A recent study found that 30% of people tackling obesity may also have problems with sexual performance – but it’s never too late to start rebuilding your sexual confidence, and many people find that after they’ve lost weight their energy levels and libido increase.
‘Medical conditions such as high cholesterol do have the ability to impact sexual performance and desire, particularly in men,’ says Andrew McCollough, director of sexual health and male infertility at NYU Medical Center in New York.
‘Obesity-related issues can cause the tiny arteries in the penis to shut down, particularly when vessel-clogging fatty deposits begin to form. Impotence or erectile dysfunction is often the result.’
Research also shows overweight women’s sex drive and desire are affected by the same problem. ‘We are beginning to see that the width of the blood vessels leading to the clitoris in women is affected by the same kind of blockages that impact blood flow to the penis,’ says Susa Kellogg, PhD, director of sexual medicine at the Pelvic and Sexual Health Institute of Philadelphia. ‘When this happens a woman’s body is far less responsive, and a drop in desire is not far behind.’
The Big O
Even when they are having sex, it’s more often women who find themselves having disappointing results. While the majority of healthy men enjoy regular orgasms, the female orgasm is far more elusive. In the mid ‘90s, psychoanalyst Christine Webber and GP Dr David Devlin did a number of surveys for their book, The Big O.
They recognised that having an orgasm was not necessarily easy for women and many resorted to regular faking. Some 10% of women surveyed said they’d never had an orgasm.
Of course, one obvious way to tackle the problem is to build more intimacy in the bedroom and try to lose potentially long-held sexual inhibitions.
Change your positioning
‘Many people get stuck in the missionary position because they don’t feel their bodies are so exposed,’ explains Dr Spurr. ‘I’d like to encourage men and women of all ages and sizes to build some confidence. The key is to take things slowly. If you’re feeling shy use dimmer switches and candles to create flattering lighting. If you’re shy about being completely naked, get into bed in your negligee or underwear and let your partner remove it for you – something they’ll also enjoy doing.
‘Once your sexual confidence grows, you may find that you’re ready to try different positions. Many people avoid positions such as the doggy position or the woman on top because they feel so vulnerable when their wobbly bits are on display. If you’d like to try more revealing sexual positions but feel nervous about it, just ease yourself into them.
Trying the ‘spoons’ position is a good idea to start with because the man is behind, but still cuddled up close, so unable to see his partner’s bottom. If a woman is anxious about going on top, she could start by doing a reverse missionary position, lying on her partner, until she feels confident enough to sit up.
‘Take things step by step. Try a massage. Sensual touching is a very good way of restoring or rebuilding sexual intimacy. Another good tip is to make sure you look into each other’s eyes, both when in bed and when you’re just speaking to each other. This helps you reconnect.’