What's Weight Got to Do with It? Being overweight does affect your libido. But small changes can jump-start your sex drive. Looking, feeling, acting, and just being sexy is the order of the day. Can you walk away impotence? Go Italian for a better love life But cultural messages also continue to tell us that no one bigger than a size 6 should be singing the siren song of sexuality. Much like oil and water, being overweight and sexy just don't mix. For those already struggling with weight and image issues, that powerful message can easily throw a wet blanket on even the most active libido.
But it turns out that cultural messages aren't the whole story. New research suggests certain physical conditions that go along with obesity also affect sex drive , further dampening the desires of those who are overweight. You can make some changes to your body and how you think about your body to enhance your libido.
Lose a little weight, even 10 pounds, to stimulate sex hormones Eat more nutritious foods, which control cholesterol and blood sugar levels Key your workouts to getting blood flowing to the pelvic area Pick up a sexy novel and start reading Accept your body at any size Believe in your sensuality How to begin? Start by identifying the physical and psychological obstacles that could be standing in your way to a fulfilling sex life. Often, the latest research shows, these problems can be traced to physical conditions that co-exist with obesity.
Continued "Medical conditions such as high cholesterol and insulin resistance [an early indicator of type 2 diabetes ] do have the ability to impact sexual performance, which in turn impacts desire, particularly in men," says Andrew McCollough, MD, director of sexual health and male infertility at NYU Medical Center in New York.
Because both conditions can cause the tiny arteries in the penis to shut down, particularly when vessel-clogging fatty deposits begin to form, McCollough says impotence or erectile dysfunction is often the result. Men aren't alone with sex problems caused by poor blood flow.
Research shows overweight women's sex drive and desire are affected by the same problem. When this happens, says Kellogg, a woman's body is far less responsive, and a drop in desire is not far behind. Complicating matters further for both sexes: The more body fat you have, the higher your levels of a natural chemical known as SHBG short for sex hormone binding globulin. It's aptly named because it binds to the sex hormone testosterone.
Doctors theorize that the more testosterone that is bound to SHBG, the less there is available to stimulate desire. Experts say losing as few as 10 pounds can often free up testosterone and almost immediately give a boost to your love life. Making the same diet changes -- such as following a low-fat diet and eating lots of fruit and vegetables -- that help get blood sugar and cholesterol under control can also help turn your sex drive around -- even if you don't lose weight.
Continued Says Binks, "I've noted that very often when patients start to take better care of themselves, they also report a substantial increase in their interest in sex -- I think participation in a healthy lifestyle really helps, even if you don't lose the extra pounds.
The result, she says, is more lubrication, better arousal, and better orgasmic function. And ultimately a return of sexual desire. Kellogg also tells WebMD that women might consider supplementing their sexy workout with a little light erotic reading for 20 minutes three times a week.
To focus attention back on sex and improve both drive and desire. If that's taking up all your thoughts, there is no room to think about sex, no matter what your shape or size," says Kellogg. For some people, getting physical problems under control is all it takes to fan the flames of desire. For others, it's still not quite enough.
Experts say that one of the biggest obstacles to enjoying sex at any size is a poor body image. They caution that the inability to accept your weight and your size can leave you sleeping single in a double bed. Continued This is the kind of attitude, he says, that frequently causes overweight folks to feel so self-conscious about how they look that desire is completely inhibited. Psychologist and body-image expert Abby Aronowitz, PhD, agrees.
If one is fretting about this bulge or that bulge or how their butt looks from every angle, it's pretty difficult to enjoy the moment, much less be there for your partner," says Aronowitz, author of Your Final Diet. While body image can hamper both men and women, experts agree that women feel the impact more. In fact, Kellogg reports that even women who have loving partners can still view themselves as sexually unattractive if their body image doesn't conform to the "norm. Sexual Desire Still Missing?
Although small changes in lifestyle along with some healthy "self-talk" can go a long way toward improving both drive and desire, if you still can't think of yourself as desirable, some professional image counseling may be in order. The best place to start is often with your family doctor.
But if you feel you need more specialized help, experts say, don't hesitate to turn to a counselor with expertise in body image and weight issues. Above all, remember this: The key, says Aronowitz, is this: Abby Aronowitz, PhD, clinical psychologist specializing in body image. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, ; vol