Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

How Does Being Overweight Affect Your Sex Life?

By Michael Bates, M.D.

Does being overweight and being sexy mix? Absolutely...but for many people who struggle with their weight, body image issues and associated factors can turn off the brain's libido switch, according to psychologist Martin Binks, director of Duke University’s Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, N. Carolina.

Now, besides the libido issue, there are good reasons to have a healthy weight. Besides the well-known problems of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type II diabetes, too much weight also causes:

  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Deceased clitoral sensitivity
  • Increased SHGB

Wait, increased SHBG, what is that? Sex hormone binding globulin(SHBG) binds the sex hormone testosterone that circulates in your blood system. This hormone increases your libido or sexual desire. The more SHBG circulating, the less free testosterone left to stimulate desire. So what causes the SHBG levels to be elevated? You guessed it: being overweight.

Few of us are the media’s ideal of the perfect shape and size. Let’s talk about a healthy weight and regaining or enhancing your libido.

  • Work on losing weight. Even 10 pounds releases more free testosterone, the libido hormone.
    1. Eat healthily: less fat and lots of colorful fruits and vegetables
    2. Begin an exercise program: do some type of physical activity that elevates your heart rate, like a brisk 30 minute walk four times a week
  • Admire and honor your body
    1. Don't be worried about this bulge or that bulge
    2. Be comfortable in your own skin
    3. Praise yourself for healthy choices in diet and exercise
  • Believe in your sensuality
    1. Give yourself love
    2. Ignite that inner fire with erotic reading or video watching
    3. Dance, sing, cook, exercise, whatever, with selflove

Living a healthy lifestyle and taking better care of yourself naturally stimulates your interest in sex, even if you don’t lose weight. One of the biggest obstacles to enjoying sex at any size is body image. Overweight women are more hampered than men by body image. They are more likely to believe that they are not sexually appealing.

Psychologist Abby Aronowitz says this, “don’t buy into society’s idea of the perfect sexual body, and do allow your own sexuality and sensuality to thrive inside of the body you have.”

Accept your weight and shape, think of yourself as desirable, abandon self-consciousness to experience the sexual moment. Although a study from Duke University reported 30% of obese people have sexual problems, don’t despair, 70% are doing fine, and you can, too.

If you have more questions about this topic, ask the expert.

About the Author

Michael Bates, M.D.

Dr Bates practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 34 years in Wichita, Kansas, until his retirement in 2011.

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