Can Women Have Wet Dreams, Too? And Other Questions Answered

Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, PsyD, CRNP, ACRN, CPH on October 9, 2017Written by Annamarya Scaccia on October 9, 2017

What you should know

Wet dreams. You’ve heard about them. Maybe you’ve even had one or two yourself. And if you’ve seen any coming-of-age movie from the 1990s, you know that teenagers can’t get away from them. But do you know what causes wet dreams? Or why you may have a few as an adult? There’s a lot to know about sleep orgasms, some of which will surprise you. Keep reading to learn more.

1. What exactly is a wet dream?

In the simplest terms, a wet dream is when you ejaculate or secrete vaginal fluids during your sleep. Your genitals are hypersensitive during shut-eye time because there’s more blood flow to the area. So if you’re having a dream that’s turning you on, there’s a chance you’ll orgasm and not know it until you wake up.

2. Is it the same thing as a sleep orgasm or nocturnal emission?

Yup. “Wet dream,” “sleep orgasm,” and “nocturnal emission” all mean the same thing. In fact, “nocturnal emission” is the formal name for orgasming when you sleep. So, if you hear people talking about nocturnal emissions or sleep orgasms, remember they’re talking about wet dreams.

3. Can you only have a wet dream during puberty?

Not at all. Wet dreams are more common during your teenage years because your body is going through some major hormonal changes that affect your sexual maturity. But adults can have erotic dreams, too — especially if they’re sexually active.

That said, sleep orgasms do happen more infrequently as you get older. That’s because, unlike during puberty, your hormone levels aren’t out of control.

4. Can women have them, too?

Absolutely! Sure, a quick Google search may make it seem as if only teenage boys have wet dreams, but that’s far from reality. Both women and men can experience arousal while in dreamland.

In fact, research shows that most women have their first sleep orgasm before they turn 21.

Plus, according to a 1986 study published in the Journal of Sex Research, 37 percent of college-aged women reported experiencing at least one orgasm during their sleep. That shows us that female wet dreams are nothing new.

Women don’t always orgasm from a wet dream, though. Men will know they’ve had an orgasm during their sleep because they’ll find discharged semen on their clothes or bed sheets. But, for a woman, the presence of vaginal fluids doesn’t mean you had an orgasm; instead, secretions could mean you were sexually aroused without reaching orgasm.

5. Is it normal to have wet dreams all the time?

As a teenager going through puberty, yes. As an adult, not so much. Don’t worry, it’s not actually abnormal. As we age, our hormone levels decrease, which affects the frequency of wet dreams. But that doesn’t mean you won’t have one as an adult.

If you’re worried that you’re having too many wet dreams, consider chatting with your family doctor to rule out any medical issues that may be contributing to them. If nothing unusual is found, and you’re still concerned, your doctor may refer you to a counselor. A therapist may help you get to the root of your dreams — what they mean and why you seem to have them all the time.

6. What should I do if I have a wet dream?

That depends. You shouldn’t be ashamed of having a wet dream — they’re perfectly normal and could be quite fun! If you’re comfortable with your dreams, use them as a chance to explore your fantasies, sexuality, and inner desires.

But if what you’re dreaming about makes you uncomfortable, reach out to a therapist. Your counselor can help you explore what’s on your mind and why.

7. Will sex dreams always end in orgasm?

Nope. Think about it this way: Do you have an orgasm every time you have sex? Probably not. So the same applies with sex dreams. You may have a dream about doing something sexual, but it doesn’t mean you’ll end up having an orgasm, even if your dream arouses you. On the other hand, you may have a sex dream that makes you climax, but doesn’t cause you to ejaculate or become wet.

8. Are sex dreams the only thing that causes sleep orgasm?

Not necessarily. Sex dreams don’t always make you orgasm during your sleep. And you don’t always have a sleep orgasm because of a sex dream. The pressure or sensation of bedding against your genitals could also possibly trigger an orgasm. It all depends on what your body finds arousing.

9. I have sleep orgasms but have a hard time having orgasms otherwise — why?

First things first: It’s not unusual to have a hard time having orgasms. The ability to orgasm is different for everybody, and a lot of people have trouble climaxing. In fact, studies have shown that 75 percent of women can’t orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone. Of that number, 5 percent of women never have orgasms, while 20 percent seldom do.

If it’s easier for you to have sleep orgasms, then it’s worth exploring what about your dreams is turning you on, and how you could incorporate that into your sex life. Is it a different position? A certain move? Really take the time to connect with your needs and wants, even if that happens to be in dreamland.

10. I’ve never had a wet dream. Is this normal?

Absolutely. Not everyone will have a wet dream. Some people may have a few, while others may have a lot. Then there are people who have wet dreams as teenagers, but not as adults. Dreams are super personal, individual experiences that are different for everyone.

11. Can you make yourself have a wet dream?

Maybe. Research suggests that sleeping in the prone position — meaning on your stomach — could cause you to have sexual or lustful dreams. Why this link exists is unclear, though. But if you want to test the theory, lay on your belly in bed before you go to sleep.

12. Can you prevent wet dreams?

No, not really. Sure, some dream experts suggest you may be able to control your dreams. How so? Well, according to research, you may be able influence your dreamland narrative by either thinking of a subject before dozing off or by using outside stimuli while you sleep.

But trying these tactics doesn’t mean you’ll actually control your dreams successfully. That means there’s no guarantee that you can really prevent a wet dream.

The bottom line

If nothing else, there’s one important thing to remember: Wet dreams are completely normal. Not everyone will have a wet dream, but there’s certainly nothing wrong if you do. Just know that sleep orgasms, like all other orgasms, are super individual. There’s no right or wrong way to have one — or two or three or four.

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