In Greek mythology, one’s destiny is determined by three sisters affectionately named “The Fates.” According to legend, these women spun the thread that dictated the course of each person’s life — one produced the thread from her spindle, the other measured its length to represent each person’s lifespan and the third cut the thread, demarking when and why one would die.
But, what if, by some mistranslation, we were wrong in our understanding of the Fates? What if, rather than quantifying a life in terms of time, they did so strictly in the number of boners one would have over the course of their lifetime?
Whether a dude can have a finite number of boners is obviously more of a philosophical question than a physiological one. There are so many different factors that affect erections that an exact figure is simply impossible to calculate — instead, we have to go off destiny, and the far less precise science of using existing research and averages to approximate an answer.
Various online sources like Healthline claim that people with penises have at least 11 boners a day — and even more at night — but there’s not any research to support that claim beyond data stating that most men have four to five while they’re sleeping. That’s also a much higher number than most people cite themselves, at least according to a Reddit thread on the matter. While one guy says he has around 10 erections per day and a teenager says he has 20 or more, the majority of respondents reported having an average of just three. That said, it’s unclear whether any of these figures define a “boner” as a full-blown erection or just some mild chub.
But let’s just run with that “11 boners a day” estimate. I’m assuming this figure accounts for the fact that people going through puberty (which generally begins at age 12) can indeed have upwards of 20 boners a day, and that all those night boners might make a guy’s daily count much higher than 11. Those complications are probably offset by the decreasing capacity of people to sprout boners as they age — researchers estimate that when a man reaches his 40s, he has a 40 percent chance of developing erectile dysfunction. With each successive decade, those odds increase by 10 percent.
Meanwhile, the average life expectancy in the U.S. for men is 76. Assuming the average guy does have 11 boners in a 24-hour period for between the ages of 12 and 40, that comes out to 112,420 boners (I’m not counting any boners that happen before the age of 12, because it’s weird and no one’s researching that).
After the age of 40, a 40-percent reduction in boners per day would equate to 6.5 boners a day. A decade of boners at that rate is 23,725 boners. In your 50s, you’d have 5.5 boners per day, or 20,075 for the decade. In your 60s, that’s around 4.5 per day, or 16,060 hard-ons until you’re 70. In the last six years of the average life, you might have 3.3 boners per day, or 7,227 more after age 70 and before you die at 76.
That all comes out to a grand total of 179,507 boners.
But again, maybe that estimate of 11 a day is too high or too low, and there are an infinite number of factors that could obscure that figure. Perhaps by the time today’s infants are in their 70s, erectile dysfunction drugs will be so good that they’re having more than 11 boners per day. Or maybe humans will have transcended their physical form and become uploaded to the Matrix where we exist as sexless digital beings.
In any case, when I get to the pearly gates, you can be sure that at the tippy-top of my list of questions for whatever angel I have as my death-case manager will be whether the quantity of boners a dude experiences in his lifetime was predetermined. And if The Fates end up being real, I’ll be double-checking with them, too.