Doctor, my guru told me that abstinence is healthy and increases life span. Is it true?” asked Pandu. “Will you be happy to abstain?" I asked. “No. But if it is the only way to be healthy, then I may try it,” replied Pandu.
The facts are to the contrary. There is no scientific basis whatsoever to the notion that abstinence is good for health and longevity. Our rishis never preached abstinence. In fact, most of them were married.
Some ancient philosophers thought that semen’s greyish froth was a little bit of the grey matter between our ears and, therefore, not something to be indiscriminately spent. Hippocrates had a slightly different theory. He believed that too many ejaculations sapped the precious fluid inside the spinal cord.
Abstaining from sex is a personal choice, based on some moral, spiritual or emotional decision. If you choose to abstain, that is that: other people’s arguments really are not valid, including mine. Let us examine the effects of abstinence on sex and health.
There are three situations in a man’s life when abstinence is a terrible idea and the one time when it is still a good idea.
First, abstinence can be harmful for men who plan to start families. This is particularly true for men with low sperm counts. Saving up sperm through abstinence does not work. In fact, men with low sperm counts ought to try more sex, not less, at the time of their partner’s ovulations.
Married men need to make sure to do it at least once a week. After ten days, abstinence starts to take its toll on sperm vigour. By the way, sperm that are not ejaculated eventually undergo autolysis, which is a fancy way of saying that they break apart, dissolve and are reabsorbed by the body.
Second, abstinence can be harmful to men with an infected prostate. It is an accepted medical fact that an infection of prostate, known as prostatitis, is successfully overcome only with a combination of antibiotics and frequent ejaculation. Some doctors further infer that regular ejaculation is good preventive medicine, as it keeps the prostate well-drained. An infection often presents no symptoms other than an increased white cell count in the semen, but nonetheless cannot be doing a man’s body any good.
Research also indicates that the incidence of prostate enlargement is low in men who have regular ejaculations.
Finally, there is Widower’s Syndrome, a disability of the older single gentlemen. He becomes impotent simply because he has been abstinent. “All body parts need oxygen in order to be healthy, and the flaccid penis is probably the most oxygen deprived organ in the body. Luckily, for most of us, our manhood gets enough oxygen from our nightly erections to keep us prepared for love, even when we’re sidelined. But if our blood vessels clog up with cholesterol as we age, there will be less blood flow—and even less oxygen. The ultimate result is total erectile failure,” says Irwin Goldstein, professor of urology at Boston University School of Medicine. “Bad things happen to tissues that are deprived of oxygen,” he says, “and the penis is not an exception.”
Given the sexual revolution of the last three decades, abstinence in the 1990s would be merely a quaint notion but for AIDS. Suddenly, the single guy who is abstinent is hip, not wimpy. Public health officials are fond of calling abstinence the safest sex of all. (The second safest sex, of course, is masturbation.)
Any natural urge, if it is given up voluntarily, may not create any major health deficit. If it is suppressed forcibly due to lack of opportunity or misguided notions it will boomerang. It will adversely affect mental health and, thereby, physical health.
Remember, if we don’t use it we lose it.