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
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.
Smoking, Waist Size Affect Frequency of Sex
For women, other things that also increased the risk of being sexually inactive were smoking, being a teetotaler, and having a body mass index (BMI) over 30 or a waist size over 34 inches.
For men, having a very large waist size, over 40 inches, was also associated with a higher risk of being sexually inactive.
Sexually active women who reported any marijuana use within the past year were nearly three times as likely as those who didn’t use the drug to report being unable to orgasm.
Female athletes who were sexually active had nearly four times the odds of experiencing vaginismus.
For men, being underweight or obese, with a body mass index (BMI) under 20 or over 30, increased the odds of having regular trouble with erectile dysfunction (ED).
Men who were underweight were nearly eight times as likely to report frequent premature ejaculation as normal-weight men.
Male current or former smokers were nearly twice as likely as men who had never smoked to experience ED.
Researchers are careful to point out that their findings are only associations. They cannot prove that these lifestyle factors are causing the sexual problems, only that the two are occurring together.
But they say it’s likely that improving general health could also improve sexual health.
“Losing weight, getting in better shape, coughing less, being less exhausted when you get back home, it’s plausible that you may improve your general health and your sex life,” Frisch says. “I think those things go together.”