What Happens When a Man Stops Having Sex?

Sexual function and activity are not just about pleasure and satisfaction. 

Both physical and mental health can benefit from regular sexual intercourse. 

So, what happens when a man stops having sex? What can you expect then? 

And how can men deal with the side effects of abstinence? You’ll get answers to all these questions in this post. 

What happens to the male body when you stop having sex?

When a man stops having sex, a chain of reactions may occur. Since these effects are not specific to voluntary or involuntary abstinence, men usually don’t think they have anything to do with a lack of sex. Below, you can see what happens when you stop having sexual intercourse.

Heart disease risk

Sex is good for your heart. In fact, everything that’s good for your heart is also good for your penis and vice versa. 

The reason is simple; erectile function depends greatly on proper blood flow to produce an erection after sexual stimulation, which is also vital for cardiovascular health. 

Evidence shows men who have sex at least twice a week can cut their heart disease risk in half. 

Higher prostate cancer risk

Sexual function is associated with prostate cancer risk. More precisely, men who have regular sex are less likely to develop prostate cancer, especially advanced or high-grade prostate cancer. 

The link between sexual activity and prostate health could be down to ejaculation of the sperm. Semen retention is not healthy for the prostate gland. 

More research about the role of sexual health in prostate cancer risk subjects is necessary. It is necessary to uncover how ejaculating regularly can protect the prostate. However, men who stop having sex could be more susceptible to prostate problems and lower urinary tract symptoms.

Weaker immune system

Orgasm is good for the immune system. For that reason, men who stop having sex tend to have weaker immunity. 

A study that analyzed saliva samples of patients who had sex once or twice a week, found high levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA). Immunoglobulin A is an antibody that combats the common cold.

Decreased performance

When you stop having sex and remain abstinent for a while, your sexual performance can decrease where it won’t be at an optimal level once you start having sex again. 

Your sexual performance depends on many factors, including a strong sex drive, proper erectile function, no ejaculation problems, among others. Lack of sex can worsen all these things and thereby affect your performance. 

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Side effects of abstinence in men

Sexual abstinence in men can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary abstinence or celibacy occurs when a man firmly decides to stop having sexual intercourse for one reason or another. These reasons can be personal or religious. Some men also give up masturbation. 

On the other hand, involuntary abstinence happens when a man stops having sex due to other factors, including sexually transmitted infections, health problems, or sexual issues such as erectile dysfunction, or premature ejaculation

Sexual abstinence in men can be accompanied by side effects or withdrawal symptoms. They include:

  • Anxiety and depression

  • Weaker memory and cognitive skills

  • Relationship problems with a sexual partner

  • Lack of interest in sexual initiation 

  • Poor prostate health

  • Issues of self-esteem and confidence

  • Sexual frustration and lack of sexual attraction

  • Mood swings

  • Low sperm quality

Are there any ways to reduce the side effects?

As seen above, sexual abstinence contributes to a multitude of adverse reactions that affect a man’s quality of life and sexual behavior. However, abstinence-only education is scarce, and men aren’t always aware of problems they can experience.

Although these problems are frustrating, they are also manageable in most cases. For men whose abstinence is involuntary, solutions are numerous. 

First, you need to identify the reason behind your sexual abstinence and acknowledge it. Then, you need to work proactively to manage that problem. By taking care of the underlying cause of abstinence, you will also be able to pave the way to normalized sexual function.

For example, if you don’t have sex due to a health problem, you will be able to engage in sexual activity by managing the symptoms of that problem. 

If you are abstinent due to erectile dysfunction, low libido or low sexual desire, premature ejaculation, and other issues, you need to tackle them proactively. The above-mentioned side effects of abstinence in men will gradually subside as you start having more sex.

A healthy lifestyle is also important here. Strive to eat a well-balanced diet. Exercise regularly to boost your confidence and testosterone levels. 

You should also manage stress, take care of your prostate health, and focus on improving heart health. 

Men whose celibacy is voluntary don’t have to start having intercourse again to feel better. You can work on managing each specific side effect, i.e., its symptoms, to decrease their impact on your overall health and quality of life.


Men who stop having sex are at a higher risk of prostate problems, sexual dysfunction, and other side effects. The good news is that these problems are manageable, and your sex life can improve. A healthy lifestyle is crucial for proper sexual functioning and good heart health. 

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  1. Hall SA, Shackelton R, Rosen RC, Araujo AB. Sexual activity, erectile dysfunction, and incident cardiovascular events. Am J Cardiol. 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2824175/
  2. Zapata DF, Howard LE, Frank J, et al. The association between sexual function and prostate cancer risk in US veterans. Asian J Androl. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5312217/
  3. Charnetski CJ, Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychol Rep. 2004. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15217036/ 

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