Experts explain what causes them and the side effects.

Rebecca Norris
Dec 30, 2020 @ 9:30 am
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When you think back on sex ed in elementary, middle, and high school, a few things likely stand out—namely, the awkward emotions associated with the development of sex-related organs, vivid pregnancy videos, and the possibility of having wet dreams. Of course, most teachers mentioned sleep orgasms in relation to boys and men. But did you know that women can have sleep orgasms, too?

If you’re as surprised as we are, you’ll be glad to know that we chatted with a couple of sex experts about these less-talked-about sleep orgasms. Learn everything there is to know, below.

Can women have sleep orgasms?

Just because they're not as well covered in sex ed as their male equivalent, sleep orgasms are very much real and possible for women, says sexologist Marla Renee Stewart, who works as a sexpert for the Lovers adult wellness brand. While women can have physical (and noticeable) nocturnal emissions during their sleep, Stewart says it’s less about a soaked bed and more about getting wet in your sleep.

What’s more, some women are actually more capable of getting off in their sleep than they are when they’re awake. “There is a major psychological component to orgasming,” Jesse Kahn, sex therapist and director of the Gender & Sexuality Therapy Center in New York, shared in an interview on the matter with HuffPost. “So, if the reasons someone is unable to have an orgasm during sex are connected to anxiety, depression, stress, shame, internal or external cultural or relational pressures, it’s likely having an orgasm during sleep means those reasons cannot interfere.”

Are sleep orgasms normal?

While Stewart admits (and research proves) that female sleep orgasms are very common amongst all adolescents (and even into adulthood), how often they happen varies for each individual. And, although having orgasms in your dreams is normal, sexologist and Bloomi founder Rebecca Alvarez Story says that many researchers and clinicians pathologize nocturnal orgasms as a sleep disorder (as was the case in this 2018 case report of a 57-year-old woman experiencing problematic spontaneous orgasms). “But as a sexologist I can tell you that most sleep orgasms can be healthy, common, and enjoyable,” she counters.

What causes sleep orgasms?

Where waking orgasms typically involve some sort of physical stimulation, Story says the same isn’t true for nocturnal climaxes. “People are often surprised to learn that an orgasm can occur with no stimulation at all,” she shares, noting that our sexual fantasies are more powerful than many of us realize. “This means the same biological mechanisms that happen in the body when you are awake and orgasm happen when you sleep orgasm, including lubrication," she says.

Are there any side effects or benefits?

As with any orgasm, sleep orgasms lead to increased blood flow, looking flushed, and feeling euphoric. Of course, if you stay asleep while getting off in your dreams, you likely won’t notice this or have any recollection of it come morning—unless you physically lubricate as a bodily response to the dream, that is.

A final word

Since sleep orgasms are involuntary, they’re not necessarily something to set out to achieve. Sure, they feel great. But your efforts will be better spent on how you approach pleasure while you’re awake. That said, if you wake up feeling particularly perky, perhaps you have an orgasm in your dreams to thank.