Obesity Increases Unplanned Pregnancies and STDs

A new study links being overweight to sexual health risks

Being obese can really get in the way of your sex life—and not necessarily in the ways you might think. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, people who are obese are less likely to have been sexually active in the past year, but surprisingly, they're more likely than people with an average body weight to have sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. I'm no rocket scientist, but something tells me those are the results of not practicing safe sex.

Researchers in France surveyed 12,364 men and women between the ages of 18 and 69. Half of the participants were in the normal weight range, while the rest were overweight or obese. The survey showed that obese women were 30 percent less likely to have had sex at all in the past year, while obese men were 70 percent less likely to have had more than one sexual partner.

Despite spending less time frolicking between the sheets, single obese women reported unplanned pregnancies four times more often than thinner, unmarried women. That's because obese women are less inclined to seek birth control advice or use oral contraceptives, say the study’s authors. Research presented at the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists 58th Annual Clinical Meeting last month backs up these findings. Data from the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that obese and overweight adolescent girls are less likely to use condoms or other birth control methods.

Chalk it up to low self-esteem. Past research has shown that obesity is related to poor body image, which is associated with high-risk sexual behavior, like unsafe sex. And it's not just women. The French survey also showed that obese men were much more apt to have had an STD, despite fewer sexual partners.

Though weight did not appear to affect women's ability to climax, erectile dysfunction was two and a half times as common in obese men as in men with healthy BMIs. Because the penis requires healthy blood flow to become erect, ED can often be a sign of undiagnosed heart disease or circulation issues—all the more reason why someone with ED symptoms should put their embarrassment aside and talk to their doctor.

No matter how much you weigh, or how you feel about your body, these studies underscore how important it is to always put your health first. We all hate exposing our flabby imperfections to strangers—whether it's the gynecologist or our latest crush. Still, regular doctor's visits, and a satisfying sex life, can help keep us healthy and happy. If losing weight helps get you there, even better. But even if you can't get the scale to budge, never let those extra pounds diminish your value. That’s not the way to hotter sex. Loving yourself is.

Does how you feel about your body affect your sex life? Chime in below!

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