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PERSPECTIVES

5 Things That Can Happen to Your Body When You Don't Have Sex

by ANABELLE BERNARD FOURNIER
Published: NOVEMBER 4, 2016
Having sex is good for your health... but what if not having sex is actually bad for you?

Not having sex can suck. Like, really suck. Maybe you're going through a dry spell in your relationship or you're single and short of quality partners. Whatever the reason, forced abstinence isn't fun.

Plus, having regular sex is good for your health. It has all sorts of benefits, from increased serotonin and oxytocin levels to better cardiovascular endurance. You sleep better, you feel more relaxed and, more than anything else, it allows for intimate physical connection with another person.

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If you stop having sex, your body reacts to that too. Here are some of the things that happen to your body if you stop having sex for a while.

You Might Feel More Stressed

Sex is a stress inhibitor. The hormones released during sex help the body recover from stressful periods. That's why a regular dose of sexy time is especially beneficial for people with high-stress jobs. It's also why so many of us use sex as a way to blow off steam and decompress from our super-busy, anxiety-inducing lives.

If sex helps you cope with stress, what happens if you stop? Obviously, it will be harder to deal with your normal stress levels. A small study in Biological Psychology showed that people who had recently had sex had lower blood pressure in response to stressful events than people who hadn't gotten it on. (A little self-lovin' can go a long way here, though.)

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You Might Get Sick More Often

Regular sex is correlated with a better functioning immune system. In one study, participants who reported having sex regularly (at least once per week) were found to have higher levels of an important immunoglobin that is known to increase resistance to illnesses like the common cold. A strong immune system means you'll get sick less often, and when you do get sick, it won't take as long for you to feel better.

Your Libido Might Drop

Libido can be tricky for many people. They want to have sex, but they don't feel like it ... so they don't. However, the more you have sex, the more you want to have sex. This effect can make abstinence a little easier, but it'll also make getting back in the saddle more of a challenge. You can keep your engines humming by practicing some regular self care. (Read: 5 Ways to Spice Up Your Sex Life - With Yourself!)

Arousal Might Get Harder

When deprived of sex for long periods of time, men have a harder time getting - and staying - well, hard. Women may also struggle with arousal and lubrication after extended periods of abstinence. Regular friction is what keeps our juices flowing!

Masturbation can help, but so can going easy on yourself when you get back into sex. It might take a while to get back to your old self, and that's totally OK.

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You'll Be More Forgetful

Regular sexual activity boosts the function of your hippocampus, an area of the brain strongly linked to memory, according to research released in 2013. Scientists believe that increased sexual activity can even reverse the effects of aging and stress on the brain.

Basically, when you have sex often, your brain produces new neurons, which makes it better at remembering and processing information. The study also showed that when sex stops, the higher memory and cognitive functions were lost, despite the presence of new neurons. Say what? Fortunately, other forms of physical activity have been found to have similar effects.

The Positive Side of Celibacy

There are some advantages to having less sex. You won't have to worry about pregnancy or STIs, for one. Going without sex for a while can also create space to focus on other things. At some points in our lives, that space can be really important. When you're in a relationship, not having sex can also open up other avenues fo physical intimacy. Those can be as important as sex, and can help boost your sexual connection when you get back at it.

Have you ever felt any of these effects during long dry spells? Share your stories!

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Photo for Anabelle Bernard Fournier
Anabelle Bernard Fournier
Anabelle is a freelance writer hailing from Victoria, Canada. She loves to read, cook, and fantasize about getting a pet to keep her company during the day, and who will let her take hundreds of cute kitty pictures.

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