Obesity and Sex: How Weight Plays a Role in the Bedroom

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You might have questions about obesity and sex that you don't want to ask your doctor. Like does having sex make you gain weight? Or is sex good for weight loss? And you might want to know if changing your weight can boost libido or performance?

There are many different ways that weight and sex are connected. Find out how they are related to decide you want to slim down to improve your bedroom behavior.

Weight and Sexual Performance

There are several different ways that an increase in your weight may change your sex life. But the changes are different for men and for women.

  • Men: Overweight men may have a more difficult time having sex than slim men. According to the medical experts at the Obesity Action Coalition, sexual dysfunction is a side effect of obesity. Men may suffer from erectile dysfunction when they carry too much weight. These men may suffer from anxiety and poor sexual performance as a result. Obese men may also suffer from buried penis syndrome, a condition where the penis is buried beneath folds of skin.
  • Women: Several research studies have shown that women with a higher body mass index (BMI) are more likely to suffer from sexual problems. Some researchers believe it may be related to poor circulation in the genital area. Difficulty with sex may lead to decreased sexual satisfaction and poor body image.

    Of course, just because some studies have shown a relationship between sexual dysfunction and obesity doesn't mean that your weight causes problems in the bedroom. In fact, some studies have shown that obesity is not a risk factor for sexual dysfunction. But if you are overweight and experiencing a lack of performance or satisfaction, you may want to discuss your weight and sex with your doctor to see if there is a connection.

    Does Sex Cause Weight Gain?

    If you're not experiencing problems in your sex life, you may have a related concern: Does sex cause weight gain? While it might seem crazy to think that any physical activity could cause you to gain weight, this fear became popular among men and women after stories surfaced on the internet.

    The weight gain myth surfaced after a researcher in India published a research paper suggesting that an increase of a hormone called prolactin may cause weight gain. Prolactin is a hormone that is produced by your body and levels of prolactin increase immediately after sex. But this myth has never been proven, and other researchers say that a very brief surge in this hormone can't make you gain weight.

    Does Sex Help You Lose Weight?

    So, if sex doesn't cause weight gain, can it cause weight loss? After all, making love can be a fairly vigorous physical activity. And since sex is a pleasurable experience, why wouldn't you want to have sex to lose weight?

    While healthy sexual activity can be good for you, it may not help with weight loss as much as you'd like.

    The number of calories you burn during sex will vary depending on the length and intensity of your session. But most estimates suggest that you burn roughly 85-100 calories during intercourse.  So, it's not likely that a weekly or even a daily romp will do much for your waistline.

    Should You Lose Weight For Better Sex?

    The benefits of weight loss include increased energy, improved mobility, and elevated self-esteem. These factors are bound to have a positive effect on your love life. In addition, if your weight contributes to depression, the confidence you gain from losing weight may help improve the way you feel about yourself and boost your body image.

    But because the evidence regarding sex and obesity is mixed, there is no proof that changing your weight will change your sex life. If you choose to lose weight for better sex, do so with realistic expectations. Reaching and maintaining a healthy weight is likely to improve your well being and may boost your bedroom routine as well.

    Sources:

    Assimakopoulos K, et al. Assessing sexual function in obese women preparing for bariatric surgery. Obesity Surgery2006.

    Stephen Boyce, MD.  Men: Is Obesity Affecting Your Sex Life? Obesity Action Coalition. 2015.

    Brody S. Slimness is associated with greater intercourse and lesser masturbation frequency. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy2004.

    Bhanu P. Gupta MD, et al. The Effect of Lifestyle Modification and Cardiovascular Risk Factor Reduction on Erectile Dysfunction A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine. 2011.

    Kadioglu P, et al. Obesity might not be a risk factor for female sexual dysfunction. BJU International. 2010.

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