Sophie Cullinane | Features Editor | Thursday, 16 April 2015

Ask An Adult: What Happens If You Don’t Have Sex For Ages?

Ask An Adult: What Happens If You Don’t Have Sex For Ages?

The Debrief: You hope it will never happen to you, but what actually happens when you don't get laid for ages?

I once didn’t have sex for a year, out of choice. Well, sort of.  Did I choose to have my heart so catastrophically damaged by a ‘casual-relationship’ that lasted the best part of a decade that I wanted to crawl inside my own vagina and die? Well, obviously no, I didn’t.  But did it spur me on to make an active decision not to engage in any kind of a sexual relationship with anyone until I was sufficiently ‘mended’? Yes! Yes, I really bloody did!

The year I spent without sex was, for the most part, one of the smartest things I’ve ever done for myself and I wouldn’t take it back for anything in the world, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t also a bit of a nightmare. Every day, a litany of alarming and utterly unwelcome questions would screech through my head and disrupt the normal ebb and flow of my day. Was I doing the right thing? Was I doing myself harm, mentally or physically? What affect would it have on my body? Was I ever going to be able to actually do it again? Would it mess up my sex drive forever?

I’ve been back off the wagon (on the bike?) for a few years now, but as my gift to you my sexless sister, I asked the experts and girls who have gone through it themselves to answer some of the questions that were bothering me when I wasn’t getting any. Read on and remember: everything is going to be OK.

Will I be driven absolutely mad by sex thoughts?

‘At first things can be difficult because, inevitably, your thoughts keep returning to the last time you had sex,’ explains 32 year-old engineer Emma, who didn’t have sex for three years after breaking up with her long-term boyfriend in her mid-20s.

‘I would count down the days, weeks and months since I last had sex with my ex and I would feel tormented by the memory of it. I’d get mental pictures of us going at it whenever I had a moment by myself – every bus journey or lull at work would basically be a “guided tour” to every blowjob I ever gave to him. For the first six months, I masturbated furiously.

‘But out of sight really is out of mind and things, inevitably, got easier and easier the longer I left it until I didn’t really think about sex at all, which meant I wasn’t so bothered. But it also gave me time to concentrate on other things like my job and actually going out and having a good time with my friends. That might sound mad to you, but it was really really nice. I promise!’

Will my sex drive be ruined forever?

‘With the libido, there is a school of thought that suggests the more you feed it the more insatiable it becomes,’ says psychologist Dr Susannah Lee. ‘That is backed up by people who’ve had sex addictions and who feel compelled to have more and more sex to feed their growing “immunity” to it, although I’m not convinced that the reverse occurs when you stop having sex.

‘You might have stopped having sex as a decision – in which case you may see a decrease in your sex drive because you’ve actively chosen to supress it – but you might have stopped having sex by no decision of your own, in which case there’s no reason why your desire should be lessened.

‘Regardless, our sex drives change many times over the course of our lives and any dip in yours is certainly reversible. If you’re concerned, perhaps consider some conversational therapy or changing your contraception.’

Can it mess up my hormones?

‘When we have sex, we experience a rush of the pleasure neurohormones oxytocin and vasopressin,’ says Dr Lonsdale, a GP. ‘An orgasm basically has a similar effect on the brain as any kind of addictive substance which deliver strong highs – they’re often followed by catastrophic lows because what goes up must come down.

‘When you stop having sex, you’ll leave this high/low cycle, which might actually make you feel at a greater equilibrium. As for your ordinary hormonal cycle, it shouldn’t be affected by a prolonged period of abstinence and you won’t affect your fertility.’

Will I have gotten any tighter?

‘The idea that your vagina gets tighter or looser depending on the number of people you’ve had sex with is a complete urban myth and the reasons your vagina can get more lax are varied – including putting on a significant amount of weight which puts pressure on your pelvic floor. No one will ever be able to tell how many people you've slept with by looking at your vagina,’ explains Dr Lonsdale.

‘If you’re giving up sex in the hope that your vagina will become tighter, you will be disappointed.  The only way that can happen is with regular pelvic floor-strengthening exercises.’

Will I ever be able to do it again?

I can help with this one: yes. It can be insanely intimidating getting back into a sexual relationship after a long hiatus – I actually even completely forgot how to flirt, it was horrifying – which is why it’s so important that you choose the person who eventually gets you back on the wagon carefully. I was absolutely bricking it when me and my best mate of 15 years got completely pissed and it suddenly dawned on me that we might actually have sex, but I trusted him implicitly and I knew that – even if I’d completely forgotten how the hell to do it – he’d never judge me or make me feel like the bumbling fool I felt like in my head.

As it turns out, it was probably up there with the best sex I’ve ever had in my life. Maybe it was down to luck, maybe it was because we’d had 15 years of built up sexual tension, or maybe because when you throw a starving man a cracker, he’ll think it’s the best fucking cracker the world has ever created, but all I know is I came.

Five times.

If that’s not reason enough to consider having a bit of a break from shagging, I don’t know what is.

Liked this? You might also be interested in: 

An Ode To Veeting Your Vagina, By A Bald Convert 

Do You Burst Into Tears After Sex? Maybe You’ve Got Post-Coital Tristesste

How To Have A One Night Stand, Safely 

Follow Sophie on Twitter @Sophiecullinane 

Picture: Francesca Allen 

Tags: Sex, Sex O\'Clock, Sex Ed, Ask An Adult