A sexless pandemic (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk) The pandemic has seen most people, barring couples who are in the same household, deprived of any sexual contact.
Therefore, last week’s introduction by the government of so-called support (read: sex) bubbles was definitely welcome.
Quick recap: support bubbles allow for two households to come together as one, with the caveat that one of these households has an adult who lives alone. This means that that you can’t form a bubble with a household if both of them have several people living in the home.
This undoubtedly throws a wrench in sex plans for many singletons, especially those living in London , where it’s notoriously expensive to have a flat all to yourself.
They are then back to square one: no sex .
Beyond sexual frustration, what actually happens in the body if we don’t have sex for a longer period of time? We find out. You may feel more stressed
Let’s start this off by saying that a ‘long time’ is hard to quantify – as it’s very individual. But for the sake of this investigation, we will use the pandemic as our example, so a ‘long time’ equates to 12-14 weeks.
During sex, our body releases ‘happy hormones’ known as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin, which are natural mood boosters. We also get these from kissing, cuddling and general affection, but orgasms in particular provide a rush of hormones designed to make us feel relaxed.
For some people, sex is also a way to distract their brain from other troubles, if even for a short while, which can help reduce anxiety.
Does this mean that people who don’t have sex regularly are helpless stress balls at the mercy of their hormones? No.
Firstly, masturbation has very similar effects and you don’t need a partner to do that. Secondly, exercise also impacts serotonin, endorphin and dopamine levels in the body.
In other words – can’t have sex? Wank or work out. Your sleep and memory could be disrupted
Back to our lovely happy hormones – serotonin helps regulate our sleep, which is often why you feel a bit dozy after a session in the sheets.
Not only that, but it also improves our learning abilities, memory skills and digestion. Your immune system could benefit from orgasms
On a positive note, some research suggests that having orgasms could boost your immune system, which is especially desirable when you’re in the midst of a global health crisis.
Thankfully, as you know, orgasms can be achieved through masturbation – not just sex – and earlier this year, we explained the connection between masturbation and your immune system .
A small study of 11 people from 2004 revealed that orgasms achieved through masturbation boosted adrenaline and prolactin plasma concentrations, which is a protein hormone that has multiple functions, one of which is to be used by other immune-boosting cells.
‘There is evidence to support that components of our immune system are activated by sexual arousal and orgasm,’ Dr Sarah Welsh, a gynaecologist and co-founder of the Hanx , a sexual wellness brand, tells us.
‘Orgasms, whether through sexual intercourse or masturbation, causes an increase in the levels of adrenaline and other immune cells within the bloodstream, indicating the positive impact sexual arousal can have on the immune system.’
Another, older study by psychologists at Wilkes University, Pennsylvania, also suggests that having sex can stave off colds.
However, more research needs to be done in this field to give concrete results. Your vaginal walls could get thinner and tighter
Don’t panic, not having sex for three months will not alter the entire look and feel of your vagina – but a longer period of not getting freaky could see some changes happen.
‘Sex causes increased blood flow to the vagina and increased natural lubrication, meaning that long periods without sex can mean the vaginal tissues become slightly dryer and thinner,’ explains Dr Welsh.
‘However, this is less common in young healthy women, but more apparent in women who have gone through the menopause.’ Higher risk of erectile dysfunction
‘When someone doesn’t have sex for a while, there’s a very small chance they’ll notice any serious side effects on their health,’ says Dr Earim Chaudry, medical director at Manual . My twisted spine curved 81 degrees UK’s first face mask vending machines launch in London How to stay safe if you’re going back to the shops today ‘[But] unfortunately, men who don’t have regular sex will have an increased chance of developing ED. This proves especially true with ageing men.
What’s more, regularly ejaculating is ‘said to reduce the risk of developing prostate cancer by lowering stress and getting cell metabolism to a steady rate.’ You could feel disconnected from others If you’re used to having a lot of sex and have a high sex drive, a sudden disruption into your routine could affect your mental health.Dr Becky Spelman, psychologist and clinical director at the Private Therapy Clinic, explains: ‘Not having sex for a long time affects people in different ways and this really depends on where your sex drive is at currently.‘If you’ve got an incredibly high sex drive or even a moderately high sex drive it’s going to be incredibly frustrating for you to not have sex in a long time.‘For people with a high libido a lack of sex can impact on their mental health.‘There are a lot of benefits in having sex and reducing stress is definitely one of them. It’s also rewarding for people to be able to have regular sex – not only because of the physical pleasure when they orgasm, but also because it let’s them feel connected to others intimately.’ Do you have a story to share? Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk . The daily lifestyle email from Metro.co.uk.