I Have Morning Wood but Still Have ED. How Can That Be?

Morning erections and erectile dysfunction. Can you have ED if you can still get hard?

Man with ED examining his morning erection

I have morning erections but still have erectile dysfunction, how can that be? Well, surprisingly morning erections and erectile dysfunction can happen at the same time. The good news is that experiencing morning erections is a good sign that the problem is psychological and not physical.

The fact that your body is healthy enough to produce morning erections is a good indication that there aren’t medical issues causing ED. It means your circulatory system can direct blood flow to the penis, and that there isn’t any major nerve damage or hormonal issues.

One exception is if ED is caused by low testosterone. It is not always the cause nor a leading cause of ED, but if it is the underlying issue, morning erections may be easier due to testosterone levels are higher during that time of day.

How to treat ED if you have morning erections?

As a sex therapist, one of the first questions I ask my ED patients is if they experience morning erections, and/or are able to have an erection in a stress free environment, such as during masturbation. If they can, it’s safe to assume that they are likely experiencing psychogenic ED – Erectile dysfunction that is caused by psychological factors.

A man with psychological ED looking at this morning erection

The leading psychological cause for ED is performance anxiety. Other common psychological causes include general stress, depression and anxiety.

The common aspect of all of these psychological causes is distractions during sex prevent you from becoming aroused enough for your brain to signal your body to direct blood into the penis, which is needed to form an erection.

That’s why you’re able to get spontaneous morning erection when you’re asleep, but are unable to get erection in sexual scenarios.

Your body is healthy enough, but your mind has a mental block that prevents it from triggering erections.

A clear mind is the key to erections

To treat psychological erectile dysfunction, we have to learn how to be in the present moment, and not get carried away by negative thoughts. After all, it’s hard to be aroused when you’re ruminating about your presentation at work, or are worried about your sexual performance.

One of the therapeutic tools I love recommending to my patients for reducing negative thoughts during sex is practicing mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness teaches us how to stay in the present moment. By staying aware and in the moment during sex, we basically block the power of negative thoughts to affect our arousal levels, therefore protecting our erections.

A recent study has shown that 9 out of 10 men who suffered from psychogenic ED and practiced mindfulness meditation for 4 weeks were able to overcome their erectile dysfunction. 

In summary

It’s completely possible to experience erectile dysfunction while still having normal morning erections. 

The leading theory is that the goal of nocturnal penile tumescence (the medical term for morning erections) is to keep our penis healthy. Regularly activating the physical mechanisms that are needed for an erection have a protecting quality.

If you have morning erections but still have ED, the root cause is probably psychological. Addressing the psychological cause, using tools such as mindfulness meditation can be helpful in reversing the issue.

About Bailey Hanek PsyD

Clinical Psychologist and Certified Sex Therapist

Dr. Bailey Hanek is a clinical psychologist and an AASECT-certified sex therapist. She serves as a professional consultant for Between Us Clinic. Dr. Hanek provides sex therapy and general psychotherapy to adults in her private practice. In addition, she works to increase access to information about relationship and sexual health through her founding role in The Relationship Coaches.