Erections can come at moments you don't expect, and when you don't feel exactly…turned on. They can happen in response to being sexually aroused and they can happen for seemingly no reason at all. But that's because there are different types of erections - it's a physiological process that's more complicated than just being horny...
BY THE ROAM TEAM 7 MIN READ
An erection is a physiological occurrence when the penis becomes hard and enlarged, due to a rush of blood flow.
Erections happen when the blood flows quickly to the penis, causing the tissue to become hard. After climax, or when arousal has just passed by itself, the enlarged penis relaxes, allowing blood flow out of the penis, and it returns to its normal, flaccid state. Most people have a refractory period, which can last anywhere between 15 minutes to a day, where they can't get another erection straight after.
You're feeling aroused and you get hard! Erection alert - you're ready to have sex. This erection is the 'stereotypical' and takes place because you're turned on.
Did you know that a penis owner can get a boner three to five times a night whilst they're asleep? They can last from 30 to 60 minutes and are healthy, so there's nothing surprising or uncommon about them!
And they're not always to do with you just having a sex dream. When you're asleep, there's an increase in activity of the parasympathetic system, which allows you to rest and recover - your heart rate slows, your muscles relax and you enter REM sleep. Nighttime erections are a by-product of this, though scientists are still researching why exactly they occur when our body is relaxed.
Most guys have been at the gym and been confronted by a semi, or full, erection, which can feel a bit embarrassing at the time. But it's also totally normal and is a sign you're working out hard - when you exercise, your heart rate increases and blood is pumped more quickly around your body, causing an erection. Some research also suggests that the release of endorphins during exercise can contribute to your mid-squat hard on.
Maybe the most bizarre of our list, but also easily explained, is the toilet erection, which happens when you're sat and ready to get down to business. Holding in a pee causes the pelvic floor to contract and since your pelvic floor is involved in an orgasm, stimulating it in this way can release neurotransmitters which trigger an erection.
They're a thing, though for most they're not common (so you can breathe a sigh of relief next time you're squished next to someone on a RyanAir flight…) There isn't a lot of research behind airplane erections, but most theories suggest that air pressure changes within the airplane cabin cause your blood pressure to change, relaxing your arteries and causing more blood flow to your penis. Et voilà…your mid-flight hard on.
Remember these from puberty? They can still happen whatever your age, despite being common in teenage years. One-off and seemingly random erections are caused by peaks in your testosterone levels.
Unlike most of the other types of erection, these boners are not common and require medical help. If you've had a boner for more than 2 hours, ring your doctor or go to the hospital. Priapisms are a type of disorder and can be very painful - this happens when blood remains in your penis and can't be drained. Around 1/3 of priapism cases don't have a known cause, whilst others are caused by underlying health conditions.