What Happens If You Stop Having Sex?

People go through dry spells in the bedroom for all kinds of reasons. Maybe they’re busy, or maybe they’re single. Or they might just decide they want a break.

If that break goes on long enough, though, it can have an effect on your body and some parts of your life. But it’s important to remember that there’s no “right” amount for everyone. What’s key is that you find what works best for you.

Anxiety and Stress

If you don’t have sex with your partner often, that may make you feel less connected to them, which can mean you don’t talk about your feelings much or get a lot of support in managing day-to-day stressors.

And sex makes your body release hormones, like oxytocin and endorphins, that can help you manage the effects of stress. Oxytocin has the added benefit of helping you sleep.

Memory

Research is in the early stages, but some studies have shown that people who have sex often are better at recalling memories. And there are signs that sex can help your brain grow neurons and work better in general.

Relationship Health

Regular sex helps you feel emotionally close to your partner, which opens the door to better communication. Couples who have sex more often tend to say they’re happier than those who get less of it.

But it doesn’t have to happen every day -- once a week seems to be enough. This seems to be true no matter your age or gender, or how long you’ve been in the relationship.

Immune System

Regular sex can help your body fight off illness, so having it less often might lead to more colds and the like. In one study, college students who had sex one to two times per week were shown to have higher levels of a certain antibody (called immunoglobulin A) that plays an important role in your immune system.

Vaginal Walls and Lubrication

If you’re a woman who’s gone through menopause, you have another reason to keep having sex. Without regular intercourse, your vagina can tighten and its tissues can get thinner and be more likely to get injured, tear, or even bleed during sex. This can be so uncomfortable that women with these symptoms avoid having sex, which can make it worse.

Having sex can also protect you from other changes related to menopause, like vaginal dryness and irritation. If you have any of these issues, talk to your doctor about lubricants, moisturizers, or low-dose estrogen.

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Prostate Cancer

For men, how often they have sex may be linked to their chances of prostate cancer, but the evidence is mixed. Some experts think that sex might actually raise your odds, by possibly exposing you to sexually transmitted diseases that lead to inflammation.

But in one large study of almost 30,000 men, those who said they ejaculated more than 21 times a month on average had lower chances of prostate cancer during their lifetimes, compared with those who ejaculated four to seven times a month.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on August 17, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

Anxiety.org: “Why Having More Sex May Lead to a Healthier Mind and Body.”

Kinsey Institute Research: “Frequent Sex is Linked to Better Memory.”

Society for Personality and Social Psychology: “Couples Who Have Sex Weekly Are Happiest.”

Psychological Reports: “Sexual Frequency and Salivary Immunoglobulin A (IgA).”

The North American Menopause Society: “Changes in the Vagina and Vulva,” “Vaginal and Vulvar Comfort," “Lubricants, Moisturizers, and Low-dose Vaginal Estrogen.”

Mayo Clinic: “Erectile Dysfunction.”

American Journal of Medicine: “Regular Intercourse Protects Against Erectile Dysfunction: Tampere Aging Male Urologic Study.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Does Sexual Activity Affect My Risk of Cancer?”

International Society for Sexual Medicine: “What is the “Normal” Frequency of Sex?"

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