Article Thumbnail

Can Vampires Get Boners? A Very Important Halloween Investigation

It’s a question that’s, uh, hard to answer

Vampires have been sex symbols ever since Bram Stoker first wrote Dracula back in 1897. It’s not that Dracula was a looker, but the intimacy required to drink someone’s blood (to say nothing of the slurping sounds) was plenty titillating to Victorian readers. Since then, practically all vampires in pop fiction are so hot that men and women are desperate to have sex with them. But can male vampires fuck them back?

It’s a more difficult question than you may realize, although the short answer is “…sometimes?” Alas, most vampire content creators handwave away any scientific inquiry into their physiology — not surprising, since most fictional vampires are created by magic or a curse, which negates the need for any explanation of how their undead bodies do or don’t work. 

Those creators that do get into it seldom exactly agree on how their bloodsucking characters’ bodies change after being bitten, but there are a few general similarities. Their respiratory systems shut down, as vampires no longer need to breathe. Their nervous systems mostly shut down, rendering them unable to feel pain, the exception being the few ways vampires can be killed, which is usually fire, sunlight and a stake through the heart. Their renal, urinary and excretory systems shut down, as vampires no longer produce bodily waste, despite their ingestion of blood. Vampires also don’t sweat, they don’t get sick and they cannot reproduce by sexual means (although they can certainly sire new progeny by draining a victim, then force-feeding them vampiric blood).

The rest of the reproductive system is up for grabs, so to speak, as well as the circulatory system, which are linked in male vampires just as in human males. When living men become sexually aroused, the blood vessels in the penis vasodilate, widening to allow more blood to flow into the genitals. The blood fills the penis’ erectile tissue — three sponge-like areas in the penis, two corpora cavernosa and one corpus spongiosum — which engorges the penis, filling it like helium into a balloon, but also hardening it into an erection.

Logically, a male vampire would need to have some kind of functioning circulatory system to get an erection, but that would require the vampire to drink blood ahead of time to obtain the blood necessary. The blood, like any ingested beverage, would flow down the vampire’s esophagus into the stomach and small intestines. Normally, the digestive system of living beings uses acids to break down everything we consume into its base molecules, of which the nutrients are primarily absorbed into the small intestine and released into the bloodstream, which delivers them wherever the body needs them. This blood is accompanied by oxygen provided by the respiratory system. However, since vampires don’t need to breathe, and the blood they drink already has glucose in it (since the victims are living), it’s likely the vampire digestive system lets the blood directly into the bloodstream. Once the circulatory system has been effectively refilled, it stands to reason that it could flow into the vampire’s undead penis just as it did in life.

Of course, given that many vampires are immortal beings who don’t cast reflections in mirrors and sometimes have to be invited into a home before they can enter it, things rarely need to stand to reason for them. Some vampires, like Dracula, don’t seem to care about sex at all, and only desire blood. The bloodsuckers of Anne Rice’s long-running Vampire Chronicles novels can have erections but cannot have sex. In the Underworld movies, vampires not only have sex but can get pregnant, which is highly unusual, as vampires traditionally don’t produce sperm (as it’s a bodily fluid, like sweat and urine). In HBO’s True Blood (and the books it’s based on), vampires want to fuck, and they do so, constantly, but whether they need blood specifically to create an erection, or simply so they aren’t too distracted by their thirst for it to have sex, is up for grabs. 

It’s worth noting, however, that in the series, humans can drink vampire blood to enhance their senses and improve sex, although one character drank too much and ended up with priapism — that four-hour erection Viagra warns you to see a doctor about — so bad the blood had to be medically drained from it.

There is actually one series that revealed the physiology of exactly how its vampires could get erections, and it will probably not shock you to learn it’s the uber-chaste but still mega-horny Twilight saga. Given that Twilight’s vampires are wildly different from how vampires are normally depicted, to the point where they infamously sparkle in sunlight like they had a jar of glitter dumped on them, it will also probably not shock you to learn that the way Twilight vampires get erections is equally… unique. See, like some snakes, sparkling vampires secrete a small amount of venom when biting someone, which briefly paralyzes their victims to keep them from escaping. What does this have to do with erections? Author Stephanie Meyer gave this absolutely real explanation to a curious fan on her blog: 

“A fluid similar to the venom in their mouths works as a lubricant between the cells, which makes movement possible (note: this fluid is very flammable). A fluid similar to the same venom lubricates their eyes so that their eyes can move easily in their sockets. … Similarly, throughout the vampire’s body are many versions of venom-based fluids that retain a marked resemblance to the fluid that was replaced, and function in much the same way and toward the same purpose. Though there is no venom replacement that works precisely like blood, many of the functions of blood are carried on in some form. … The normal reactions of arousal are still present in vampires, made possible by venom-related fluids that cause tissues to react similarly as they do to an influx of blood.” 

Given that vampire Edward and human Bella had a (ludicrous-looking CG) half-vampire baby, it should then go without saying that their semen is also a type of venom, although whether this is also flammable is tragically unknown.

If you’re thinking about intentionally becoming a vampire in the future and still want to continue having sex, be very careful about which series’ bloodsuckers you get, uh, sucked by. If you’re bitten unwillingly, you can take some comfort in the fact you probably won’t care about sex anymore. Of course, if you’re not incredibly sexy and good-looking already, chances are you don’t need to worry about being bitten at all.