Health Lifestyle

The Effects Of Abstinence From Sex On A Woman’s Vagina

“The vagina is an elastic tube,” says Salena Zanotti, MD, an OB/GYN at Avon Pointe Family Health Center in Avon, Ohio. If it hasn’t been used in some time, then it may get a little tighter. But she says, “It will go back to its original elasticity in a woman who is of premenopausal age.”

That’s thanks to the hormone estrogen, which helps maintain elasticity and lubrication in the vagina. Because premenopausal women still produce plenty of estrogen, they shouldn’t have to worry about permanently losing elasticity even after a long period of abstinence.

If you’re postmenopausal, you may lose elasticity permanently

Unlike their premenopausal counterparts, Dr. Zanotti says postmenopausal women have a higher chance of experiencing a more permanent loss of vaginal elasticity after a prolonged period without sex. That’s because their bodies produce less estrogen, which can lead to a loss of elasticity and lubrication in the vagina.“It’s really hard to get [the vagina] to stretch out again after menopause,” Dr. Zanotti says. In the case of postmenopausal women who are looking to maintain a certain level of vaginal elasticity, the phrase “use it or lose it” may apply. The good news is that there are plenty of personal lubricants you can use, in addition to gentle stimulation, that can help combat vaginal dryness.

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You definitely won’t grow a new hymen

“That is a complete fallacy,” says Dr. Zanotti. “The hymen is a vaginal remnant that’s there from development. It’s something that’s broken through when a woman [first] has intercourse or maybe uses a tampon. That tissue does not regrow. It cannot close up.”

Women who are late into menopause may experience a slight shrinking of the vaginal opening, Dr. Zanotti says. “But there’s no regrowth of a hymen at any point in anyone’s life.”

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You’re not going to “dry up”

Just as many people mistakenly believe that women regrow their hymens after long periods of abstinence, there are also some claims floating around that abstinent women’s vaginas “dry up.”

But Adeeti Gupta, an OB/GYN and founder of Walk In GYN Care in New York City, says this is another myth. “Please do not think that ‘everything is going to dry up down there’ because of no activity,” she says. One possible exception to this rule? As noted above, postmenopausal women are more likely to experience vaginal dryness. That’s thanks to reduced estrogen levels, not abstinence.

Your arousal could change

Just as initiating a new sexual relationship might heighten your libido, Dr. Gupta says it may also increase arousal and “make the experience more sensual.”

Whether you’re sexually active or sexually abstinent, Dr. Zanotti says that arousal is always highly variable. “Everyone has a different amount of time to reach that climax,” she says. “It’s so individualized, not within just the woman but also with that person they’re gonna be with.”

For this reason, Dr. Zanotti says it’s important for women to allow their arousal to manifest however it does during each sexual encounter. “I think [women should] feel comfortable with it and not feel guilty about it,” she says.