July 7, 2010
For both men and women, obesity inflicts a wide range of challenges related to sex and reproduction, reports a team of French and British researchers.
Compared with those of normal weight, obese women were less likely to have had a sexual partner in the previous 12 months (Odds ratio [OR] 0.71, Confidence interval [CI] 0.51?0.97). During that same time period, obese men were about a third as likely to have more than one sexual partner (OR 0.31, CI 0.17-0.57).
Obese women were less likely to seek contraception from a health care provider (OR 0.37, CI 0.18-0.76 for women ages 18-29, OR 0.37, CI 0.24-0.57 for women ages 30-49). Obese women under 30 were less likely than normal-weight women to use oral contraceptives, (OR 0.34, CI 0.15-0.78), a distinction that did not appear among women ages 30-49. Overweight women were less likely to have used condoms in the past 12 months than women of normal weight.
Study data were drawn from a population-based survey of 10,170 men and women ages 18-69 living in France during 2006. Of these, 411 women and 350 men were classified as obese, having a body mass index greater than 30.
"In public health terms, the study lends a new slant to a familiar message: that obesity can harm not only health and longevity but your sex life," said British gynecologist Sandy Goldbeck-Wood in an editorial accompanying the study. "And culturally, it reminds us clinicians and researchers to look at the subjects we find difficult."
The report and editorial, "Sexuality and Obesity, a General Perspective: Results from French National Random Probability Survey of Sexual Behaviors" and "Obesity and Poor Sexual Health Outcomes," were published in the British Medical Journal (2010;340:c2573 doi:10.1136/bmj.c2573) and (2010;340:c2826 doi:10.1136/bmj.c2826).
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