Why do men have the physiological phenomenon of ‘saluting the flag’ in the morning?

Dear doctor, I haven’t had early morning erection lately. What disease do I have, should I go to the doctor, why do men have the phenomenon of “saluting the flag” in the morning? (Hung, 34 years old, Hanoi)


“Salute the flag” in the morning – as it is called in folklore – is the state of nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT). In fact, most men have erections 3 to 5 times per night, each time can last 30 minutes but because they are asleep, they are not aware. This condition is common in men of all ages, especially young people and teenagers.

After a night of waking up, the body will be less tired, sex hormones increase at the highest level, the penis will erect itself without any stimulation. This phenomenon can occur due to the need to urinate, bladder distension, nerve stimulation to the spinal cord and a direct response by causing an erection.

The cause may be due to physical stimulation, changes in hormone levels, because hormone levels are highest at the time when men first wake up. This increase in testosterone levels can cause an erection of the penis without any accompanying physical stimulation. Therefore, the phenomenon also no longer appears frequently in middle-aged men.

In addition, during the day, the male brain secretes norandrenaline to help maintain alertness and inhibit erection. When sleeping, the concentration of noradernalin secreted less. Therefore, morning “saluting” in men is a common and completely normal physiological phenomenon.

Your case does not specify how long you do not have an erection, how often before or not. However, if the regular morning erection suddenly stops decreasing or stops completely, you should see a doctor early to better understand your health status.

Men maintain a healthy lifestyle to avoid or reverse erectile dysfunction such as eating right, exercising, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol. Most morning “saluting” will subside within 30 minutes of waking up. If an erection lasts longer or causes pain in a man, he should also see a doctor.

Doctor Le Duy Thao
Department of Andrology, Hong Ngoc General Hospital


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