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?
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 …
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
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 …
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
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 …
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
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.