Obesity Effects Sex

The effects of obesity are far-reaching. For people with obesity, sex drive can be affected both physically and mentally. Cultural attitudes towards beauty and sexuality conflict with the idea that the obese can be sexual, often affecting obese individuals’ body image.

Social Attitudes, Obesity and Sex

Western culture equates thinness and fitness with beauty and sexuality. According to most advertising and entertainment mediums, “thin is sexy.” Such messages come with an unspoken subtext: If thin is sexy, then obesity isn’t.

Because of these pervasive attitudes, people have difficulty with the idea that the obese and overweight have sexual desire. Some may feel unreasonable disgust.

Unfortunately, these commonplace ideas affect the obese as much as they do people of “normal” weight. These popular attitudes may cause obese individuals to develop a poor body image, which can affect sex drive. Feeling undesirable greatly affects libido.

Effects of Obesity and ED

The effects of obesity on one’s sex drive are physical as well as mental. Researchers have discovered a link between male obesity and ED (erectile dysfunction).

A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (2008) notes that obese men have lower testosterone levels than their counterparts of normal weight. In addition to abnormal penile blood flow, two complications of obesity, high cholesterol and insulin resistance, support the link between obesity and ED. The inability to maintain an erection can reduce male sex drive, as it’s one of the most embarrassing effects of obesity.

Female Obesity: Sex Drive

A woman’s libido can be affected by obesity. Sex drive problems in obese women seem to be tied more to body image and emotions than physical conditions. For both male and female sufferers of obesity, physical effects of obesity may impair sex drive.

Excess body fat results in higher than normal levels of a hormone called sex hormone binding globulin, which binds to testosterone in both men and women, influencing the sex drive in both.

Obesity, Sex Drive and Increasing Libido

Luckily, you may be able to defy the relationship between obesity and sex drive. Losing just 10 pounds appears to stimulate sex hormones. Exercise and a healthy diet can increase energy levels, which can also improve libido.

Most importantly, if you suffer from obesity, your sex drive may improve if you accept your body as is. Weight need not affect sensuality, despite pop culture’s messages about obesity and sex.


Bouchez, C. (n.d.). Better sex: What’s weight got to do with it? Retrieved June 8, 2010, from http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=56044.

Medical News Today. (2008). Link found between obesity and erectile dysfunction. Retrieved June 14, 2010, from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/127242.php.

Swain, J. (2004). Low libido. Retrieved June 8, 2010, from http://health.usnews.com/usnews/health/briefs/obesity/hb041207c.htm.