Individuals with severe obesity are 25 times more likely to report problems with sexual relationships compared to normal weight people.
Sarah Varney’s new book XL Love: How the Obesity Crisis Is Complicating America’s Love Life, goes beyond the typical statistics related to obesity and delves into how obesity impacts physical and intimate relationships. Through her two and a half years of research Varney discovered that obesity impacts sexual relationships in several ways.
- Physical barriers – The larger size and shape of partners bodies can make certain positions more difficult or challenging and can be a deterrent to intimacy. While some positions might be impossible, couples should not lose hope, instead keep trying new possibilities. Also physical size can limit stamina.
- Health issues and medications- Common comorbidities to obesity such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, hypertension, depression, dementia and other ailments can affect sexual function. Also medications used to treat those condition can cause sexual dysfunction.
- Hormone imbalance – Excess fat can lead to changes in hormone levels. Decreased testosterone levels in men can cause erectile dysfunction. In women, changes in estrogen levels affects their menstrual cycle and fertility.
- Body image – Excess weight and excess skin after losing weight can cause individuals to have negative body image and not feel comfortable with their partners seeing them without clothes.
The subjects of the book spoke openly about their experiences. Dana Englehardt told Varney that at 265 pounds she felt indifferent to her husbands advances, eventually her husband stop trying. However, even after undergoing bariatric surgery, Dana realized losing weight did not resolve her sexual issues. She sought therapy for body image issues, and marriage counseling to help her relationship.
“I just thought losing the weight would solve all that. I wouldn’t have all these hang-ups,” Englehardt said.
Englehart’s experience illustrates that while obesity can impact intimacy, individuals of any weight can experience sexual and relationships issues. For those who develop issues after weight gain, merely losing that weight does not often resolve the problem. Emotional and body image issues affect people of all sizes, but can be successful treated with counseling.
Sources: LeTrent, Sarah. “‘XL Love': How fat is affecting our sex lives.” 22 July 2014. CNN Living.
Dutta, Nirmalya. “10 reasons losing weight is great for your sex life.” 8 April 2013. The Health Site.
At the 2014 ObesityHelp National Conference there was a lot to celebrate! “We have been sponsors of the ObesityHelp National Conference for the past two years, both of those years, we have sponsored a giveaway raffle for a free Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy (VSG) surgery! We know that not everyone can afford surgery, so we like to provide an opportunity […]
Hospitals across the country are creating specialized bariatric emergency room treatment areas to better accommodate patients affected by obesity. In addition, to improved care for patients, the specialized areas will also protect staff when lifting and moving patients. The treatment rooms are equipped with larger beds, floor mounted toilets, high capacity scales, and lifts that […]
Do you think about exercise as work or play? On the surface it might not appear to make a difference, exercise is exercise, right? But recent studies found that people who focused on physical activity as exercise consumed more calories post activity than those who focused on the activity as enjoyment. Engaging in a physical […]
Many of us who are bariatric patients have had a lifelong struggle with obesity. I’m no different. I had been morbidly obese for most of my life, and during a time when obesity was most often seen as a character flaw, or for a child, indictment of the parents for “allowing” their child to gain […]
Receiving an insurance denial for weight loss surgery can be upsetting news for many patients. Often patients have invested months into preparation for the chance to have life changing and saving surgery only to receive a big “no”. However, a denial does not mean all hope is gone. While the reasons for denials vary, here […]
Weight loss surgery has been a life-transforming gateway for hundreds of thousands of people. New activities. New wardrobes. New relationships. The list goes on! Some of these victories wind up having more of a shorter-term impact. One transformation of longer-term significance, however, is that of attaining a new career. Katie Miskulin and Anna Hazinakis are […]
NYC may have Fashion Week but we had the Old Hollywood Fashion Show! Have you ever been to an ObesityHelp Conference Fashion Show? The Fashion Show is an experience of a lifetime! Members share their transformation, style and success on the runway, cheered on by fellow members in the audience. The room is filled with energy, […]
According to CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data from 2011-2012 childhood obesity rates among ages 2-19 years old have remained unchanged since 2003-2004. However, among toddlers aged 2-5 years obesity rates have declined. The 2-5 year age group also has a lower rate of obesity as compared to other age groups. Approximately […]
We would like to thank our amazing 2014 ObesityHelp National Conference speakers. Your experiences and expertise were important contributions to help us educate, inspire and support the ObesityHelp community! Conference Emcee: Diana Vogel, MS, MFT, Intern Diana conference highlights: Emceed the entire OH2014 Conference, with her one-of-a-kind personality and dedication to the bariatric community, Diana was the glue […]