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Jul 16, 2010

Obesity’s Effect on Sexuality

Reports from a French survey report interesting sexual behaviors and functions when comparing overweight and obese individuals with normal weight people. In general, compared with normal-weight individuals, obese men reported more erectile dysfunction; obese women did not have any increased sexual dysfunction, but were more likely to report unintended pregnancies.

French investigators conducted a national survey of sexual behaviors in 4635 men and 5535 women, ages 18-69. One of the main focus areas of the study was the effects of obesity and sexual behavior and function. 9% of the participants were obese, 21 % of the women overweight, and 35% men were overweight.

Results of the study showed that while obese men had twice the rate of erectile dysfunction as normal weight men, obese women had no increase in sexual dysfunction. Obese and overweight woman had more changes in their sexual behavior while men had no change in this area. Younger obese women (18-29), were threefold more likely to have met a partner on the internet and have obese partners. Obese women of all ages were less likely to see a clinician for contraception despite being sexually active, less likely to use oral contraception, and more likely to use the withdrawal method as birth control. This explains the increase in unintended pregnancies among obese women. These results have suggested that clinicians need to create an environment in which women, especially obese and overweight women, can seek advice and contraception in an open and nonjudgmental place.

Dr. Kerry Ferguson