Sexual activity is an exercise as old as time. It is often done for enjoyment, bonding, and procreation or having babies. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report states that in the US, 42% of teen females aged 15-19 had ever had sex, and among the teen males, the percent was 44%. In 2011-2015, nearly 3 in 10 teens (30% of female teens and 29% of male teens) had sexual intercourse at least once in the past three months. A small percentage of teens had their first sexual intercourse with someone they had “just met”, whereas the majority had a first partner with whom they were “going steady”. The summary was that an estimated 55% of male and female teens have had sexual intercourse by age 18. The increased and easy access to pornography and more liberalization of the society with de-stigmatization of sex has made sex much more attractive, common and available.
Sex has also been reported to have several benefits for women. These benefits include:
Lower blood pressure.
Better immune system.
Better heart health, including lower risk for heart disease.
Decreased depression and anxiety.
Immediate, natural pain relief.
Brain protection (better cognitive function in older age)
Strengthening of the pelvic floor
Creates intimacy and
Burning of calories.
Reasons why women can be sexually inactive
Despite the abundance of sex in the society, and its benefits, some women for several reasons still remain sexually inactive. Sexual inactivity, is generally defined as not reporting oral, vaginal or anal intercourse in a given period of time, usually 6 months to one year. It can be further categorized into those who were sexually inexperienced (had never had sex), single or in a relationship.
A British study reported that 22.2% of the women in British resident population aged 16–74 years was sexually inactive. Sexually inactive women were more than sexually inactive men. These women were more likely to be aged 40 years and above, and single.
Women may be sexually inactive due to a lot of reasons:
- Choice: some women may choose not to be sexually active for different personal reasons including religious purposes. Some religions like Christianity preach sexual purity and permit sex only within the context of marriage and adherents of such religions may choose to wait till they get married before they begin sexual activity.
- Circumstances: some women may be sexually inactive because they may not have seen a person whom they have the emotional connection or feel physically attracted to enough to want to have sex with the person. Their circumstances may also not permit them to be in contact with eligible partners. Other women may be sexually inactive due to special circumstances like commitment to a partner who is absent, or even death of a partner.
- Emotional or psychological issues: Some women may be sexually inactive due to emotional issues like depression, anxiety, stress, past sexual abuse, low self-esteem, and fear of rejection.
- Sexual inactivity may also be due to sexual problems of the partner or dissatisfaction with a partner.
- Physical reasons like pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, and even menopause can also make some women loose interest in sex and become sexually inactive.
- Medical conditions like Heart disease, diabetes, thyroid disease, certain nerve conditions can also make women loose interest in sex and remain sexually inactive. Also sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes, chlamydia, trich, can also make the sexual experience uncomfortable for women, and make them loose interest in sex. They may also be sexually inactive while on treatment for these STIs to prevent re-infection.
- Medications like drugs for high blood pressure drugs, antidepressants, antipsychotic medications, epilepsy drugs, and steroids can reduce the sexual drive of some women.
- Asexuality: some women do not feel sexual desire at all. This may not be due to any emotional or psychological reason and may just be the sexual orientation of the woman.
- Other reasons like chromosomal birth problems, structural defects of the female genital organs, issues like vaginismus, frigidity among others can cause a woman to remain sexually inactive.
What are the signs that a woman has not been sexually active?
As has been discussed, a sexually inactive woman can be inexperienced (a virgin) or not. While there are no standard signs that women are sexually inactive, a woman who has not been sexually active may have the following signs:
- Intact hymen: a virgin generally has an intact hymen. A hymen is a piece of membranous or stretchy collar of tissue at the entrance to the vagina. It is protected by the labia and stretches during sex. Sexually inexperienced women may experience discomfort caused by an intact hymen if they choose to have sex.
- Bleeding during sex. The stretching of the hymen may cause some tears and bleeding during sex or the walls of the vagina may be bruised causing bleeding during sex. However, only about half of sexually inexperienced women bleed during the first sex and the hymen can also be stretched or torn by activities like horse riding and other straddle injuries.
- Vaginal dryness: there may be vaginal dryness due to poor or inadequate sexual stimulation if the individual decides to resume sexual activity.
- Pain during sex: depending on the cause of the sexual activity, sex can be painful for a sexually inactive woman who resumes sexual activity.
- Sexual dissatisfaction: partners of a woman who has not been sexually active may report dissatisfaction because of the relative sexual inexperience of the women. The woman may also report dissatisfaction due to unrealistic expectations about sex.
- Poor libido: sexual inactivity can also be associated with poor libido as a sure way to increase libido is to have more sex.
- When sexual abstinence is involuntary, some individuals may feel negative effects on their mental health, and may find it distressing that they have a low sexual drive or cannot engage in sex.
- People who abstained from sex struggled to cope with stressful situations than those who have regular sex.
- While this is not always true, women in a relationship who are not sexually active often experience anxiety and insecurities.
- Women who are not sexually active have very reduced chances and frequency of urinary tract infections (UTI) as sex is a major risk factor for a UTI
- Less STI. Since STIs are sexually transmitted, women who are not sexually active have almost zero chances of having any STI, and abstinence is a proven method to prevent STIs.
There is no one-answer-fits-all whether you should be sexually active or not. Whatever decision you make, as long as it is voluntary and you are both mentally and physically healthy with no pressure to have sex or abstain should be good for you.