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Health & Sex

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Size Counts When It Comes to Sex

Study: Being Too Thin or Fat Is Linked to Sexual Problems in Men, but Appears to Help Women

Women, Weight, and Sex continued...

Sexual problems tracked among women in the study including vaginal dryness, inability to orgasm, pain with intercourse, and vaginismus -- involuntary spasms that tighten or close the vagina.

“The differences between men and women with respect to sexual dysfunction were surprising,” says study researcher Morten Frisch, DSc, associate professor at the Staten Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark. “There may be a plausible explanation. Women who experience trouble may quit having sex altogether while men may continue, particularly into the older ages.”

Among other surprises in the study for women: Those who reported using marijuana in the last year were about three times more likely than those who did not to report being unable to orgasm.

And women were intense exercisers and competitive athletes were more than four times more likely than those who were light exercisers to report experiencing vaginismus.

“People know very well that these lifestyle factors are not good for their health in terms of heart disease and cancer and other things. Nevertheless, there is a continued consumption of these drugs and unhealthy lifestyles and they affect sexual health as well as physical health,” says Frisch.

The study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Tracking Sexual Health

For the study, researchers scoured data collected by the Danish Health and Morbidity Program, which randomly surveys citizens 16 years of age and older.

Study participants were interviewed in person and again later answered questions privately by questionnaire.

They were asked if they’d been sexually active with a partner within the last year. Those who had were then asked about the presence of sexual difficulties.

The study found that 18% of men and 23% of women had not had sex with a partner in the previous year.

For both men and women, being physically inactive was tied to a higher risk of also being sexually inactive.

Men who reported getting no exercise in their leisure time were 78% more likely than men reporting at least light physical activity to say they had not had sex with a partner in the last year.

Women who were physically inactive were about 45% more likely than light exercisers to report being sexually inactive.

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