There are many different factors that go into sexual desire. Feeling romanced, finding a trusting relationship, sharing an attraction with your partner, and avoiding stress can all play a significant role in boosting your libido. But there is also a great deal of evidence that weight plays a role in libido as well, and those that lose weight may be able to restore their sexual desire and engage in more intimate behaviors.
How Obesity Affects Libido
The human body is an incredible machine, but it is not designed to handle significant amounts of weight. Those with obesity often trigger the development of numerous chemical changes inside of their body, including insulin resistance (related to diabetes), high cholesterol, and hormonal changes throughout the body – including lower testosterone, which is directly linked to sex drive.
Many of these conditions can also cause small blockages in the arteries in the genitals, with decreased blood flow, and can affect both men and women. For men, when there is less blood flow there is less physical arousal, which can quickly turn into less mental arousal as well. For women, lack of blood flow to the clitoris is directly connected to a lack of sexual stimulation.
These are only some of many potential contributors to a low sex drive in those that have obesity. Other potential factors include:
- Confidence – Obesity has a tendency to create body confidence issues, and low body confidence correlates a great deal with a loss of libido.
- Mental Health – Those that struggle with obesity are also more at risk for anxiety, depression, and stress. Studies have consistently shown that struggling with your mental health can play a role in your libido.
- Sleep Quality – Those with obesity tend to sleep for less time and have a lower quality sleep than those without obesity. Sleep plays a critical role in sexual desire.
- Physical and Mental Fatigue – Tiredness can also affect libido, and those with obesity are more likely to struggle with fatigue, including a tired mind and tired muscles.
Regardless of the cause, it’s clear that those that struggle with obesity are at greater risk for low libido.
Bariatric surgery – also known as weight loss surgery – is the most effective strategy for losing excess weight in obese individuals when diet and exercise have been unsuccessful. The average excess weight loss for bariatric surgery procedures is as much as 65% or more, and the success rate in fighting obesity-related diseases is often as high as 90%+ – including diseases such as diabetes.
Studies have shown that losing only a small amount of weight can have a marked improvement in both libido and contributing factors – including an increase in testosterone. Studies of obese women found that after weight loss, androgens (hormones responsible for sex drive) returned to healthy levels, and studies of men found that men that lost weight saw an increase in sex hormone levels as well.
These results are consistent with studies that looked at some of the other issues that affect libidos, such as depression and anxiety. One study found that depressive symptoms decreased in women following bariatric surgery, which then also corresponded with an increase in both sexual desire and satisfaction.
An individual’s libido is based on a combination of many different dynamics. But research has consistently shown that obesity can lead to poor libido, and losing weight can contribute to an improved libido. Those that are already considering bariatric surgery and have struggled with their sex drive are likely to find an improvement after weight loss surgery.