It’s impossible to turn on the news, read a magazine or scan the internet without finding a report citing new found problems associated with the obesity epidemic. The global growth of waistlines is weighing heavily on everyone’s minds and budgets and thus it’s garnering a lot of attention. There is one complication of excess weight however, that many steer clear of and few want to opening discuss: how being overweight or obese can significantly decrease a person’s sex drive. Just as the obesity epidemic is a multifactorial issue, there are many reasons that being overweight significantly reduces a person’s libido.
Many individuals who are overweight or obese have poor body image. Poor body image makes a person feel anything but desirable. This makes wanting to have sex or enjoying sex very difficult. The mental focus then becomes consumed with stress about how your partner feels about your excess weight or how you look from different angles. Actual enjoyment becomes removed from the picture.
In addition to the emotional stress of poor body image, excess fat tissue actually creates physiological changes in the body that decrease sexual enjoyment and impair sexual performance. A prime example would be high cholesterol levels that are associated with excess weight are known to stiffen and clog blood vessels putting a person at risk for a heart attack. This is not the kind of stiffening anyone is after. What is not openly talked about is these same fats can clog blood vessels that supply the penis or clitoris potentially causing erectile dysfunction, impotence and impaired sexual enjoyment in women.
Furthermore, excess adiposity (fat tissue) can cause hormonal changes that significantly decrease a person’s desire to have sex. Excess fat tissue alters normal hormonal function in the body and sex hormones are not excluded.
The great news is there is hope. The same 10 to 15 pounds of weight loss that can help decrease a chance of a heart attack, diabetes and stroke, can reawaken your sexual appetite. This modest weight reduction, through diet and exercise, can improve your body’s physiological chemistry enough to get things back on track. It has also been shown that once an individual begins to adopt healthy behaviors to lose weight, such as exercising and eating right, their sense of self-esteem and sex drive begin to return. It should be noted that fad diets (think starvation, pills and other crazed behaviors) are actually associated with even further decreased libido and sexual performance.