doctor’s clinic immediately.

    Is it OK to have an erection daily?

    Yes, it is completely normal to have an erection daily. Erections are a sign of good sexual health and vary in individuals, some may experience several erections, and some may experience only a few erections.

    How long can an individual stay erect?

    The duration of an erection varies in individuals. Most of the men or AMAB can maintain an erection for 10-15 minutes. However, if you are unable to maintain an erection or have erections for too long, it is advised to contact a doctor. A doctor will help diagnose the condition for its effective treatment.

    Does age play a role in the frequency or quality of erections?

    Yes, age may play a role and affect the frequency or quality of erections. Men may experience a decrease in the frequency and strength of their erection due to the factors such as low levels of Testosterone and psychological and medical conditions. 

    Can psychological factors affect the ability to get an erection?

    Yes, stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues, and performance anxiety can all impact the ability to achieve or maintain an erection.

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    Photo of author Janet Fudge
    Janet Fudge is a highly skilled and experienced pharmacologist who serves as a contributing writer for With a strong academic background from a premier US University and a passion for helping others, Janet has become a trusted voice in the pharmaceutical world. After completing her Doctor of Pharmacy degree, Janet embarked on a successful career in the pharmaceutical industry, working with various clients, including hospitals, retail pharmacies, and drug manufacturers. Her in-depth knowledge of pharmacology and dedication to patient-centered care has led her to excel in her field. As a writer for, Janet uses her wealth of expertise to provide readers with accurate, reliable, and up-to-date information on various topics related to medicine and healthcare. Her engaging writing style and ability to break down complex topics into easily digestible content make her a valuable resource for healthcare professionals and the general public.
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