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Sexless in The City

In a world of couples, being without a sex partner can be disheartening. You may be an involuntary celibate. But don't give up hope.

Sex Life on Hold continued...

When this is the case, she says, getting to the root of what's really making you feel so bad can have some magical effects on your sex life.

"As you start feeling better about yourself, you may be very surprised to discover how many others are feeling better about you as well -- suddenly all those missed opportunities of the past come full circle and you have another chance," she says.

While the desire for that warm, fuzzy, intimate, and, yes, sexual relationship is a healthy one, it's also important to recognize that you can be happy and healthy without one.

"I think many people who don't have an intimate partner, or even any sex in their life, feel bad because they judge themselves and their life by society's definition of happiness -- a definition that often includes being part of a couple," says Dennis Sugrue, PhD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and past president of the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

Happy and Healthy Without a Sex Life

But if you put society's definition on hold, Sugrue contends you might find you are perfectly happy living without sex in your life.

"If you want a sexual relationship and you don't have one, that's one thing -- but if you are unhappy because society makes you feel abnormal or unhealthy without a sex life, then don't be swayed by that argument -- as long as you feel good about your life, that's all that counts," says Sugrue.

Certainly, a healthy sexual relationship can have some important mental and physical benefits. Studies show that when you connect with another person on a physically intimate level, and particularly when you reach orgasm, you generate a cascade of biochemical reactions that can not only give you a natural high, it may yield some lasting health benefits, boosting your immune system and even helping you cope with pain.

But Sugrue reminds us that at least some of these same biochemical advantages can be had through masturbation, and it's possible to garner at least some feelings of gratification and self-fulfillment from other types of relationships and activities in your life.

"Being celibate, whether voluntary or involuntary, does not preclude you from living a happy, creative, or fulfilled life," says Sugrue.

More importantly, all three experts agree that if being in a sexual relationship is something you truly want, it can be well within your reach.

"There is almost no celibacy problem that can't be effectively dealt with and improved upon -- no one has to suffer alone, about being alone -- because there are ways to deal with whatever problem is standing between you and what you want in life," says Luloff.

If you find yourself among those who are sexless in the city -- or anywhere else -- our experts suggest finding a therapist that makes you feel comfortable talking about sex, even if he or she is not a sex therapist.

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