Women's health * Healthy living

Obesity link to unplanned pregnancies

overweight woman Accidental pregnancy four times more likely in obese women

Obesity can be bad for your sexual health, according to new research.

Obese women are four times more likley to have an unplanned pregnancy compared to normal weight women, despite having fewer partners.

And men who are obese are more likely to develop sexually transmitted diseases and suffer from erectile dysfunction compared with those of a normal weight.

The results come from the first major study to investigate the impact of being overweight or obese on sexual activity and sexual health.

Researchers from the National Institute of Health and Maedical Research, Paris questioned more than 12,000 French men and women aged 18 to 69 about their sexual experiences and calculated their body mass index (BMI).

Compared with normal weight women, obese women were 30 per cent less likely to have had a sexual partner in the last 12 months, but four times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy.

Obese women under the age of 30 were less likely to ask for contraceptive advice or to use oral contraception and five times more likely to have met their sexual partner on the internet.

Although obese men were 70 per cent less likely to have had more than one sexual partner in the same 12 month period, they were two and half times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction.

And obese men aged under 30 were far more likely to have had a sexually transmitted infection.

Social pressure, low self-esteem and concerns about body image may help explain the findings, said the researchers.

The study is published onlne in to-day's British Medical Journal.

In an accomanying editoral, Dr Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, a specialist in psychosexual medicine at Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust said that doctors should be more prepared to discuss sex and weight issues with patients. She said: "We need to understand more about how obese people feel about their sex lives, and what drives the observed behaviours and attitudes.”

And added: "Obesity can harm not only health and longevity, but your sex life. And culturally, it reminds us as clinicians and researchers to look at the subjects we find difficult.”

This article was published on Wed 16 June 2010

Image © Luis Louro - Fotolia.com

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