Relationship between perineal muscle contractions, penile tumescence, and penile rigidity during nocturnal erections

J Urol. 1988 Jan;139(1):176-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-5347(17)42348-2.


The mechanism of penile erection and erectile dysfunction is still unclear and widely debated. The role of the perineal muscles in the erectile process, especially in changes in intracavernous pressure, is increasingly being studied on the hypothesis that perineal muscular contractions are essential to full penile rigidity. In a previous investigation we studied the correlation between voluntary perineal muscle contractions and intracavernous pressure during artificially induced erections. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether under normal conditions of nocturnal erection a similar relationship exists between the electromyographic activities of perineal muscles and changes in penile rigidity. Nocturnal penile recordings were made of seven volunteers with psychogenic erectile dysfunctions. During nocturnal erections simultaneous computerized recordings were made of penile tumescence, penile rigidity, and electromyographic activities of perineal muscles. The peaks for the three variables were reached simultaneously. The results of this study suggest the existence of two different physiologic phases: a vascular phase and a muscular phase. Furthermore, in cases of dysfunctions, specific diagnostic assessment and therapeutic management will be required for both penile tumescence and penile rigidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / physiology*
  • Penile Erection*
  • Penis / blood supply*
  • Perineum*
  • Plethysmography
  • Sleep*