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The Parent Buzz
A Newsletter for Parents from Let's Be Honest!
December 2007 - Vol 1, Issue 8
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Welcome to The Parent Buzz, an e-newsletter designed especially for parents and caregivers of middle school-aged children by Let's Be Honest!, the Parent Education program of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

The alarm clock sounds - time to wake up. Your son or daughter slowly opens his or her eyes, and tries to figure out which pair of jeans to wear to school today. But wait, what's that? The bed sheets feel wet and sticky. The reality sets in.

For many young people, this scenario is all too real starting in puberty when hormones play a major factor in their healthy development. Although most guys (and some girls) will at some point experience having a nocturnal emission - or wet dream - many find the aftermath embarrassing. But having a wet dream is nothing to be ashamed of - in fact, it's totally natural and normal! Read on to learn more about the physiology behind nocturnal emissions and some tips on talking with your adolescent about this common occurrence.

What's a Wet Dream? A wet dream is an erotic dream that is so intense that a male ejaculates in his sleep. Nocturnal emission is one of the ways the body gets rid of semen build up. Very often guys don't remember the dream. If they don't know what's going on, they may think they've "wet the bed." As your child experiences puberty, it's useful to explain the effect that hormones can have on their development and prepare them so that they aren't caught unaware.

Although wet dreams are most common among teenage guys, many men also have nocturnal emissions as adults. Some men never have wet dreams, but most do. Dreams or no dreams - both are normal. Women and girls have wet dreams, too. Their vaginas become lubricated as they become sexually aroused in their dreams. But there is less evidence of wet dreams in women than in men because less liquid is produced or spilled on the bed sheets. Wet dreams are also more common in men, because a man's penis gets more tactile stimulation (physical touch) during sleep than a woman's clitoris.

What's Going On and How to Explain It So, what happens from the time someone closes eyes to the time of a nocturnal emission? Here's how it works:
  • During sleep, from time to time, our bodies enter periods called REM, or rapid eye movement, which last from a few minutes to a half hour.
  • During these sleep periods, males can experience several erections, and females can experience vaginal lubrication.
  • If a dream during REM sleep is very arousing, the sensation of an erect penis pressed against a mattress can lead to ejaculation in guys. Girls can also get aroused to the point where they produce some liquid from their vaginas.
Puberty can begin on average at approximately age 11 for girls and approximately age 12 for boys. Use a matter-of-fact and relaxed tone while explaining facts about their anatomy, hormones and puberty. Parents can help reassure and prepare their adolescent by explaining that wet dreams are a normal part of their sexuality and are nothing to be embarrassed about. You might want to start a conversation with something like this - "I've noticed that your body is beginning to change, you're really starting to grow up! You're starting to go through something called puberty which is a normal developmental stage of life at your age. During puberty, a lot of changes happen to young people's bodies, emotions, hormones, attractions to other people and ability to think about things in a more mature way. One of the normal changes that might happen to you is something called nocturnal emissions and I want to give you some information about it so you won't be surprised if it happens to you." Then, proceed to give your child some of the information explained here.

It's important to stay calm when evidence of a nocturnal emission is found on the sheets or if your son or daughter asks you a question about it. Remind them that most teenagers have them and a lot of adults have them too. In fact, many people believe that nocturnal emissions actually help to relieve stress. Remember - it's a natural part of life!
AmberMadisonTV is a unique Web-based video channel informing young adults about sexual health and sexuality in a safe and interactive environment. Amber Madison, author of "Hooking Up: A Girl's All-Out Guide to Sex & Sexuality" delivers accurate information through her own humor and real-life perspectives to teens and young adults who are curious about sex, relationships, health and overall well-being. The programming covers sexual health topics including body image, pregnancy, relationships, sexual assault, sexual orientation and STDs.
Many girls and women question whether they should clean the inside of their vaginas on a regular basis. Actually, it is not necessary to clean the inside of the vagina. A woman's vagina is self-cleaning - it gets rids of mucus, menstrual fluid, and old cells that are no longer needed. Besides having menstrual periods, women may have other vaginal discharges - whitish-yellow secretions that are normal and healthy. It's also normal to have a natural genital odor. Some women douche - they spray a special solution (usually a water/vinegar mixture) into the vagina to clean it. But douching isn't necessary, and it can even be harmful, especially if scented products are used. Douching can upset the balance of vaginal bacteria, which can cause vaginitis, an inflammation of the vagina. So, let nature do the work!

Don't forget to visit our website at http://www.plannedparenthood.org/ma/for-parents.htm! Our website is updated regularly with helpful tips for talking, information about workshops, and much more. Don't miss an opportunity to be the primary sexuality educator for your children. Need help? Call our Parent Education Team at (617) 616-1658.


Parent Education
Planned Parenthood League of MA

phone: (617) 616-1658
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