Dear Dr G,

Thank you for addressing my concerns as this issue has been bothering me for the last three weeks.

I am 28 year-old-man and recently married over the last six months.

As you can imagine, my wife and I are enjoying our honeymoon month and beyond as newlyweds.

We have a very healthy sexual relationship and the bedroom matters have become an intimate bond that brings us so much closer.

As we were approaching the holy month of Ramadan, my wife and I had an open discussion about sexual activities.

Even though the Islamic teachings may vary on the matter, my wife and I have made the conscious decision to abstain from sex during the fasting month.

I am hoping to put Dr. G on the spot regarding the health impact on both men and women, being asexual for one month.

In addition, I also would like to mention that it has not been easy over the last three weeks refraining from all forms of sexual activities, especially being so close to my wife.

Therefore, I also would like to put Dr. G on the spot for tips to overcome my desire and frustrations for the remaining days.

Yours truly,

Sexual abstinence or sexual restraint is the practice of refraining from all aspects of sexual activities. Such restraint is practiced for medical, psychological, social, moral or religious reasons. According to many anthropologists, both men and women, at some point of our lives observe the practice of abstinence across all cultures and religions. The practice of sexual abstinence may be voluntary or involuntary.

Generally, voluntary abstinence is practiced when an individual chooses not to engage in sexual activities due to moral or religious reasons. On the other hand, involuntary abstinence is enforced in legal mandates where sexual activities outside a marriage are deemed illegal. Throughout history, sexual abstinence has been believed to confer numerous health benefits.

According to Pythagoras in the 6th century BC, sex should only be practiced in the winter and not summer. He also believed sex was harmful for male health for all reasons because the loss of semen was deemed dangerous, as the practice is physically and spiritually exhausting. I often wonder when was it suitable to have sex at all during that era.

In the 20th century, many clinicians concurred that the lack of abstinence is the source of reduction in vitality in men. Many publications highlighted that the loss of semen through ejaculation renders depletion of vital nutrients such as lecithin and phosphorus, vital for the brain.

The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, spoke of the positive physiological impact of sexual abstinence, resulting in reabsorption of semen by blood, prompting a stimulus of power in the brain.

In fact, it was commonly believed by medical professions that numerous mental and physical diseases in men are caused by loss of nutrients through seminal discharge. The swing from conservative views to sexual liberation emerged at the end of the industrial revolution, well into 1960’s.

One of the most influential figures in American sexology, Alfred Kinsey, cited that sexual ignorance led to real suffering in society and sexual liberation was the key to both a strong marriage and a happy life. In fact, Kinsey even believed abstinence was a sexual dysfunction.

Of course, modern research had highlighted the health benefits of sex. Besides relieving stress, studies have also shown that regular sex has a protective effect on the heart, lowering the risk of heart attack and enhancing immunity. Some research also demonstrated long-term abstinence has been shown to result in vaginal atrophy and vaginismus. In reality, there are other ways to improve on health including healthy eating, exercising and stress-reduction, and not just sex!

Voltaire once said: “Use, do not abuse. Neither abstinence nor excess ever renders man happy”

Of course, it is true. Moderation is key for finding that balance in life that makes us all happy. In reality, sexual abstinence is a voluntary choice in life, whether it is social or religious reasons for the refraining from sex.

It is natural for frustration to kick in when one facing restrains. Under such circumstances, mindful-abstinence can be practiced to overcome the frustration by shifting focus from having sex to enhancing relationship.

Usually, temporary abstinence can generate eager anticipation. At the end of the restraint interval, the bedroom sparkles promises to be more magical! When Dr G is put on the spot for his opinion on the health impact of temporary sexual abstinence, his response is: “Use, but when cannot use, the transient abstinence often ensures sweetness that renders man (and woman) happy!”

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