Wet Dreams

Written by Lori Reichel, Ph.D.

  |  Reviewed by Hina J. Talib, MD

The technical phrase for ‘wet dreams’ is nocturnal emissions. A wet dream is a discharge or emission from the penis that occurs during the night as the person is sleeping.

Sometimes during the preteen and teen years, people with a penis will experience a wet dream as the body’s way of practicing releasing semen. During a wet dream, a person will be sleeping and their penis will harden due to blood rushing into the spongy tissues of the penis. Semen, the combination of sperm and other seminal fluids, is eventually released (ejaculated) from the erect penis as the person continues to sleep. The person may wake up or continue sleeping. When they do wake up, they will discover semen in/on their underwear, pajamas, and/or bed sheets.

Some people with a penis will experience wet dreams during their preteen and teen years, and others will not. Either is natural and normal!

Tips if you have a wet dream
  • Remove your underwear and pajamas if you wake up and have semen on them. These can be put into the laundry and you can put on clean clothing.
  • Remove your bed sheets if semen got onto them and clean them in a washing machine (if available).
  • Realize you cannot plan a wet dream. These happen naturally as you sleep.
  • Decide if you want to share that you experienced a wet dream with a family member. Most family members who realize you are going through puberty will probably expect this to occur and understand these are a natural part of growing up for most people who have a penis.