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False! Waking without penile erection not sign of poor health

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Claim:  An X user claimed that waking up without an early morning erection of the penis is a sign of poor health and offered cloves as a solution. 

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Sometimes, in the morning, men have penile erections while sleeping or just waking up. This could be attributed to an autonomic nervous system which balances the sympathetic nerves arising from the brain and lower part of the spinal cord resulting in smooth muscle relaxation in the arteries of the penis, then allowing blood to fill the penis, causing an erection.

During REM (rapid eye movement), a recurring sleep state where dreams occur, a man might sometimes have an exotic dream, which may result in an erection or an ejaculation. 

Recently, an X user shared a post claiming that waking without a penile erection is a sign of poor health. The claimant added that consuming clove extract once daily for three days will help with penile erection, especially in the morning. 

The user wrote, “Waking up without morning wood is a sign of poor health. Here is the solution: Boil three tablespoons of cloves in water for 15 minutes. After sieving, drink a teacup of the extract once daily for three days.”

As of April 27, 2024, the post had garnered 386 comments, 11,000 likes, 3,000 reposts and 1.4 million views. 

In the comment section, Gbadebo (@debo_A1), a follower mentioned that he had already started taking the clove mixture. 

“I just started this journey. I drank half a cup this morning,” he wrote, adding a picture as evidence.  

False! Waking without penile erection not sign of poor health

Picture evidence from X user Gbadebo. Photo source: X.

Another user, Mrvisionary$BLOCK, attested to the mixture’s efficiency. He wrote, “Secondly, it makes the wood last longer up to 1 hr per round.”

Considering the post’s traction and its implications for men’s health, DUBAWA sought to verify the claim. 


According to an article published by the International Society for Sexual Medicine, it was established that the absence of a morning erection is not something to worry about.

“Sometimes, men wake up at different points in a sleep cycle, when an erection isn’t occurring. Meaning that men do not necessarily wake up with an erection every morning,” the article explained.

It further clarified that morning erections are not the sole criterion for assessing erectile dysfunction (ED) and healthcare professionals also consider a man’s medical history, testosterone levels, and any medication he is taking.

Also, DUBAWA found an explainer by HIMs, a men’s sexual health blog based in the UK, which noted that since the average level of testosterone in the bloodstream is highest just after sleep, it can cause a morning erection in men. This factor could also be why morning wood becomes less common with age. 

“As people get older, the circulating levels of testosterone decrease, resulting in a lower sex drive and fewer morning erections,” it read.

Can clove extract strengthen penile erection?

According to a study carried out by L. Merr. & Perry on the sexual behaviour of normal male rats and clove, these seeds have been used in medicine since ancient times for the treatment of male sexual disorders. The study investigated the effect of 50 per cent ethanolic extract of clove on general mating behaviour, libido, and potency along with its likely gastric ulceration and adverse effects on sexually normal male albino rats. The results indicated that the 50 per cent ethanolic extract of clove produced a significant and sustained increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats. 

In another study by the same scholars, an extract of nutmeg and clove was administered to different groups of male Swiss mice. The extracts significantly increased the mating performance in male mice. However, this experiment has not been carried out in humans.

Expert’s opinion

When interviewed, Dr Johnson Udodi, a senior registrar at the National Hospital Abuja, explained to DUBAWA that cloves might be used for different anecdotal claims, but there is no evidence that they can cure erectile dysfunction. 

He said; “Cloves refers to the flower bud of the clove plant with the scientific name Syzygium aromaticum. The dried form of this flower bud has been used in various applications including food flavouring, traditional remedies, perfumes and much more. There have been claims that it can be used to treat liver diseases, diabetes, erectile dysfunction (ED) and many others. There are also anecdotal claims that cloves lower blood sugar and thus, by extension, could be beneficial in the treatment of ED since diabetes is implicated in some cases of ED.

“However, there is no direct evidence showing that consuming an extract from boiling cloves can treat ED. Therefore, the assertion from the post on X  is considered to be false.”

He further advised men with erectile dysfunction to see their doctor, “to thoroughly investigate the disorder and treat the root cause.”

Dr Babagana Modu, a registrar at the National Hospital Abuja, also backed Mr Udodi. He noted that the absence of morning erection is not an indication of poor health. 

“Absence of morning erection is not a disease if erection is achieved at other times. You can’t cure a disease that does not exist. The claim is not correct,” he said.


Our findings show that the absence of morning erection is not an indication of poor health. Likewise, clove extract does not strengthen penile erection as claimed. The claims are false.

The researcher produced this fact-check per the DUBAWA 2024 Kwame Karikari Fellowship, in partnership with Premium Times/UNILAG, to facilitate the ethos of “truth” in journalism and enhance media literacy in the country.

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