Decided to start having sex recently? If so, mazel tov, best wishes, congrats on the sex, etc. In any case, no matter what your congratulatory word of choice is, chances are good that you might feel a little different. I’m not speaking strictly emotionally here—you might feel an emotional shift and you might not, since people react to having sex for the first time differently–but on a more, ahem, bodily level, since there are some physical changes that happen to most people’s bodies when they start having sex.
A 2003 study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that men think about sex an average of just 19 times per day.
While sex is more of a euphemism than an exact term, some facts just can’t be ignored. From strengthening your immune system, to how aging impacts sexuality, here’s what really happens to your body when you have sex — however you define it.
One general description of the word comes from Canada’s Sexuality Education Resource Centre, which defines sex as “the act of two or more people using words or touch to sexually excite themselves and/or each other.” But whether you refer to the act of sex as “shagging,” “makin’ whoopee,” or “doin’ the horizontal mambo,” it should go without saying that any sexual activity should only happen within the context of consent — the clearly communicated agreement between participants to engage in sexual activity, according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.
Here are six things that happen to your body when you start having sex:
1. Your Breasts (Temporarily) Become Firmer
When you get all riled up, your nervous system gets all riled up, too, causing the blood vessels to dilate and the tissue in your breasts to swell up. During and after sex, they can actually enlarge up to 25 percent times bigger than their normal size. However, don’t imagine that you’ll be walking around for the rest of your life with superbly firm, larger-they-used-to-be breasts.
2. Your Nipples Become More Sensitive In General
When you kick off your new sex life, your body starts experiencing lots of new reactions, including increased blood flow and muscular tension in places you’ve never experienced them before, like your areola and nipples. This process is technically called “vasocongestion.” Basically, when you get aroused, you get goosebumps, your areola swells, and the nipples become hard. The best part is, all of these can contribute to reaching orgasm.
3. Your Brain Gets Flooded With New Happy Hormones
Orgasms release a whole lot of oxytocin, the hormone that makes you feel happy, content, and oh-so-connected with your partner after sex. Studies show that a woman’s brain is capable of releasing a much bigger amount of oxytocin than in men, so know that you’re in for a wild ride. At the same time, you’re likely to also find that sexual encounters release dopamine, which increases confidence and encourages social behavior, as well as testosterone, which encourages you to speak up for yourself in other areas of your life.
4. Your Clitoris And Uterus Learn To Expand And Contract
It’s amazing what your vag can do. Before you started having sex (or masturbating, for that matter), your clitoris and uterus were pretty inactive. After you’ve started having sex, though, is a completely different story. Before and during the act, your clitoris swells up and your uterus rises a little bit, and within 20 minutes of winding down afterward, they return to the normal position.
5. Your Vaginal Elasticity Changes
Your vag adjusts to its new extracurricular activities by becoming a bit more stretchy, for a lack of a better term. When you’re aroused enough, the walls and lips of your vagina slowly open up to welcome in whatever it is your partner is offering, and your body quickly puts these movements into the memory bank to use again later. And contrary to popular belief, your hymen doesn’t “pop” the first time you have penetrative sex, and then cease to exist; rather, you gradually wear down your hymen, the ring of tissue around the inside of your vagina. With repeated sexual activity, it’s likely that penetration starts to feel less uncomfortable.
6. The Way Your Vagina Lubricates Changes (And It Will Keep Changing Over
The wetness you feel down there feels really different when you start having sex. Though you may have experienced some wetness on your own while masturbating, odds are that the wetness you feel between your legs when you’re excited by a partner will be much more intense.