Sexual appetites can certainly vary, especially as one ages.  According to numerous published studies, having sex regularly does a body good! Sex can preserve heart health in some people, reduce blood pressure, and even boost immunity. Sex can also improve mood, relationships, and mental well-being. But what can happen if you stop having sex?

Less energy. According to many sex therapists, those who refrain from having sex can begin to experience overall sluggishness; they’ll feel less energetic, and their appetite for sex will also dwindle. The old idiom, “out of sight, out of mind” is how a person might feel who has chosen to opt out when it comes to including intimacy in their lives. Having sex can help boost your spirits through mood-elevating endorphins. Without the benefit of these natural pick-me-ups, you might be prone to feeling down in the dumps. There are even some studies that have shown how depression and a lack of sex are linked; this reflects an association.

Thins vaginal walls. If sex is stricken from your playlist, you may feel pain when you do engage in the act again. According to the North American Menopause Society, regular intercourse is important for vaginal health after menopause and even recommends having regular penetrative sex to help vaginal health. “Without regular frequency of intercourse as you get older, the walls of your vagina thin out and can lead to painful sex when you finally get back into the sack,” says Sari Cooper, LCSW, certified sex therapist.

Vaginal Dryness.  Not having sex can also result in less lubrication when you’re ready to engage again, especially for older women; this is due to a lack of hormones such as estrogen. Since vaginal lubrication dwindles with age, and if a woman is not being turned on through masturbation, sexy books, videos, or a partner, the lubrication can begin to lessen quickly.

Penis problems. For men, not having sex for long stretches can bring on such disorders as prostatitis, erectile dysfunction, reduced libido, premature ejaculation, and others. The older a man is, the more difficult it is to restore his sexual function after a long period of abstinence. Besides penile issues, men can also suffer from body weight gain, problems with the skin, psychological discomfort, and various disorders. A man’s lack of a regular, sex life can oftentimes result in depression. In one large study of almost 30,000 men, those who said they ejaculated more than 21 times a month on average had lower chances of prostate cancer compared to those who ejaculated four to seven times a month.

Loss of some smarts Sex affects cognition. According to a study published in The Journals of Gerontology, folks who engaged in more regular sexual activity scored higher on tests that measured their verbal and spatial skills. In addition, people who reported having sex scored higher on cognitive tests than those who had not had sex recently. The researchers think the brain boost may have to do with the hormones released during sex.

Susceptibility to colds and flu. Researchers found that university students who engaged in sexual activity a few times a week had higher levels of immunoglobulin A — an antibody that helps fight infections and the common cold — in their saliva. Interestingly, the IgA levels were highest in couples who consistently had sex a few times a week, but lower in people who had no sex.

Marriage breakups.  A 2017 study found that “sexual afterglow” lasted 48 hours post-sex and contributed to pair-bonding.  A sexless marriage, however, is when a couple has sex fewer than ten times a year, this may be problematic for the relationship if there are mismatched libidos. According to marriage therapists, a dead bedroom can lead to hurt feelings and mounting resentment. The sexlessness will seep into other areas of a relationship and ultimately, an erosion of connection.

Memory problems.  A study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior that was led by Mark Allen from the University of Wollongong in Australia showed that more frequent sexual activity, including kissing, and greater emotional closeness, were associated with better memory performance — and this link was stronger among older participants.  And there are signs that sex can also help your brain grow neurons and work better in general.

So, bottom line…sex, it does a body good!