True, no one has ever been rushed into the emergency room for having 'no sex for two months', but some studies suggest that too little sex or going without it for a prolonged period may cause harmful effects and leave you feeling less well than having an active sex life.
But is there any truth in the effect of reduced sexual activity on our overall wellbeing; or are the reports exaggerated?
Let's read on to find out:
Healthy sex is a recreational activity that we generally associate with satisfaction and fulfilment.
There is no prescription for regular sexual activity.
What suits one person may not be great for another.
There is also no evidence that regular sex is essential to be mentally or physically well.
But some studies suggest that some people who go without it for a prolonged period may be missing out on some benefits.
Let's consider what mutually satisfactory sexual activity essentially is - physical exertion (exercise) for which we don't need the gym or a physical trainer.
Benefits of Sex
Seriously, though, with sexual activity, you get the benefits of exercise, including:
- increasing blood flow to organs, boosting oxygen delivery
- increasing your lungs' capacity
- contributes to overall fitness and may help with weight loss
- contributes to a feeling of wellbeing - from sexual satisfaction and promoting intimacy.
- less likely to develop a traumatic injury as may happen with sporting activities
- release of brain chemicals (hormones) like Dopamine, Endorphins and Adrenaline which boost your mood, making you happy and optimistic.
So, the question is - if these are some of the benefits of sex, what could be the possible impact on you when sex is not a regular activity.
Harmful Effects of Infrequent Sex
Sex and Muscle activity
Your heart may not work correctly, causing problems like raised blood pressure.
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease like angina, can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
But also your body's other muscles get weak and flabby, you put on weight and become less (physically) fit as a result.
By having sex frequently, you may improve your general activity levels which makes you more motivated to try other forms of exercise - and your fitness.
Sex and Your Immune system
It may contribute to a weaker immune system if you have sexual desires but don't get satisfaction from expressing your desires.
How this works is not very clear - scientists generally believe that several factors and not just one, contribute to a well functioning immune system.
We know that sexual activity (like exercise,) can improve mental wellbeing and provides satisfaction. Scientists do link a healthy immune system with people who have a positive, happy outlook in life.
Sex and Your Mental Health
You may experience low mood, irritability or anxiety. Remember we said that sexual activity leaves a sense of fulfilment or feel good about yourself?
Well, there is a boost in self-esteem and positive self-image that comes from a positive sexual relationship which you may lose if you are not having sex often.
What about your memory? Some studies suggest that people who 'do it' more often are less forgetful than those who do not.
Sex builds intimacy in a relationship.
A couple may grow distant if they do not regularly have sex with each other.
Sex and Prostate Health
This next point emerged from a single study.
It showed that men who ejaculated less frequently are more likely to develop Prostate Cancer than those who have more frequent sex.
It certainly is NOT correct to say that lack of sex leads to Prostate cancer as there are many other conditions such as genetics, diet, etc. implicated.
Poor Sleep from Little Sex
Having sex helps you sleep better.
Evidence backs this up - some hormones known as Prolactin and Oxytocin get released during sexual activity which helps with sleep.
Insomnia or poor sleep pattern may be an outcome of infrequent sexual activity.
Could it affect your sexual performance?
It seems that not having sex may affect future sexual function.
In women, as they enter menopause, they produce less oestrogen.
Less oestrogen mean less lubrication for the tissues of the vagina causing dryness.
Studies comparing women who have more frequent sex suggest that they suffer less with dryness than those who don't.
Men aren't left out.
For some unclear reason, men who have intercourse less often may be more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those who don't.
So let's put all this together.
Infrequent sex may not be the ONLY condition that could impact your health negatively - but it could be a significant contributor to some of the effects mentioned above.
The most important takeaway here is not that you are worse off from lack of sex.
Instead, there are many benefits from a mutually satisfying sexual relationship contributing to your overall general health.
Editing by AskAwayHealth Team
All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising Medical Practitioners on a wide range of health care conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality health care. The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified health care practitioner.
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