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Body Weight and Sexual Health

Your weight may have a huge impact on your sexual health.

Last summer, the British Medical Journal published a study on body weight and its influence on sexual health and behaviors. French researchers, led by Nathalie Bajos of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicale in Paris, surveyed over 12,000 men and women by telephone, asking them about their weight and their sexual lives.

The people surveyed were divided into 3 groups depending on their body mass index (BMI):

  • Normal weight (BMI 18.5 to less than 25)
  • Overweight (BMI 25 to less than 30)
  • Obese (BMI 30 or over)

The researchers discovered the following:

  • Obese men were two and a half times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction than normal-weight men.
  • Obese men under age 30 were more likely to have had sexually transmitted infections in the past 5 years.
  • Obese women under age 30 were four times more likely to have unintended pregnancies than their normal-weight counterparts, even though they seemed to have sex less frequently.
  • Obese women were less likely to see their physicians for contraceptive advice and less likely to use effective contraceptive methods.

The authors were especially concerned about the obese women’s behaviors and felt that women feel a greater social stigma associated with weight. They also noted that healthcare providers should place greater emphasis on contraception, infection and counseling for this group.