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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sexuality, Obesity & Weight Loss

There is a recurring topic in weight loss surgery communities about how weight loss affects our sexual health and sex life. Right now we are talking about it again in the LivingAfterWLS Neighborhood, read here: Obesity, Weight Loss & Sexuality. Here is one of my previously published articles on this topic:

Sex Is Better After Weight Loss Surgery
By Kaye Bailey

There is no question that obesity affects all aspects of our lives, including our sexuality. A Duke University study concluded that 65 percent of obese people seeking treatment reported an impaired sex life. Physical causes exist that impair sexual function in the overweight. Obesity can alter testosterone levels in men and increase their risk of impotence. Morbid obesity can result in back pain and depression - both of which reduce sex drive. And the obvious, obese men and women can have difficulty positioning for sexual intercourse.

In addition to physical impairments we have social and emotional impairments. Sexy is seldom depicted as obese and never as morbidly obese. Because we compare ourselves with the social ideal of sexy we feel body conscious, self-loathing and undesirable. One community member, Jan*, said, "Most of us have been obese all our lives and never experienced the normal teenage years of sexual tension. We were often never asked out on dates, never flirted with or only offered sex by people who did not love us, but we misunderstood their intentions due to our insecurities."

Weight Loss Improves Sex Lives for Many
Recent studies indicate that even modest weight loss may improve the sex lives of many obese people. Participants in a study conducted by the Obesity Society in Vancouver, Canada reported that participants who lost on average 17.5 percent of their body weight reported improved sex lives.

Mike*, one of our LivingAfterWLS community members, said he enjoyed a loving and devoted relationship with his wife of 26 years, but they did not have a sexually intimate relationship. "The reason was clear," he said, "I had ballooned to 368 pounds and was embarrassed to even attempt to be intimate with my 5'3" 109 pound wife. I was sure she had no interest in having sex with a ‘fatty' like me. My self-esteem was shot. I lost all confidence in myself. Needless to say, our sex life was zero."

In February Mike underwent WLS to improve his health and lost 110 pounds in seven months. He said, "I decided to make the plunge and indicate to my wife my 'intentions'. It was a bit awkward at first but then WOW! We had the best sex we have ever had in our marriage. It's been amazing." He says their relationship changed over night and they are making up for lost time. "I feel so guilty now that my wife stayed with me all this time, not being able to enjoy a good sex life. Besides the obvious benefits of health improvement I have more incentive to continue on my new lifestyle. And believe me, it's worth it!"

Mike's weight loss and improved sex drive resulted in a favorable change to his marriage. But that isn't always the case after weight loss. Maryann is married to a man with a heart condition that is treated with medications that cause sexually dysfunction. She said, "As I lost weight my sex drive went to overdrive. He couldn't perform. At the same time I was receiving more and more attention from men. It led to an affair." Maryann recently ended the affair and said, "I love my husband very much and cannot believe I allowed myself to stray. I found out the grass is not greener on the other side."

*Name changed per request of the subject.

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1 comment:

bluebird said...

Immediately after losing the majority of my weight, our sex lives improved dramatically, HOWEVER... as the weight came off, and I was left with this horrid belly flap, I began to crawl inside myself again. Its the most disheartening thing about our most magical weight loss; not being able to afford the plastic surgery AFTER the weight loss. Just thought I'd throw out MY opinion.