But cultural messages also continue to tell us that no one bigger than a
size 6 should be singing the siren song of sexuality. Much like oil and water,
being overweight and sexy just don't mix. For those already struggling with
weight and image issues, that powerful message can easily throw a wet blanket
on even the most active libido.
By Lindsey Palmer
Can taking a break from making love actually improve your sex life? Sex
therapist and REDBOOK Love Network expert Ian Kerner, Ph.D., proposes just that
in his new book, Sex Detox. Here, Kerner explains how it works:
"Unfortunately, people are internalizing society's definition of what it
takes to be involved in sex, particularly the body shape -- there are clearly
societal biases out there that are influencing us on an individual level and
not in a good way, " says Martin Binks, PhD, a clinical psychologist and
director of behavioral health at Duke University's Diet and Fitness Center in
But it turns out that cultural messages aren't the whole story. New research
suggests certain physical conditions that go along with obesity also affect sex
drive, further dampening the desires of those who are overweight. The good
news: You can make some changes to your body (and how you think about your
body) to enhance your libido. You can:
Lose a little weight, even 10 pounds, to stimulate sex hormones
Eat more nutritious foods, which control cholesterol and blood sugar
Key your workouts to getting blood flowing to the pelvic area
Pick up a sexy novel and start reading
Accept your body at any size
Believe in your sensuality
How to begin? Start by identifying the physical and psychological obstacles
that could be standing in your way to a fulfilling sex life.
How Too Much Weight Hampers Sex Drive
According to a recent study conducted by Binks and his colleagues at Duke,
up to 30% of obese people seeking help controlling their weight indicate
problems with sex drive, desire, performance, or all three. Often, the latest
research shows, these problems can be traced to physical conditions that
co-exist with obesity.
"Medical conditions such as high cholesterol and insulin resistance [an
early indicator of type 2 diabetes] do have the ability to impact sexual
performance, which in turn impacts desire, particularly in men," says
Andrew McCollough, MD, director of sexual health and male infertility at NYU
Medical Center in New York.
Because both conditions can cause the tiny arteries in the penis to shut
down, particularly when vessel-clogging fatty deposits begin to form,
McCollough says impotence or erectile dysfunction is often the result.
"A man who has problems having an erection is going to lose his desire
for sex in not too long a time," says McCollough.