When we talk about “wet dreams” or nocturnal orgasms, most people think of awkward teenage boys and their first brush with puberty. Although it’s not discussed as frequently, nocturnal orgasms are also a common experience for women. Unsure if that’s what happened to you last night? Here’s what you need to know:
Can women really orgasm in their sleep?
Yes, absolutely, says Dr. Kelly Culwell, an OBGYN and former medical officer at the World Health Organization. “We hear about men and their wet dreams a lot, but it definitely happens with women as well, and it can happen even without any stimulation or through an erotic dream,” Culwell says. “I suspect it happens a lot more than we hear about.”
How common are they?
The research on female orgasms is limited because research on female sex is limited. But early studies from the famous sex researcher Alfred Kinsey found that about 70 percent of women had sexual dreams, and that by age 45. Another study found that 37 percent of women had sex dreams that led to an orgasm and women who experienced sleep orgasms reported having their first one before turning 21.
What causes nocturnal orgasms?
Again, researchers aren’t entirely sure, but during rapid eye movement (or REM sleep), women, like men, experience increased blood flow to their genitals. In addition to that, Dr. Culwell also believes that sleep produces conditions that are conducive to female orgasms. “There’s a huge component of female orgasm that’s mental and emotional, and so it may be that during sleep there’s a reduction of inhibition, and then if there’s any stimulating thought or dream or emotion that comes up during sleep, that can trigger an orgasm during sleep,” she says.