For centuries, religious monastics, asexual folks, and many a spinster aunt have chosen to abstain and forgo sex, all likely for very different reasons. Many people don't know, though, what happens to their bodies when they don't have sex. Because dry spells usually affect everyone at some point in life, whether by choice or by circumstance, it can be helpful to know the possible toll such periods will have on overall health and well-being.
So what, besides frustration and longing, is the impact of abstinence on the human body? While there may be no threat of contracting an STD, the impact on our physiological and mental health can be quite profound, ranging from merely inconvenient to potentially life-threatening. But don't worry; going without sex probably won't kill you as long as you're aware of what's happening to your body and brain.
Keep reading to learn some interesting biological facts about abstinence and how your body changes when you stop having sex.
Your Immune System Isn't As Effective
Can going without actually make you sick? In a way, yes. Orgasms increase levels of a specific immunoglobulin - an antibody in the cells of the immune system. Known as IgA, this illness-fighter helps us fend off things like colds. Studies have found that having sex just once or twice a week can boost levels of IgA by as much as 30%. With less IgA in the immune system, the body has a far less effective response to battling illness and can struggle to remain healthy.
You May Get Depressed
The lingering effects of sexual satisfaction can be as good as any drug. Semen absorbed into the vaginal walls, for example, works as an antidepressant and the hormone prolactin is key in that post-coital relaxation. Sex also releases other feel-good chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin - all of which flood our brains in the hours after sex - that keep us feeling good and stave off depression. Without sex, we are more prone to plummeting moods and unpredictable behavior.
Your Vagina And/Or Anus Do Not Retighten
Despite what you may have heard, there is no biological way to become a virgin again and the whole idea that more sex results in looser vaginal walls is a myth. Dr. Jennifer Wider states that though "many people... assume that women who have less sex have tighter vaginas and women who have more sex have looser vaginas [it] is just a complete misconception." The anus, like the vagina, won't get stretched out with continued use, but the sphincter muscle inside the anus could potentially weaken. If you're opting for abstinence as a way to give your vagina or anus a break so they will return to some perceived state of tautness, that won't happen.
Your Libido Could Decrease
The science behind this one is not 100% agreed upon, but some researchers think that the less you engage your libido, the less often the hormonal response to sex is engaged. Without that more frequent engagement, the hormonal aspects of libido start to wane. Not only does increased sexual activity make you more confident in the act (because, in this case, practice does make perfect), the body also produces a consistent level of hormones when it knows to expect intercourse on a regular basis.