It turns out that sex has a greater impact on your body than just a few moments of pleasure and pregnancy. It affects your brain function, mental health and overall sexual presence.
On the flip side, abstaining from sex after you've given yourself a taste (celibacy excluded) can have some profound effects on your body, too.
Of course, you lower your risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy—obvious upsides—but you may not find these other consequences as thrilling.
Keep reading to see these not-so-fun effects of going a while without a sexual partner.
And before you get skeptical: no, this isn't some weird research compiled by a men to coax women into being more promiscuous. Each of these side effects of periodic abstinence has merit from sexual health experts or scientific studies.
If you've switched up your regular sex routine—either due to a loss of a partner or a choice to abstain—your sex drive may experience a massive change. The catch, though, is that you may feel a dip in your libido, or it might grow!
“For some people who refrain from sex, they begin to feel more sluggish, with less vitality and hunger for sex,” says Sari Cooper, LCSW, certified sex therapist, to Reader's Digest. “Out of sight out of mind is how some of my clients describe the scenario.”
But for others, a lack of sexual activity can lead to overthinking about it, increasing your arousal as you long for what you're missing. You really never know what you've got until it's gone, in this case.
Contrary to the myth you've definitely heard, abstaining from sex won't make a vagina 'tighter'. The width of your vaginal canal has nothing to do with the notches on your bed post, and staying clear of penetration won't make you a virgin again.
Though you may have to re-train your vaginal tissue to relax during sex once you hop back on the saddle (allowing for pleasure rather than pain), your lady parts will remember how it's done.
What can happen during a dry spell is that your vaginal walls can weaken over time, particularly in women entering menopause. This thinning of the walls, called vaginal atrophy, can result in painful sex and a slew of other health issues. This doesn't mean you have to go out and find a new partner for your vagina's sake; you can always take control of things by yourself!
As regular sex is linked to a decrease in stress, you know what that means for those who've loved and lost.
Small studies have found that people who haven't engaged in regular sexual intercourse have higher blood pressure spikes brought on by stress than those who have felt the joy of recent orgasms. So if you have regular sex and feed off this stress-busting perk, your body may have trouble dealing with stressful or anxious moments when you aren't getting laid.
This isn't true across the board, through. "For some women sex is actually stressful for a variety of reasons: It may be painful, or it could be one more thing on their to-do list,” Dr. Lauren Streicher, MD, told Reader's Digest.
Engaging in regular sex is a way to train your body on how to respond (and up your pleasure!). For women, part of this means your vagina produces some natural lubrication to prepare for smoother penetration.
Sexual health experts say that the lubrication process of arousal gets more stable from regularity. This means that if you abstain for a while, it'll be harder for your body to get back into that habit.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix when you're ready to jump back in for some bedroom play. Just grab a silicone-based lubricant to make sure your first round in a while is pleasurable! In fact, go ahead and use all of these tweaks to ensure it's a great time.
Two studies have shown that sexual activity boosts neuron growth in the brain's hippocampus, the control room of emotion and memory. It's worth mentioning that these studies were conducted with rodents, not humans.
Though this doesn't exactly prove that the most intelligent people are those who 'get it on' frequently, it's interesting research that warrants further experiments.
And as Bustle put it, "Just because you've suddenly become immensely productive and completed a crossword for the first time in six weeks doesn't mean your brain's improving. Alas, it probably just means you're bored."
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