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What causes erections


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#1 funguy37

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Posted 21 September 2003 - 09:55 AM

PENIS ANATOMY & ERECTION
By M.J. Ecker
IF you think the penis is just a balloon of skin that fills up with blood when you get an erection, you're quite mistaken. Or, at least, that's an oversimplified way of looking at it. The mechanisms for erection are complex and interesting. First, let's take a look at the various structures that make up the penis.

There are three erectile structures inside the penis; when the penis is soft (or "flaccid"), these are like cylinders of sponge — except this kind of sponge is normally collapsed and expands only when something (blood) fills it. One of the cylinders is located near the base of the penis, surrounding the urethra; it's the corpus spongiosumor "spongy body." The other two are located on each side of the upper part of the penis; each of these is called a corpus cavernosumor "cavernous body." The corpora cavernosa (that's the plural) are largely responsible for the hardness of the erect penis, as the corpus spongiosum is somewhat softer, which you can verify yourself. (Note in the picture to the right that most of the penis head, or glans, is just an enlargement of the corpus spongiosum.) Running through the center of each corpus cavernosum is one of the two major arteries of the penis; blood returns from the penis to the heart through the veins, located closer to the skin. The Cowper's glands secrete the pre-ejaculatory lubricating fluid commonly called "pre-cum." The erectile structures go deep into the body, which is why your erect penis doesn't flop around like your flaccid penis. Surrounding the erectile structures is connective tissue, and everything is protected by a thin layer of skin. (The foreskin, of course, is removed in circumcised males; for more on circumcision, go here.)

When a male gets sexually stimulated (either physically or mentally), nerve impulses are sent to a place near the base of the spinal cord called the erection center. Nerves passing from the erection center to the penis supply a return impulse that causes the release of a substance called acetylcholine which causes the arterioles (small arteries) in the erectile structures to dilate, or widen. At the same time, muscles surrounding the veins near the base of the penis contract, restricting the amount of blood that leaves the penis. As a result, the erectile structures begin to fill with blood and expand. As they expand, the penis as a whole begins to enlarge and harden.

Even though the erection center in the spinal cord is responsible for the actual erection, the brain is definitely involved, too. The brain can send signals directly to the erection center and cause it to kick into action, which is why looking at an exciting picture can cause an erection. The brain can also inhibit erection, too. The nervous system contains two sub-systems — the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic is responsible for such things as fear, the "fight or flight" reaction, and ejaculation; meanwhile, the parasympathetic is responsible for calming and getting things like the digestive muscles to operate. The parasympathetic system is also responsible for causing erections. Since these two systems operate against each other, fear — or an orgasm — can inhibit erections. This is why you tend to lose your erection after ejaculation: orgasm is a big event for the sympathetic nervous system, so when it occurs it basically knocks out the parasympathetic system for a while, causing your erection to go down. It's also why impotence (the inability to get an erection on demand) is such a problem in some men — if they get anxious that they won't be able to perform sexually, their sympathetic nervous system dominates, actually making it more difficult for them to get an erection. So, the key to getting an erection is to relax.

Non-sexually related erections happen often, especially in young men. Spontaneous erections are all too common in adolescent males, but there's really nothing that can be done about them. Also, erections frequently occur during sleep, especially toward the end of the sleep cycle — which is why you often wake up with an erection. Again, not much can be done about them and they're all a natural part of being a male.


comment from funguy: i suppose when the body stops producing acetylcholine ED sets in. meds like viagra then are the ones that replace this loss.

The illustrations were adapted from Gerald J. Tortora & Nicholas P. Anagnostakos's Principles of Human Anatomy and Physiology© 1981 Gerald J. Tortora & Nicholas P. Anagnostakos. All Rights Reserved.


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#2 Superstock

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 03:21 AM

Thanks for the info funguy37.

And to think I always THOUGHT I was in control.



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Superstock ( I say It's a joke son, it's a joke)
(So says Foghorn Leghorn my hero)

I will try anything once and the good stuff over and over and over...............

Impotence...Nature's way of saying "No hard feelings."

#3 bear

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Posted 22 September 2003 - 08:27 PM

Funguy, thanks for another great post. thanx.gif

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#4 Superstock

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 02:43 AM

Hey Funguy37

I always thought erections were caused by a warm moist mouth wrapped around the pointed end of my dick. Just the thought of my brain being in charge puts me off my feed.

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Superstock ( I say It's a joke son, it's a joke)
(So says Foghorn Leghorn my hero)

I will try anything once and the good stuff over and over and over...............

Impotence...Nature's way of saying "No hard feelings."

#5 funguy37

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Posted 24 September 2003 - 09:41 AM

well, since it is somewhat difficult for anyone to place a warm moist mouth on your brain to turn u on... i guess they have to settle for that pendulum hanging below your stomache...

#6 chad

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 06:07 PM

A Limerick concerning erectile dysfunction!

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Chad, a 62 year old case of ED. tongue2.gif tongue2.gif tongue2.gif


#7 jarichon

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Posted 11 November 2010 - 01:20 PM

Often when my boyfriend is asleep he gets an erection, I dont know if its from dreams or what, but whenever I go to...um shall we say mearg dreams with reality he always turns away from me so I cant reach him. We have a healthy sex life so I dont think its because he's not satisfied, and whenever I ask him about it he always says he doesnt remember what he was dreaming about.
So is there any other reason for him to have an erection?


#8 JaxJacker

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 07:50 AM

Often when my boyfriend is asleep he gets an erection, I dont know if its from dreams or what, but whenever I go to...um shall we say mearg dreams with reality he always turns away from me so I cant reach him. We have a healthy sex life so I dont think its because he's not satisfied, and whenever I ask him about it he always says he doesnt remember what he was dreaming about.
So is there any other reason for him to have an erection?


I always thought that we got erections while we sleep because we tense ourselves in order to not piss.

#9 bear

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 11:11 AM

Nocturnal erections are the body's natural process of renewing itself. It has nothing to do with having to piss, and most usually has nothing to do with what we are dreaming about. Erections usually occur during REM sleep.

Be more concerned about NOT getting nocturnal erections than about what causes them.

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#10 galaxy1

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Posted 30 January 2011 - 06:14 AM

Nocturnal erections are "nature's way" of keeping the plumbing working.

When my urologist was diagnosing my ED some years ago he issued me an electronic monitor to wear while sleeping. The monitor had a sensor that wrapped around the penis and detected any enlargement. The data were stored then read out on a PC in the doctor's office. One text I read said you can accomplish the same thing with a strip of postage stamps. Wrap them around your penis and glue the ends together. If the strip is broken in the morning, you had an erection.

Frank




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