Has it been a little while since you’ve danced the mattress mambo? Don’t fret – it’s pretty unlikely you’ll forget how to do it or become so sex obsessed you start flirting uncontrollably with the postman (unless you feel like it), but a sex drought can cause noticeable changes in your mood and body.
1. You might feel stressed out
If you’re prone to anxiety, you may have found that the old in-out helps keep niggling thoughts and nerves at bay. That's because sex triggers the release of oxytocin and endorphins, and these feel-good hormones help fend off anxiety and depression. You don’t have to climax to feel the benefits, but popping your cookies will trigger the biggest surge of these helpful hormones.
The good news is, you don’t have to be having sex with someone to keep your happy hormones at a healthy level. Seize the opportunity to switch up your sexy self-care routine and have some solo fun. If you don’t feel like sex at all, make sure you’re doing other things to boost your mood, like spending time with friends, exercising and upping your intake of vitamin D.
2. You can lose confidence
If you haven’t had sex in a while, it’s possible you’ll feel a little apprehensive about doing it again for the first time. And while the first time may not be the best sex you’ve ever had, you’ll be back in the saddle before you know it. Spend plenty of time on foreplay, and if you feel comfortable enough to, let your partner know you’re feeling nervous. Masturbating can come in pretty handy (excuse the pun) here too. A ménage à moi can help you to feel sexy and empowered in your own skin, and that confidence can help keep the nerves at bay when you’re getting it on with someone else.
3. You might feel unwell
Researchers have found that sex helps to trigger higher levels of immunoglobulin, an antibody that boosts the body's natural defences. That means, if you’re not having it on the regs you might need to give that sniffly colleague a wide berth and stock up on tissues.
4. Sex might be painful
Studies have revealed that, during the menopause, the walls of the vagina thin and weaken, meaning sex can be painful and there’s also a lack of natural lubricant. Arousal increases blood flow to your intimate areas, so the best way to avoid these uncomfortable symptoms is to actually have sex. Using a good quality water-based lubricant like super nourishing Sliquid Sea before penetration and a vaginal moisturiser afterwards can really help.
5. You might lose your sex drive
Those happy hormones have a lot of answer for. While your wrist or rabbit vibe could well be getting a daily workout at first, you may notice that your sex drive drops during a dry spell. For those of us who have vaginas, that ‘dry spell’ can have a more literal meaning. Regular sex encourages blood flow to your nether regions, and as a result, you may find that you don’t get as wet as when you’re romping on the regular. When you do start having sex again, don’t assume the floodgates will automatically open – it may take a little while for your physical sexual responses to connect with what’s going on in your mind. This shouldn’t last forever, though, and a little lube works wonders.
Men will have lower testosterone levels in their body, which will usually lead to a lowered libido, and could cause erectile dysfunction. His love muscle needs regular exercise to keep it functioning properly, and a penis pump is the perfect workout buddy – think of it as a dumbbell for his dong.
6. You might gain weight
Obviously it depends how energetic you are, but sex can burn anything from 85 to 250 calories. So if you’re used to going at it three times a week and for some reason stop, it’s a bit like skipping a cardio session. It’s possible you may notice a little bit of weight gain, but nothing an extra 20 minutes on the treadmill won’t sort if you’re worried.
7. It can bring you closer
Though it can be unsettling, a dry spell isn’t necessarily an indication of a doomed relationship. Stressful jobs, mismatched schedules, out-of-sync sex drives… there are plenty of reasons why you may not be doing it. But the good news is, when you’re not having sex you can be intimate in other ways. Have a break from bonking and you might rediscover your partner’s hilarious sense of humour, or reconnect over a shared interest.
And there’s no reason why you can’t be intimate in other ways – by exploring massage or taking a bath together, for example. If there’s a problem you need to work out (which may well be indirectly leading to the lack of physical intimacy) you might find it easier to talk honestly about it when you take sex out of the equation. Plus, when you do have sex again, you’ll appreciate it so much more than you did before the drought.
Cecile Sharpe is a sexpert at Lovehoney.com.au