Sat | Oct 20, 2018

Obesity hurts your SEX LIFE

Published:Tuesday | December 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Christmas is a time when people gain weight and, sadly, many Jamaicans still associate obesity with good health and sex appeal.

However, it has been very well established that obesity puts the individual at an increased risk of a long list of diseases.

Authorities now consider obesity to have replaced cigarette smoking as the commonest preventable cause of death.

Many also associate being fat with being sexy. Little publicity has been given to the fact that obesity can also interfere with your sex life. Researchers at Duke University's Diet and Fitness Center in the United States reported that in many areas of their sex lives, the obese report 25 times more problems than people of normal weight.

Both men and women complained of lack of sexual desire and enjoyment, along with poor performance. In fact, many fat people reported avoiding sex completely.

But let me provide some consolation to our ladies - the location of your excess fat is important. The fat around the hips and buttocks is not considered hazardous to your health. Truncal or abdominal obesity creates most problems. It is often called apple-shaped obesity in distinction to pear-shaped. It is that 'fat around our waist that will shorten your life in a haste'.

Research shows that a waist measurement of over 39 inches in men, and more than 34 inches in women, will increase your risk of these problems by a whopping 500 per cent.

Let's look at some reasons why obesity may compromise your sex life:

Health problems:

The obese are at increased risk of many diseases and, in general, the poorer your health, the worse your sex life. This is especially true for illnesses involving the heart and circulation, as good blood flow is a major requirement for good sex. (Viagra improves erections by chemically increasing blood flow).

Poor circulation

Even when you have not been formally diagnosed with heart disease, hypertension, diabetes or abnormal blood lipids, if you are obese, it is highly probable that your circulation is already compromised.

In addition to poor blood flow, diabetics also suffer from damage to nerve endings and a decreased responsiveness to sexual stimulation. Sadly, the obesity epidemic has brought with it the diabesity epidemic.

Also, many of the drugs used to treat these diseases further impair sexual function.

Fitness problems:

The sexual act involves increased physical activity. Low energy levels, shortness of breath, muscle cramps, dizziness and fatigue, during and after intercourse, are all signs of the lack of fitness that are characteristic of many obese individuals. Because fat cells promote inflammation, generalised aches and pains, stiffness and inflammation is more pronounced in the obese. Gross obesity will sometimes create major problems for partners to find a workable position for sexual activity.

Hormonal imbalance:

Our libido or sexual interest is greatly influenced by our sex hormones - testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone, to name the commonest ones.

Obesity promotes hormonal imbalance in both men and women. The fat cells around the waist are not just accumulations of fat, they produce hormones, particularly the primary female hormone oestrogen.

This creates a situation where an obese man may have very high levels of female hormones and low levels of the male hormone testosterone. This is partly because the fat cells in the belly are rich in an enzyme called aromatase that converts testosterone to oestrogen.

To make things worse, many chemicals in our diet and environment behave like oestrogen. These chemicals are fat soluble and accumulate in the fatty tissues in the body. All this leads to a situation where fat men are hormonally more like females, resulting in a decreased sex drive and weak erections.

Other issues

Fat women may have other kinds of hormonal problems leading to menstrual disorders, infertility, ovarian cysts, excess facial and body hair, acne and painful sex.

Smaller penis:

As fat accumulates on the lower abdomen in men, the apparent size of the penis changes.

"A large prepubic fat pad makes the penile shaft look shorter," said Dr Ira Sharlip, professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco.

In some cases, abdominal fat all but buries the penis," states Dr Ronald Tamler of the Men's Health Program in New York.

This should be a powerful motivation for overweight men as they can appear to gain up to an inch in the size of their penis simply by losing weight.

Poor self image:

Research show that obese individuals are more likely to suffer from low self-esteem and poor self-worth. This kind of emotional disability does not foster good sex. Although many men find big women attractive and consider curves and love handles appealing, it is more common for partners of obese people to find them less sexually attractive because of weight gain. They often deny or suppress these feelings to prevent hurt and avoid confrontation.

In reality, however, this denial blocks communication, and only harms the relationship. Partners of obese individuals have a responsibility to help address the issue, if for no other reason than the many health dangers that obesity causes.

I suggest a simple, safe, doctor-recommended, nutritional approach, cellular nutrition to both lose and manage your weight. It comes with a personal weight-loss coach and is available all over the island and the world.

Warmest seasons greetings to all readers.

n You may email Dr Vendryes at or listen to An Ounce of Prevention on POWER106FM, on Fridays , at 8:15 pm. His new book ,'An Ounce of Prevention - Mainly for Men', is available from or local bookstores.