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Side Effects of Abstinence in Females – Should You Worry?

September 4, 2020

True, no one has ever been rushed into the emergency room for having “no sex for two months”, but some studies suggest that the side effects of abstinence in females may be significant and leave you feeling less well than having an active sex life.

But how true is this? Is there any truth in the effect of reduced sexual activity on our overall well-being, or are the reports exaggerated?

Like exercise, sexual activity has many benefits

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 well-being – 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?

Side Effects of Abstinence

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, which can lead to heart attacks or strokes.

 But also your body’s other muscles get weak and flabby, and 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.

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 well-being and provide satisfaction. Scientists do link a healthy immune system with people who have a positive, happy outlook in life.

Mental Health

You may experience low mood, irritability or anxiety. Remember we said that sexual activity leaves a sense of fulfilment or feeling 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. Learn more here about how sex and depression are linked.

Poor Sleep

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.

Effect on Future 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 means less lubrication for the tissues of the vagina, causing dryness.

Studies comparing women who have more frequent sex suggest that they suffer less from vaginal dryness than those who don’t.

Men aren’t left out when it comes to the side effects of abstinence.

For some unclear reason, men who have intercourse less often may be more likely to develop erectile dysfunction than those who don’t. But – that’s another story!

Summing Up

So let’s put all this together. Some people may observe some side effects from abstinence, but this alone cannot lead to future ill health.

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.

More Reading:

Editing by AskAwayHealth Team


All AskAwayHealth articles are written by practising  Medical Practitioners on a wide range of healthcare conditions to provide evidence-based guidance and to help promote quality healthcare. 

The advice in our material is not meant to replace the management of your specific condition by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
To discuss your condition, please contact a health practitioner or reach us directly

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Askawayhealth aims to deliver reliable and evidence based women's health, family health and sexual health information in a way that is easily relatable and easy for everyone to access.

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