Ask any sexually active person or a couple you know and they’ll tell you that dry spells in the bedroom are quite common and natural. It could last a few weeks or a few months and there are a number of reasons why people who’ve had sex – even regular sex – stop or take a break. It could be because of ill health, being too busy or stressed, a dip or cold period in the relationship or because you’re on medications that interfere with your libido.
Whatever the reason and the exact duration of abstinence (it’s subjective after all) may be, not having sex for a long-ish duration of time can have an effect on your health. The following are some of the things you may notice when you stop having sex.
- Your stress levels may increase
Sexual activity increases the release of endorphins and oxytocin in the body. These are not just hormones but also neurotransmitters that help regulate stress, mood and sleep. Not having sex may reduce endorphin and oxytocin release in the body, which in turn can shoot up your stress levels. You may also experience irritability and have problems sleeping. Physical exercise or getting a massage may help you boost your endorphin and oxytocin levels during your dry spell.
- You might have vaginal problems
Might sound strange but if you’re a woman who stopped having sex after having it regularly for a while, there might be some unexpected physical changes in your vagina. The vaginal walls may tighten, which is not a bad thing by itself. But when you get back to having sex after a long break, you may experience vaginal pain, tears or even bleeding due to these stiff muscles. Doing pelvic floor exercises and masturbating during your dry spell may reduce the likelihood of this happening.
- Your immune system may weaken
Having sex is linked with improved immunity, especially because studies have shown that those who have sex may have increased levels of immunoglobulin A in their bodies. Immunoglobulin A, or IgA, is an antibody which helps fight off infections – even viral ones like the common cold. When you stop having sex, the IgA concentration in your body may reduce. You could maintain a healthy diet, get enough exercise and consult a doctor about supplementation to overcome this issue.
- It may hurt your heart health
Having regular sex gives your body a hormonal as well as an aerobic boost. Sexual activity is considered to be a good form of cardio exercise and is linked with improved cardiovascular health. It is, therefore, logical to assume that when you stop having sex, for no matter how short or long a period of time, it can have a negative impact on your heart health. There is, however, not enough research to show just what type of effect abstinence from sex has on heart health. On the other hand, if you become more active by taking up jogging or gymming, abstinence from sex may not have any ill effect on your heart at all.
- Your risk of UTIs and STIs may decrease
Having sex with multiple partners, not having safe or protected sex, and other practices may increase your risk of contracting urinary tract infections (UTIs) and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While the risk of UTIs may still remain high, especially if you use public toilets, hold your pee for long periods of time or do not clean your genitals properly, the same may not be said about STIs. Lower risk of STIs is one of the benefits of your dry spell.