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Sexual Health Center

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Study: Obese People Have Less Sex, but Risky Sex

French Study Finds Obesity Has a Negative Impact on Sexual Health


Bajos notes that women are often under greater social pressure to keep their weight down, and that low self-esteem and worries about body image may factor into these outcomes.Excess weight and clinical obesity is a major public health threat in the United States. More than two-thirds of all adults either have a BMI higher than 25 or above 30.

The association between obesity and erectile dysfunction had been reported in other studies before, but the association between obesity and unintended pregnancies is not as well known. Bajos and her team said their findings have significant public health implications.

“The scale of the problem and the magnitude of the effects (particularly the fourfold increase in risk of unintended pregnancy among obese women) warrants focused attention,” the researchers write. “In terms of targeting advice and care, a considerable proportion of the population is obese, is easily identified as such, and is at increased risk in terms of poorer sexual health status.”

Bajos and her team also point out that the economic climate could also have public health consequences.

“Obesity is emerging as one of the fastest-growing pandemics in modern times. The current economic downturn might lead to reduced nutritional quality and physical activity, further increasing the prevalence of obesity and related health costs in the coming years.”

In an accompanying editorial, Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, an associate specialist in psychosexual medicine at Ipswich Hospital in the U.K, writes that even in modern times, discussing sex with a doctor is still awkward for patients, and doctors are often unprepared.

“We need to understand more about how obese people feel about their sex lives, and what drives the observed behaviors and attitudes,” she writes. “In public health terms, the study lends a new slant to a familiar message: that obesity can harm not only health and longevity, but your sex life. And culturally, it reminds us as clinicians and researchers to look at the subjects we find difficult.”

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