Life

Do Women Have Wet Dreams?

In the wise words of Annie Lennox, updated by moi, "Wet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree?"
08 July 2020, 8:15am
Snoring woman in red blankets
Photo: Getty

For all the failings of the British sex education system, one major pitfall is its poor representation of the pussy. Diagrams and dioramas that fully ignored the existence of the clitoris is one thing; worse still was waking up in a wet patch during my teens and thinking I had some kind of incontinence issue. Of course, the problem wasn't me, it was patriarchal – while the lads were taught all about nocturnal emissions, the ladies were left thinking we simply don't have them.

There is a notable lack of research into female orgasms – something Kate, 28, and a regular wet dreamer, refers to as "scientific sexism". In a 2017 interview with Broadly, science journalist Angela Saini explained that "there's a lot of bad evolutionary psychology out there" that implies women are "less promiscuous" than men, that women are weaker than men – or, in this case, that women can’t have wet dreams the same as men.

Wet dreams are more obvious among men, because they usually result in a big blob of semen on their pants or bed sheets – but that doesn't mean women don't have them. According to Dr Sirin Lakhani, a cosmetic doctor and intimate health expert at Elite Aesthetics, anyone can have an orgasm in their sleep.

"[Wet dreams] can happen to men and women of any age, although they tend to start during puberty and decrease with age," Lakhani explains. "For women in particular, REM sleep causes an increased blood flow to the clitoral area, which leads your brain to sexual arousal, which can then result in an orgasm."

Physiological changes occur when a woman orgasms in her sleep, including an increase in heart rate and breathing to coincide with the increased vaginal blood flow. There are also external factors that spur them on, like thinking about people you fancy right before you drop off, pressure or friction from bedding, or lying on your front (if your tits don't get in the way). That said, women’s wet dreams aren’t as clear cut as they are for men. "Vaginal secretions can just mean you were sexually aroused and not necessarily that you reached orgasm," Lakhani explains.

With the knowledge that my wet bed sheets and even wetter pussy may not be robust enough evidence that other women have wet dreams, I scouted out how other fannies are expressing their sleep orgasms to see if there are any other indicators for those unsure of what to look out for. Sarah, 22, says she knows she's had a wet dream when she wakes up shaking, breathless and basically in that post-orgasm "whole body feeling". Briar, 23, says their nocturnal emissions make her "morning stretches feel really good, and I just get that after orgasm glow".

Although the phrase "wet dream" technically describes having an orgasm in your sleep, Kate and Elle, both 26, say they usually wake up on the brink. "My wet dreams don't tend to end in an orgasm – I normally wake up at that point, frustratingly," Kate explains. "They make you feel very aroused, like how you would feel after some good foreplay. Just because they don't end in an orgasm, I wouldn't say it's not a wet dream."

Thinking on Kate's quote made me wonder if the reason we don't hear about female-bodied wet dreams in the way we do about male-bodied ones isn't just a patriarchal notion that pussies can’t do what dicks can, but that we’re trying to understand an overnight orgasm in the limited and gendered context of a spermy bedspread. Even the word wet has a totally different connotation in these terms.

Whether women are merely "flooding their basement" or full-on squirting during sleep, both should be considered a wet dream, because, guess what, the fanny is far from dry either way. In fact, it is my belief that we should reclaim the term "wet dream" for ourselves and reclassify whatever the lads are having as a "spunky nightmare".

@GINATONIC