Lifelong celibacy is a different prospect than experiencing sex and then stopping it. If you’ve had sex before and now you aren’t, then you’re understandably more prone to disappointment and depression, as a 2001 study found. However, the impacts of not having sex for a while goes beyond mental annoyance and longing. Celibacy has effects on your body, but they’re hardly life-threatening, and they definitely aren’t going to get in the way of your next sexual adventure.
According to 2016 research, millennials are having less sex than any generation since the 1920s. This could be a bad thing for a few reasons:
- sex with your partner is fun, and you should be having as much of it as you can, and
- they’re all missing out on the many well-documented health benefits of having sex.
Effects of not having sex for a while:
1. Your rhythm gets thrown off the next time you have sex.
You remember that old saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it?” Science suggests that to a degree, that might be true. A 2008 study in the American Journal of Medicine concluded that men in their 50s, 60s, and 70s that weren’t sexually active were more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. This makes some sense: on an intellectual level, navigating all those arms and legs and erogenous zones can get pretty confusing, so imagine trying to navigate the core mechanics of intercourse after months and months of not having sex at all. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: even if you don’t have a partner, the research suggests ejaculating regularly can help alleviate some of these effects.
2. Men Are More Likely To Have Erectile Dysfunction
This is an interesting discovery, but possibly not one that’s welcome if you’re a dude who’s not getting busy regularly. Abstinence seems to increase the likelihood of erectile dysfunction in men. The studies on this tend to focus on older men, but they’re all united in the conclusion that regular sexual activity has a positive effect on a man’s erections. Use it or lose it, as it were. (There’s also a possibility that regular ejaculations might help a man avoid prostate cancer. But, you know, you can have those on your own.)
3. Your blood pressure can spike.
A great night of getting involved with your partner can make literally everything else in the world feel better. Even if your boss won’t stop breathing down your neck, or if you’re under a bunch of deadlines, you’re consistently getting involved, so all of that stuff seems super manageable.
Science says that’s not a coincidence. In fact, a 2006 study in the medical journal Biological Psychology found that people who were having regular sex had lower levels of blood pressure than those who weren’t.
4. You get more stressed out.
This is another of those cases in which the link between positives (regular sex and stress-busting) becomes a negative (no sex and higher stress reactions). Small studies have found that people who haven’t had regular sexual intercourse have higher blood pressure spikes in response to stress than people who have recently gotten laid. In particular, if you’ve been used to the stress-lowering pluses of sex, then its absence may not have a good impact on your general ability to cope with anxious moments.
Apparently, there’s a scientific reason for that. Neuroscientist, Dr. Debra W. Soh said in an interview with Men’s Health that during orgasm, “endorphins are released that can help to improve your mood,” she says. “So, if you tend to use sex as a way of coping with stress, a dry spell can be doubly frustrating.”
5. Your immune system gets weaker.
Orgasms are incredibly beneficial to your immune system, as psychologists Carl Charnetski and Francis Brennan Jr. found. They conducted a study where they asked patients who were having sex once or twice a week to provide saliva samples. Those samples were found to contain an extremely high concentration of the common-cold busting antibody immunoglobulin A. Who knew that extremely close contact was a net-positive in terms of preventing illness?
6. Your work performance might slip.
Most dry spells have two parts: the part where you’re insanely turned on by even a slightly curvaceous frying pain; and the part where you’re down in the dumps and can’t even be motivated to get off the couch. Apparently, that can even spill over into your employee satisfaction. An Oregon State University study found that couples with an active sex life were much happier at work.
7. You Drastically Lower Your Risk Of UTIs And STDs
At last, some good news. The STD part may not come as a surprise, but UTIs (urinary tract infections) are often caused by the transfer of bacteria to the urinary tract during sex (particularly from the anus). So a sex-free (not having sex for a while) life will keep you secure. You can, however, get various STDs and UTIs from nonsexual contact, so you’re not completely out of the woods.