This Is What Happens to Your Body When You Stop Having Sex

It’s that unfortunate thing that happens to many people with a healthy sex life. Whether it’s by choice or by design, there will come a stretch of time when you just don’t get it on. Now don’t worry — you aren’t some hideous creature if you aren’t constantly going at it. But you should, however, be aware of some of the ways that a lack of lovemaking can alter your body, both physically and mentally. Here are some of the crazy things that happen to your body when you stop having sex for a while.

But first: Are you even interested in sex?

A pensive couple lies in their bed.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone thinks about sex all the time. | Katarzyna Bialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

We ask this because there is a difference between not having a regular sexual partner, and not being interested in doing the deed at all. There are a few under-diagnosed sexual disorders, which apply to both men and women, and they take into account individuals that just simply aren’t as interested in rolls in the hay. For these people, there might not be the same side effects as someone who previously saw action on a regular basis.

Now, if you are someone whose level of intimate activity has dropped off, here are the things that can happen.

Some of these things only affect men …

A man sits at the edge of the bed while his partner lies down.

Men often avoid sex due to health concerns. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This will probably sound crazy, we know. But a study from 2008 found that men who stop having sex for a long period of time can experience erectile dysfunction. WebMD explains that some doctors still remain skeptical of these claims, as the study doesn’t address whether or not a lack of sex actually causes E.D. However, there is certainly a connection between the two, especially in men over the age of 50.

… and others, well, they affect women

A woman lies in her bed with her partner asleep.

Women often face difficulties in the bedroom. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

For starters, it’s a myth that a woman’s vagina gets tighter if she doesn’t have sex for a while. But a lack of intercourse or even stimulation can, unfortunately, cause the vagina walls to weaken. Blood flow and the rush of estrogen during sex helps keep the vagina elastic, so a lack of action can have the opposite impact. This is even more important as women get older and reach menopause, as their vaginal muscles naturally become thinner.

Some of these things affect your mood …

Two women smiling at each other.

There’s a solution to your bad mood. | Monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

Those sayings about sex putting you in a good mood really are true. A roll in the hay releases endorphins in the brain, which give a level of satisfaction as if you just finished a really good workout. When you go without the hanky-panky for a while, you may find yourself becoming easily stressed, anxious, or even depressed.

… and others affect the way you think

A couple in bed, a man kisses his partner's forehead.

Sex can even be great for the brain. | Puhhha/iStock/Getty Images

It sounds crazy, but a lack of sex can actually mess with your cognitive function. The Atlantic points to two studies from 2014 suggesting that doing the deed on a regular basis aids in the production of neurons in the brain, and therefore improves brain function. This can make an even bigger difference as you get older and the production of neurons decreases.

There are links to health risks …

Happy senior couple in white on tropical beach

No matter how busy your life is, make sure you’re getting busy in the sheets. | Dmbaker/iStock/Getty Images

Probably the most terrifying thing about a lack of sex is it’s link to your heart’s health. Harvard Health points to a study revealing that cardiovascular health and sexual health are very intertwined. A lack of sex can reportedly be a sign of cardiovascular disease in men. For women, it has been linked to peripheral artery disease. Tip: The next time your doctor asks about your activity between the sheets, give a full report!

… but you can also have a healthy edge

A woman and man talking together while using an iPad.

Going through a dry spell? That has its benefits too! | Milkos/iStock/Getty Images Plus

This is a no-brainer, but it’s definitely worth pointing out. A break from sex means that your chances of getting a sexually transmitted disease are greatly lowered. That being said, you can still get an STI even if you aren’t having intercourse. (Think, those icky cold sores people get on their mouths.) Even if you are in a sexual rut, you should always be vigilant when it comes to keeping a clean bill of health.