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Teen Guys and Questions About Erections

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If you're a teen guy, chances are you have questions about erections that you are afraid to ask your parents or even your doctor. Sometimes erections occur at the wrong place at the wrong time, and you have no idea what's going on. Most guys have experienced that awkward moment.

The following Q&As can help you gain a better understanding of erections and why they're one of the changes we experience at puberty.

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Q. Yesterday, when I was riding home on the bus, I could feel my penis getting stiffer and there was nothing I could do about it. When we got to my stop, I got off the bus and had an erection. Other guys were laughing at me and I was embarrassed. It made me feel uncomfortable.

A. First of all, don't feel uncomfortable. You are not alone: Erections are a normal part of growing up. When guys go through puberty, their bodies go through many changes. Their voices begin to change, and facial hair, underarm hair, and pubic hair starts to grow. This is all normal! Also, their penis, testes, and scrotal sacs will increase in size. Talk about an awkward time for guys -- as if trying not to have an erection in public wasn't enough to deal with!

These physical changes are coupled with other changes. During puberty, many guys begin to experience frequent sexual desire. This could lead to a difficult time in the controlling erections department. Often, the erection happens at inappropriate times -- on the way home from school, or at the swimming pool, or at the breakfast table. Just remember, the same guys who were laughing at you at the bus stop are also going through puberty, and this can easily happen to them. We'll give some tips on controlling erections at the end of this article.

Q. How does an erection occur?

A. Erections occur when the "erection chambers" in the penis, called the corpora cavernosa, fill with blood. And how does this happen? Your brain sends signals to nerves in the penis via the nervous system. The signals trigger an increase in blood flow through the arteries in the pelvis. As blood is pumped into these sponge-like erection chambers, it causes valves to open and fill with blood. As the erection chambers fill with more and more blood, less blood is carried away through the veins, so more blood is left in the area to maintain an erection. The nerves in the penis then produce nitric oxide, which acts as a chemical "messenger" that maintains erections. The nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels, filling the spaces with blood, and the erection occurs.

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