Four times in two years. That’s not a lot of sex for a couple married just a year and a half. Psychologists from Duke University presented a paper recently on this very topic. People who are overweight or obese may often find their weight gets in the way of sex, the psychologists say.
But the scientists found reason for hope. When people lose weight, their sex lives often improve. Researchers from Duke say even moderate weight loss of about 10 percent can make people feel much better about their bodies. That can lead to more sex. This is one of the few studies to examine the mental and emotional problems obesity can cause for intimacy, not just the physical troubles such as “hormone imbalances or impotence,” according to a Duke University press release.
The Duke study involved 161 women and 26 men with an average body mass index of 41 (30 or above is considered obese) and average age of 45. They were enrolled in a diet program at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and had lost 17.5 percent of their body weight after one year and 13 percent after two years. The study subjects were asked about the quality of their sex lives when the study began and every three months thereafter. The most striking improvement in attitudes was seen at three months, when they had lost about 12 percent of their initial weight.
At the beginning, 68 percent of women said they felt sexually unattractive. One year into the diet, only 26 percent did. Initially, 21 percent of women said they were not enjoying sex; only 11 percent said so after one year.
A Man’s Point of View
Ron, who’s trying to lose about 100 pounds, said he’s definitely reluctant to have sex because of his excess weight. He won’t get undressed in front of his partner and won’t have sex with the lights on. “I don’t look sexy. I certainly don’t feel sexy,” Ron said. “If I have any chance of having sex, it is best I don’t do anything to spoil the mood like show my fat butt.”
Accepting Yourself Matters Most
It all depends on how you feel about being overweight, or short, tall or skinny, says eDiets’ sex columnist Michele Hickford. If you like the way you look, however that may be, you’ll feel you can be attractive to someone else, she says.
Being overweight brings with it certain issues that may or may not affect sexual prowess, such as physical stamina or flexibility. But the most important sex organ is the brain, Hickford says. “How you view yourself, how comfortable you are with your body has an enormous impact on your sexual attitude. Until you’re comfortable with yourself and your appearance, whether you’re overweight, underweight, tall, short, black, white or pink, a truly satisfying, fulfilling and, most importantly, comfortable sexual life will be elusive.”
By Che Odom, eDiets.com, January 2005