You don’t have to look very far these days to find a graphic description of what “sexy” is. Turn on the T.V, the internet, or just walk down the street, and you’re constantly bombarded with sexually explicit images of people with “ideal” bodies, oozing with sexual charisma. Sex in our society is perhaps the most fundamental validation of our social structure and often sets the bar when it comes to our competence as social beings. Whether you’re a housewife, a student, an accountant, or even a doctor, there is always some level of sexual expectation that is directly or indirectly associated with our behavior, our image, and our knowledge of sexuality. What is more troubling is that younger and younger teens and children are also being bombarded with these sexual expectations and often developing unhealthy, and possibly immoral sexual ideals. However, in this article I wanted to focus on how those of us struggling with weight issues deal with these impossible expectations, and the impact that obesity has on our physical and psychological sexual health.
When it comes to physical health, infertility sits high on the ranks of medical problems associated with being overweight. For women, disorders such as PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome) often coincides with an unhealthy weight. Cysts develop in the ovaries and often interfere with normal ovulation. Also, associated hormone imbalances due to PCOS can interfere with normal implantation of an embryo. Although doctors can prescribe various medications to help with this problem, most often the first line of therapy is weight loss by the patient’s own efforts in order to minimize side effects of medication. What many doctors don’t take into consideration is that just because you prescribe weight loss doesn’t mean it’s an easy task. For patients who are looking to lose weight and get pregnant, it’s also important to maintain the weightloss with proper nutrition and an active lifestyle. Weight loss due to starvation or other fad diets are not only harmful to the patient, but also to the development of the future baby.
When it comes to men, new studies have shown that there is a correlation between obesity and decreased sex drive, as well as infertility. Infertility in this case means that sperm count and quality is low. Once again, added weight means a higher level of cholesterol which is the starting molecule of hormones. Therefore, the hormone levels become imbalanced (decreased testosterone, increased estrogen) and there may be a decreased amount of sperm created. Having a slower metabolism due to obesity also decreases one’s sex drive and makes it difficult for a man to maintain an erection.
The good news however is that if the weight loss issue is tended to, the associated sexual dysfunctions and fertility problems can often subside. The added benefit of becoming more active and eating well is that it does a great deal for the psyche. Regardless of what the poster ads say, “sexy” doesn’t start on the outside with a brand name pair of jeans or underwear – it starts in your head. Many people struggling with their weight often avoid sex because of their insecurities with their bodies. They don’t like the way they look and therefore are convinced that others see them the same way (even if they don’t). Women are often the most critical about their body image and thus many of them struggling with weight loss also suffer with low self esteem and depression. However, research shows that even a small change in our physique can have a snowballing effect on our motivation and self esteem, and thus there is no such thing as insignificant results – Every bit counts! Having confidence in the way we look (especially after having lost some weight) creates a surge of sexual energy and confidence. That increase in sexual energy in turn helps our bodies emit phermones and help us become more attractive to others.
Losing weight also benefits the physical dynamics of sex. Many couples suffering from obesity are often embarrassed to admit that it can be difficult in physically “making their bodies fit” to one another. It can also create difficulty in terms of stamina and reaching orgasms. These types of problems can have devastating effects on a relationship and can make a couple feel isolated and detached from one another. In such instances it may also be beneficial to have a registered sex therapist offer advice on how to overcome these obstacles. But for those couples who seek to lose weight together, it can be a very motivating experience that also helps strengthen a relationship.
For many people sex can be a very controversial and difficult topic. However the fact remains that sex needs to be a normal and healthy part of our adult lives. Regardless of our gender, race, culture, or religious views, as individuals we need to learn what healthy sex is, and more importantly what we need to do in order to maintain our sexual health. It’s also important for those of us struggling with weight related medical and sexual problems to voice our concerns to our doctors so that we can obtain the proper information to improve our health.
Regardless of what the advertisers, hollywood, or pop stars will have you believe, with the right information, guidance, and attitude – anyone can bring sexy back.