A sex drought isn't just frustrating in the sexual context; even though you're not the only one not getting yours, it can sometimes feel like it; and you end up catastrophizing about the cobwebs down there, whether your hymen's grown back yet, and if you'll ever find out what another person's touch feels like again.
But it's not all bad, folks. As Dr. Verity Sullivan points out, there are actually some really good things abstinence does for you—even if it's not by choice.
1. It's a chance to sort out your sexual health
"While sex can be great, it can leave you with more than a post-coital glow," Dr. Verity says, adding that STI rates have seen a real spike, particularly in the 16 to 24 age group, in recent years. So why not use your sex-free stage to get comprehensively screened and check you've got a clean bill of health?
"It can take up to two weeks for chlamydia and gonorrhoea to show up on tests and 1 month for syphilis and HIV," the doctor advises, "but if you have symptoms go see a professional straight away."
2. You don't need to worry about unwanted pregnancy
And for some people, this can cause a serious reduction in stress—which is always going to be healthier for your body. "At the end of the day, abstinence is the best form of contraception," says Dr. Verity. So make the most of it.
And when you do start having sex, we're reminded by our medical expert to "ensure you have condoms on hand for if/when sex does happen and chat with your doctor about the plethora of safe contraceptive options available in case your situation changes." Better to be safe than sorry, and all that.
3. You can please yourself
Sex has some undoubted health benefits, as we know. It can improve heart health, lower blood pressure, improve sleep, relieve stress, the list goes on. But you don't need a partner to get the health benefits of sex, let's not forget.
"Masturbation is a normal and healthy way to get an appreciation of your own body and how to self-pleasure," reminds Dr. Verity. "Alongside the stress relieving and sleep promoting benefits of a self-induced orgasm, knowing what feels good may also improve your sexual confidence and lead to better sex with partners in the future."
4. You have more time to spend with your friends
We all like sex, so if we've got someone on hand to do it regularly with, we can start sacrificing much-needed time with pals. One study, which followed almost 1,500 older people for a decade discovered that those who surrounded themselves with lots of friends outlived those with a narrower network of friends by more than 20%.
You can't put bros before hoes when you've got no bro on the go, can you?
5. You can chill out with the self-grooming (if you want)
Some women choose not to do anything to their pubic hair, but if you're one who prefers to groom yourself prior to sex, you can often feel a real pressure to keep it up. Often, that's relieved when you're going sans-sex, so there's a silver lining there.
And let's not forget, "pubes are actually there for a reason—to protect the delicate genital skin and to guard against infections," says Dr. Verity. "So use a sex free period to experiment and work out what feels best for you (and save a wad of cash on waxing in the process)."
6. Sex is a spectrum
While we often feel pressure to be having regular sex so that we feel "normal," Dr. Verity points out that "sexual appetite is a spectrum, ranging from sex addiction right through to the 1% of the population who are estimated to be asexual (meaning they have no interest in sex).
"There is no right or wrong answer for how much sex we should be having, but the emphasis should rather be on sexual choice. So if your idea of satisfaction is a cuddle on the sofa rather than S&M—that's ok. Just as long as it makes you happy."
That one's definitely worth remembering.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.