If you’re going through a period of sexual abstinence, then beware. Your vagina is going to grow cobwebs, tumbleweeds will roll across your pelvic floor, and nobody will be able to get into your intimate bits again without a crowbar and a sacrificial goat. Oh wait, except none of that is true. There are physical consequences of going a while without sex, but many of them are basically negatively focused, which means you’re simply not getting the health benefits sex usually brings. Which sucks, I know, but you are not going to freeze up, grow a new hymen, be incapable of ever going near another person’s sexual organs again, or drop dead unexpectedly of sexual frustration.
Lifelong celibacy is a different prospect than experiencing sex and then stopping it. (Yes, scientists do study celibate people. The Nun Study, which looks at the health of a 600-strong group of American nuns, has been ongoing since 1986.) 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. But the impacts do go 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.
Here are nine things that happen to your body after you stop having sex. Most of them aren’t great, but they also aren’t going to kill you. It’s all good.
1. No, You Won’t Get “Tighter”
Abstaining from sex does not make you “tighter.” That’s an urban myth. The sensation of tightness in your vagina is not influenced by your number of sexual partners, and taking an enforced break doesn’t re-virginize you. And your hymen doesn’t grow back, no matter what you may have heard in the bathrooms in middle school. However, the tissues of the vagina may get out of the habit of relaxing in response to arousal or insertion, and may then need to be coached back into it the next time you have sex. Don’t worry; they’ll remember.
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 having a bit of time off from intercourse. 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 Immune System Becomes More Vulnerable
It seems as if sexual activity actually contributes positively to your body’s immune function. (In women, these changes appear to be geared toward making it easier to get pregnant.) The flip side, unfortunately, is that if you’re not getting busy regularly, then you’re not getting those benefits, and you may be more prone to illnesses and infections that your immune system would otherwise block. 38
4. Your Libido Might Drop
Sex deprivation significantly reduces your libido, which makes you want less and less sex over time.