When Women Stop Having Sex, This Body Part Can Shrink

Couples' therapists might tell you that when you stop having sex, you may feel distant from one another and this can lead to other relational problems like insecurity, fear, and communication breakdown. However, sex is good for a lot of other things besides building intimacy and connectedness with your significant other.

Sex is also related to your early death risk. Since this intimate activity is an exercise (albeit a small one) and it gives your heart muscles a workout, people who have regular sex could have better heart health. For men, sex is also about protecting their prostate health

For women, not masturbating or having penetrative sex can lead to changes in your body parts, specifically your vagina. Per experts, your vaginal canal could shrink in size when you abstain from sex for a long period of time. Using your vagina keeps it healthy and challenged, so to speak. "The vagina is an elastic tube," explained an OB/GYN at Avon Pointe Family Health Center in Avon, Ohio, Dr. Salena Zanotti (via Prevention). Not using it can tighten things down there. But it's not the kind of tightening you're assuming. Let's take a closer look. 

How not having sex can cause the vagina to shrink

Per the experts, there is a difference in how your vagina shrinks or tightens up from a lack of sexual stimulation in premenopausal women when compared with postmenopausal women. In the former camp, the shrinking is temporary and sorts itself out after the first few attempts at intimacy. However, in the latter group, it could be more permanent, and it has to do with the hormone estrogen. 

The sex hormone estrogen is responsible for maintaining elasticity and lubrication in the vagina. For women who've not reached menopause, estrogen levels remain bountiful, typically. The same cannot be said for women who've reached menopause and are post-menopause. Lower estrogen levels mean a host of changes for women sex-wise, one of which includes vaginal dryness and a less stretchy vaginal canal. This can even lead to more painful sex. In fact, experts recommend regular sex for postmenopausal women to boost blood flow to the vagina, keep it healthy, and maintain its elasticity. Other post-menopausal changes include lower sexual desire, difficulty getting aroused, and challenges in reaching an orgasm.  

Shrinking of the vagina for women prior to menopause, however, has more to do with just not using that part of the body as much. Also, "if it feels as though your vagina is tighter after you've taken a hiatus from sex, it may be more related to tension or a lack of comfort/arousal," explained sexologist Jess O'Reilly to Your Tango. "If you're a little nervous diving back in, take your time, use lube, and wait until your arousal levels are high before sliding anything inside."

Other changes after you've abstained from sex for a while

You may take more time to climax if you've abstained from sex for a while. This could be related to a few different things. Orgasm is not just about what you're feeling in your body. It's also about your brain. Not having sexual stimulation — with a partner or without — for long periods of time could result in fear of letting go, per Jess O'Reilly (via Your Tango). 

You might have difficulty orgasming because your sexual arousal methods need a bit of restarting and tweaking. Things like losing sensation in your clitoris from not having used that part of your body for some time, finding it harder to become aroused because you've switched that side of you off, or being nervous about re-initiating sex can all affect your ability to climax. With proper lubrication, open and honest conversations with your partner, stimulating foreplay, and repeated attempts, an orgasm is not far out of your reach. 

That being said, it's important to understand that, vagina aside, a lot of other things happen to your body when you stop having sex. Apart from relational and heart health concerns, you might feel more anxious, your blood pressure levels may rise, and stress might become a bigger part of your life. Even so, lots of people decide to stop having sex for various reasons. You could be voluntarily celibate, asexual, or perhaps you simply don't want to. If you're concerned about your vagina (and other parts of your body) discuss this with your doctor. There is nothing to be ashamed of.