Not enough sex? This is what happens to your vagina
People may think that going a long time is no big deal, and it could even be good for you. Well, we have news for you: it's not. Not enough sex can have negative effects on your health, physical and mental.
We know, we know, you're busy with bigger problems right now. You’ve got world problems (global politics! global warming!) and personal problems. But you can’t dismiss not enough sex as a tiny problem.
You know why? Two words: vaginal atrophy.
Vaginal what, you ask? Well, when you don't have enough sex, your vaginal walls can actually start to become thinner.
Hold up, you might be wondering, not enough sex can do that?
We do want to reassure you though. Vaginal atrophy is a treatable condition.
Who's at risk?
It can affect virtually any woman of age, but women on menopause are more susceptible to it because of the decrease in the body’s estrogen production.
Women who also underwent cancer treatment (especially breast cancer) may also be affected.
Symptoms of vaginal atrophy include itching, burning, difficulty peeing, discharge, and pain during sex. This is caused by the decrease in estrogen production.
Being sexually active is vital in avoiding vaginal atrophy since regular orgasms increase blood flow to the vagina and thus help relieve the symptoms mentioned.
The importance of having enough sex
Dr Louise Mazanti, a London-based sex therapist, said: "It is very important that we have a healthy sex life with a partner or with ourselves.”
Mazanti also explained that "People very often say, 'I don't have a sex life because I don’t have a partner.' But forget about that and have a sexual relationship with yourself. It's about using massage and touching the tissue so that it becomes alive, the blood flows and the tissue becomes elastic. It is really about exercising the tissue."
Mazanti warned that when cells don’t get enough oxygen, then they have trouble expelling waste. This can result in tissue inflammation and then vaginal atrophy.
The lack of constant blood flow prevents cells from getting vital nutrients, making the tissue thinner and weaker. They just become less healthy overall.
Mental health and not enough sex
The physical effects can also have a negative effect on a person’s mental health, according to Mazanti. She added, "When your ability to have sex and your desire to have sex decreases, it is a massive change in identity.
"You start to question 'Who am I now if I am not the sexual woman I used to be?'
"It can cause depression and an identity crisis and deep consideration of an existential nature."
A study in 2001 revealed that if you’ve had sex before and now you’re not for extended periods of time, you are more (understandably) prone to disappointment and depression.
Effects of not enough sex
There are a lot of benefits to sex, and an equal number of effects when you're not getting enough of it. We've listed down what happens when you're in a dry spell (enforced or otherwise).
1. You're not getting "tighter"
Abstaining from sex doesn’t make you “tighter” or in any way healthier. It’s a myth. This sensation of tightness is not influenced by the number of sexual partners you’ve had. Also, the hymen doesn’t grow back, no matter what you’ve heard from hushed conversations in school or at work.
If you do return to having sex after a long time of not doing it, you may find your vagina kind of tense. That’s because the tissues of the vagina may have gotten out of the habit of relaxing in response to arousal or insertion. So they will need to be re-acclimated and coached back into relaxing during sex. They remember, though, so don’t worry.
2. A weaker immune system
Sex is good for you, no doubt about it. Sexual activity releases a wide array of hormones that help boost your immune system. For women, the changes that this causes can make it easier to get pregnant. So if you’re not getting busy on a regular basis, you’re not getting the benefits of an enhanced immune system.
3. Prone to stress
Regular sexual activity can relieve stress, and the lack of it is correlated to higher stress reactions. Some studies revealed that people with no regular sexual activities have higher blood pressure spikes in response to stress compared to people have had sex recently.
4. Poorer cardiovascular health
A healthy sex life has a strong correlation to improved cardiovascular health, so not enough sex can deprive you of the hormonal and aerobic improvements it provides.
There are many studies surrounding how sex affects the heart, but not a lot about how a lack of sex affects the heart. It’s possible that it has everything to do with physical activity and elevated heart rate.
5. Taking longer to get wet
Regular sex trains your sexual organs for the act itself, and going for along time without it means it takes longer for them to “start up.”
Sex experts (sexperts?) point out that the lubrication process of arousal (“becoming wet”) benefits from regularity and if you stop for a long while, it becomes more difficult to get to the lubrication process.
6. Drastically lowering the risk of STDs and UTIs (and babies)
This is simply logical. And probably the only good news here in this list. The less sex you have, the lower your chances of getting STDs and UTIs and babies. It’s a verifiable fact. This isn’t just isolated to penetrative sex, though. You can still get various STDs and UTIs from nonsexual contact so keep that in mind.
7. Doesn't make you smarter
Maybe you’ve heard it all before from older generations: “Abstinence makes you smarter.” Well, Marjorie, not quite. Scientists have already proven that sexual activity boosts neuron growth in the brain's hippocampus.
Get enough sex
So before you go into a self-imposed exile from a healthy sex life, think about what you could be missing out on. Now, not enough sex isn't necessarily bad, but having none at all can have a negative impact on your health. Besides, which would you rather be keen on doing to keep you health, going to the gym or having sex?