Sex is great. It feels good, it’s healthy and it generally perks up your day. Until you’re not having it. You might have just had a terrible break-up and don’t feel ready to get yourself out there, or maybe you’re taking some time off, for medical reasons or just out of choice.
No matter what the reason, you’re faced with the prospect of a sex drought. So what could you expect to happen to you? If anything? Will you be able to cope?
With the help of Dr Mark Lawton from the the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV, we give you the lowdown on what happens to your body when you’re not getting any.
1) Nope, your vagina will not get tighter
Nope, you will not become revirginalised.. And nope, your hymen will definitely not grow back. Any tightness felt when you start having sex again is a relaxation issue, says Dr Mark Lawton.
‘It’s important that you relax when you have sex. If you don’t, the muscles can tense up which makes sex painful,’ he says. ‘You may well be anxious about having sex if you haven’t had it in a while, which can lead to tension that can make it uncomfortable.’ So basically, relax, lots of foreplay and lube and it’ll be like you never stopped having sex in the first place.
2) You might feel more depressed and anxious
|You could feel a bit down in the dumps (Picture: Liberty Antonia Sadler for Metro.co.uk)|
Sex isn’t just something that feels good in the moment – it can make you feel good all day long. It’s well known that the release of endorphins during and after love-making improves your mood and makes you less stressed. So, when you stop, you will no longer benefit from that release.
‘Certainly sex releases endorphins and happy hormones that give a sense of wellbeing that you might no longer get,’ says Dr Lawton. ‘From a psychological point of view, someone might feel a responsibility to have sex – they feel that they should be having it.
‘If they are not, that could also lead to a low mood.’
Some small studies found that people who have regular intercourse had better stress responses than those who just masturbated, or had sex without penetration.
‘Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile–vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity,’ is the way the study put it. ‘Penile–vaginal intercourse but not other sexual behaviour is associated with better psychological and physiological function,’ concluded Stuart Brody of the University of Paisley.
The way the study was conducted? The doc had couples engage in two weeks of either penile-vaginal intercourse, masturbation or sex with no penetration. Then at the end of the fortnight, he made them do public speaking and verbal maths tests. Yes. He really did this.
When their blood pressure was measured, the ones who’d had penile-vaginal intercourse were found to have better stress responses than the masturbators or those on the group who did everything but penile-vaginal sex.
3) Decreased risk of STIs and UTIs
|No more pain (Picture: Getty)|
Your risk of sexually transmitted diseases will decrease dramatically if you stop having sex. Funnily enough. Women who also know the excruciating, burning pain of urinary tract infections can rejoice in knowing their chances of developing them decrease too, with sex being a main cause.
If it’s simply penetrative sex that’s off the table and you’re still engaging in some kind of sexual activity, like oral for example, you still have to take precautions though. Only in March, BASHH was warning about the rise of STIs because we aren’t careful enough when it comes to oral sex.
4) Libido drop
|You just might not feel like it (Picture: Getty)|
Some good news for those worrying about being haunted by sexual frustration. Your sex drive it turns out is likely to drop anyway when you stop having regular sex as you won’t be experiencing the same rush of hormones.
Men, for example, will have lower testosterone levels in their body if they have less sex. ‘Having sex raises testosterone levels in the body, which increases libido and leads to more sexual desire,’ explains Dr Lawton.
‘Lower testerone levels in the body means lower desire.’
5) And therefore erectile dysfunction
The drop in testosterone in the body ‘could lead to erectile dysfunction’ according to Dr Lawton. There have even been studies into it, with this one finding that men who had sex less than once a week were twice more likely to have problems getting an erection.
6) But don’t worry – it’s usually a confidence thing
Dr Lawton emphasises that just because you’re struggling to get back in the sack, it doesn’t mean you should ‘write yourself off’. It’s often the fear and anxiety of having sex again after a long period of time that can cause sexual dysfunction for both men and women – erectile problems for men and vaginal tightness or dryness for women.
‘Psychologically, it’s the stress of thinking about it and having sex again that results in these issues,’ says Dr Lawton. ‘At my clinic, we get more older people who have lost a partner or gone through a divorce who are out there trying to date again and might have lost some confidence.
‘You shouldn’t write yourself off. If you have any issues, you should see your GP.’
- Metro, UK