Obesity Has Negative Impacts on Sexual Health, Behavior

Obese women under 30 have higher unplanned pregnancy rate, are less likely to use contraception
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, June 16 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity has negative impacts on sexual health in both men and women, and young obese women are less likely to use contraceptive health care services and more likely to have unplanned pregnancies, according to a study published June 15 in BMJ.

Nathalie Bajos, Ph.D., of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Medicale in Paris, and colleagues evaluated 5,535 women and 4,635 men to assess the link between body mass index (BMI) and sexual activity, sexual satisfaction, unintended pregnancies, and abortions. Among the sample population, 3,651 women and 2,725 men were normal weight (BMI from 18.5 to <25 kg/m²), 1,010 women and 1,488 men were considered overweight (BMI from 25 to <30 kg/m²), and 411 women and 350 men were categorized as obese (BMI >30 kg/m²).

The researchers found that obese women were less likely to have had a sexual partner in the last year (odds ratio [OR], 0.71) compared to normal weight women. In addition, obese women under the age of 30 were more likely to report an unintended pregnancy (OR, 4.26) and to have met their partner on the Internet (OR, 4.84), but less likely to use oral contraceptives (OR, 0.34) or seek health care services for contraception (OR, 0.37). Sexual dysfunction was not linked to BMI among women; however, obese men were more likely to experience erectile dysfunction (OR, 2.58) and less likely to have had more than one sexual partner in the past year (OR, 0.31), compared to normal weight men.

"Bajos and colleagues leave us with several new questions, the most pressing of which is whether these findings on contraceptive use and unplanned pregnancy are reproducible in other populations," writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

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