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What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Having Sex: Pros and Cons

At some point most people will enter a dry spell in their sex lives, where they go quite some time without having sex. If you find yourself in a period of abstinence, you might be wondering how it can affect your health.

What happens when you don’t have sex: physical health

People go through dry spells for lots of reasons. Sometimes people who aren’t in a relationship prefer to wait until they find the right person. The attraction between the couple can diminish, leading to a lack of sexual activity. Other times, people just don’t want to have sex. So, what happens when you don’t have sex for a long time? 

Immune system

Regular sex improves the immune system and prepares the body to fight off illness by releasing endorphins. This means that having sex less often might result in more frequent illnesses, like the cold or flu. A study reported that saliva samples of college students who had regular sex were found to have a higher concentration of certain antibodies called immunoglobulin A, which fight the common cold. 

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Vaginal health

Having sex after a long break can be uncomfortable. It takes longer for the female body to become aroused and produce enough lubrication to make sex easy and comfortable. Regular sex or masturbation can keep the tissues in your vagina healthy by improving blood flow.

Period pains

Some people find sex to be an excellent remedy for menstrual cramps. The increase in endorphins caused by sex as well as the uterine contractions that occur with orgasm can both help alleviate cramps. You don’t have to have sex to reap these benefits — masturbation can have the same effect.

Cardiovascular health

If you do not have sex on a regular basis, you are at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In addition to being a source of exercise, sexual intercourse helps keep your estrogen and progesterone levels in balance, which can lower your risk of heart disease.

What happens when you don’t have sex: mental health

Some people equate having a sex life with their self-worth. Although this is not the case, they may feel more anxious and depressed if they go a long period of time without having sex. It’s important to remember that your value does not come from having sex with other people. 

Aside from that, the effects on your mental health caused by abstaining from sex can include:

Stress and anxiety level

Having sex releases endorphins and the hormone oxytocin into the body. These neurochemicals can help manage the effects of anxiety or stress. Oxytocin has the additional benefit of helping you sleep. If you do not have sex regularly, your body may release these hormones less often, which might make it more difficult to cope with stress.

Libido 

Surprisingly, going a long time without having sex can make you lose interest in sex altogether. The more you have sex, the more you want to have sex. Regular sex boosts your libido. 

Relationship health

For many couples, regular sexual intercourse is an important way to maintain their bond. Regular sex also often leads to better communication. Generally, couples who have sex more often feel more emotionally attached and connected in comparison with those who do it less often. 

What happens when you don’t have sex for a long time? For some people, their relationship with their partner becomes more stressful and they stop feeling connected. Other couples aren’t interested in sex or they don’t find it to be an important way of connecting, preferring conversation or shared activities instead.

The benefits of not having sex for a long time

Many people choose to not have sex for a variety of reasons. Some people don’t enjoy it or aren’t interested. Others find it to be a distraction from the things they really care about. Although having sex can have positive effects on your health, not having sex has benefits too. Some of the positive side effects of not having sex for a long time include:

  1. You don’t have to worry about getting pregnant: Although there are many very highly effective methods of birth control available today, the only 100% absolute, most certain way to not get pregnant is to not have sex.
  2. You’re less likely to get a urinary tract infection: Naturally, not having sex is going to drastically reduce your chances of getting a sexually transmitted infection, but abstaining from sex also makes it less likely that you’ll get a urinary tract infection.
  3. You get to know yourself better: Sometimes people have a hard time focusing on their pleasure when they’re having sex with somebody else. Going through a dry spell is a great way to take some time to figure out what you enjoy by masturbating. If you decide to be sexually active again, you can share this information with a partner to make sex even more enjoyable.
  4. You can have some much-needed space: Abstaining from sex can give you time to focus on any big emotional issues you may be dealing with. Sometimes abstaining from sex is necessary after an illness or medical procedure and doing so can even help to speed up the healing process.

Going without sex for a long time can be a frustrating experience if you would rather be sexually active. However, a period of abstinence can be an opportunity for personal growth and self-love. If you’re partnered and you find that a lack of sex is affecting your relationship with your partner, an earnest discussion may help you both better understand what you need in a relationship to feel satisfied.

Sexual activity has the potential to improve or maintain health on different levels but this does not mean that you have to have sex to be healthy or stay healthy. Each person has different desires and needs when it comes to sex. If you find yourself in a dry spell, take the time to get to know your own personal desires.

Brody, Stuart. “The Relative Health Benefits of Different Sexual Activities.” Journal of Sexual Medicine, vol. 7, no. 4pt1, 2010, pp. 1336–1361., doi:10.1111/jsm.2010.7.issue-4pt1.

Coleman, Eli. “Masturbation as a Means of Achieving Sexual Health.” Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, vol. 14, no. 2-3, 2003, pp. 5–16., doi:10.1300/j056v14n02_02.

Lindau, S. T., and N. Gavrilova. “Sex, Health, and Years of Sexually Active Life Gained Due to Good Health: Evidence from Two US Population Based Cross Sectional Surveys of Ageing.” Bmj, vol. 340, no. mar09 2, 2010, pp. c810–c810., doi:10.1136/bmj.c810.

Liu, Hui, et al. “Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk among Older Men and Women.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 57, no. 3, 2016, pp. 276–296., doi:10.1177/0022146516661597.

Vasilenko, Sara A., et al. “Short-Term Positive and Negative Consequences of Sex Based on Daily Reports Among College Students.” Journal of Sex Research, vol. 49, no. 6, 2012, pp. 558–569., doi:10.1080/00224499.2011.589101.

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