Whether you choose celibacy or it chooses you, at some point, our bodies go through a phase of not having any sex. And there are definitely benefits to that, like more time to stalk people on Instagram, fewer UTIs, and think of all the laundry detergent you’ll save not washing your sheets all the time! But there things about a dry spell that aren’t so great for your body.
Here are five physical changes your body undergoes when you stop getting busy:
Change In Libido
“For some people who refrain from sex, they begin to feel more sluggish, with less vitality and hunger for sex,” Sari Cooper, LCSW, certified sex therapist tells Readers’ Digest. “Out of sight out of mind is how some of my clients describe the scenario.” For some, losing sex means a loss of sexual desire, but others get thirstier.
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“You might not be thinking about it as much, or you might be thinking about it all the time,” says Lauren Streicher, MD, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever. She tells Reader’s Digest, “It’s really variable.”
“When people have sex they’re usually having skin-to-skin contact, and this kind of contact is the first primal way we as humans get comforted [as babies with our mothers],” Cooper says. “Sexual connection gives partners loads of skin-to-skin caressing and touch, and can help to regulate one another’s moods,” — through the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Weakened Vaginal Walls
There is a condition called vaginal atrophy that is as bad as it sounds. It occurs when decreased blood flow to the nether regions causes the vaginal wall to thin. Fun! Because the vagina is just like any other muscle, it withers without use. Turns out, having sex on the regular doesn’t just feel good, helps the skin glow and keeps you living longer (up to 8 years!), it keeps your vagina in working order.
According to the Mayo Clinic, “Sexual activity, with or without a partner, increases blood flow and makes your vaginal tissues more elastic.” If this isn’t the best excuse to start giving yourself daily orgasms, nothing is.
Intensified Period Pains
Having regular sex can have a wonderful effect on cramps and other pains associated with menstruation. Losing sex as a (fun) pain relief just means those pains will return, and might even feel intensified if it’s been awhile since you noticed them. Says Dr. Streicher, “The uterus is a muscle and many women will actually have a uterine contraction when they orgasm, which will cause the blood to expel more quickly, which will in turn decrease menstrual cramps. Also, there may be an increase in endorphins, which also will help with menstrual cramps.”
It’s not uncommon to feel more stressed out once you lose your regular sex buddy. “People who are less stressed tend to have more sex, but again it’s an association, not cause and effect,” Dr. Streicher says, adding, “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.”
For even more interesting ways your body changes (for better or worse) when you take up celibacy (intentionally or not), head over to Reader’s Digest.