Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’, every Friday. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.
The column is being written by Sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In today’s column, Dr Jain explains the importance of sex in a relationship and what happens if you stop having sex.
Sex is a healthy, loving act that strengthens the bond between partners. It’s a way to deepen a romantic relationship and experience pleasure in a consensual and special way. Office engagement, tension and increased control of technology over our lives are some of the reasons that are reducing the urge to have sex. In the beginning, this shortage is shaky, but soon we adjust to it and gradually we do not really feel the need for sex. Sex, however, plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy relationship. It is not just about physical needs, it’s also about emotional well-being.
We are all aware that sex gives us pleasure. And when our body receives pleasure, it releases happy hormones like dopamine that relaxes our mind. It has a soothing effect that not just relieves physical pain, but also helps in lowering stress and anxiety. However, if you restrict your body from having sex or lose your sex drive, it can have negative effects. Here are eight things that can happen when you stop having sex.
1. You Will be Stressed More Often
Sexual activity is a big stress buster. That’s because of the release of endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters, and certain other hormones, like dopamine and serotonin. The hormones released during sexual activity play an important role in lifting your mood, and making you happy. Oxytocin released during an orgasm is known to have positive effects on emotional health. In the absence of sex, the hormones that make relationships stronger are no longer released by your body, making your life stressful and exhausting.
2. Your Immune System May Get Weaker
Having no sex can also impact the immunity levels of your body. When you have sex, there is a sudden surge of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in your body, which helps fight viruses. When you stop having sex, there is almost negligible release of immunoglobulin and due to that you fall prey to diseases like flu, cough, seasonal fever, etc. People who had sex more than twice a week had higher levels of IgA than those who had no sex.
3. You Might Sleep Less
Without sex, you’ll miss out on the hormones that promote restful sleep, like prolactin and oxytocin. Women also get an estrogen boost. The reverse is true, too. If you decide you want to start having sex again, a good night’s sleep is just the thing to keep you from feeling frisky.
4. You Will Feel a Change in Your Sexual Response
It has been seen that when people tend to avoid having sex due to any reason, their sex drive drops automatically. They don’t feel an orgasm, or an urge for sex – no action, no reaction.
5. Your Risk of Prostate Cancer Could Increase
The reasons aren’t exactly clear, but in at least one study, men who ejaculated less than seven times a month were more likely to get prostate cancer compared to those who did it at least 21 times a month. But unprotected anonymous sex and with multiple partners can also raise your chances of getting the disease, so when you do have sex, take care.
6. You May Become Less Focused and Creative
When you have sex or when you have an orgasm, the neurotransmitters light up your entire brain, enhancing its overall functioning. And that improves your focus, creativity and productivity. In some cases, it helps boost your memory too.
7. You Could Have Sexual Problems
It may seem odd, but ‘use it or lose it’ may apply here. For women at menopause, vaginal tissue can get thin, shrink and dry out without regular intercourse. That can make sex painful and weaken your desire. And some research say that men who have sex less than once a week are twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction (ED) than those who have it weekly.
8. Your Relationship’s Health Will be Compromised
When you stop having sex, you may notice physical, mental and emotional changes in your body, but you may not be the only one affected. A sexual pause can also take a toll on your partner. It’s all connected: the health of one’s relationship can affect one’s physical health too.
Resuming Sex after a Long Pause May be Challenging
Unless you’ve taken a vow of celibacy, it’s likely there will be a time when you’ll want to and/or be able to start having sex again. However, it’s possible that your time away from sex has had an impact on your sex drive. Your libido may be lower in the absence of sex. However, this issue can reverse itself.
If you are not having sex regularly, ask yourself why. Sometimes seeing a sex therapist may be the best way to work through your relationship and personal issues.