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    Does weight gain affect libido?

    On this page
    1. The relationship between weight and libido (sex drive)
    2. How to improve your sex drive if you’re struggling with weight gain

    Reviewed by Dr Bhavini Shah

    Studies show that weight plays a role in sexual dysfunction (problems with desire, arousal, orgasm, and sexual pain). We will talk through how weight affects your sex drive, and what you can do about it.

    Does weight gain affect libido

    The relationship between weight and libido (sex drive)

    If you are overweight or obese, you are at greater risk of conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and depression. These conditions can affect your sex drive.

    Society’s image of the ‘ideal body’ may also mean that you have a negative self-image. This can be tough to deal with, and it’s not surprising that it can lower libido.

    Diabetes 

    Diabetes.org explains that diabetes can be tiring and cause low moods. If your diabetes is affecting your sleep or mood, your libido may drop. Tiredness plays a major role in libido.

    If you have diabetes, you may be at risk of diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage). This can make it more difficult for men to get and keep an erection, and worrying about this may affect libido. Research has shown a significant link between low testosterone levels and type 2 diabetes in men. Testosterone is the main male sex hormone and plays an important role in sex drive and sexual performance.

    Both men and women with diabetic neuropathy may also find it difficult to experience sexual stimulation, and not enjoy sex as much because of this.

    High blood pressure

    Over time, high blood pressure causes arteries to narrow and harden. This reduces blood flow. Reduced blood flow can make it harder for men to get and maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction). The emotional side effects of this can cause low libido.

    Some people taking the blood pressure tablets, propranolol, say that their sex drive goes down. However, this is not listed as a common side effect, and there is limited information on this topic.

    High cholesterol

    A lower sex drive is sometimes a reported side effect of statins. Statins are medicines that reduce the ‘bad cholesterol’ in the blood. Find out more about lowering high cholesterol

    Studies show that statins can improve erectile dysfunction but may also make it worse. More research is needed on this topic.

    Depression and anxiety

    Research shows that there is a link between depression and obesity. It is not clear what the link is, but we do know that they seem to make each other worse. Depression can cause a loss of libido, and some anti-depressants can make it harder to become aroused and orgasm.

    How to improve your sex drive if you’re struggling with weight gain

    The first thing we recommend doing is talking to your GP. To begin with, they may recommend some lifestyle or treatment changes. If it's not clear what’s causing your low sex-drive, they may want to do some tests. For example, to check that diabetes or blood pressure is being managed properly.

    Losing weight can also help your libido and improve some health conditions. If it’s possible, start up an exercise routine and change your diet. We recommend talking to your doctor before making any drastic changes.

    Talking with your partner is also a good starting point. An open and honest conversation can help with your emotional connection. This can lead to better sex. Some people find that relationship counselling helps too.

    As well as conversations with your GP and partner, it’s also worth spending some time reflecting on what you think is the root of the problem. This could help you to get the right support and lead a more fulfilling sex life.

    References

    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17233791/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6771291/
    https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity/
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5644896/
    https://www.diabetes.org.uk/guide-to-diabetes/life-with-diabetes/sex-and-diabetes
    https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4023379/
    https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/propranolol/
    https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/ask-the-experts/statins-and-sex
    https://www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/when-an-ssri-medication-impacts-your-sex-life
    https://www.relate.org.uk/sex-counselling  

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    Authors and editors

    • Reviewed and updated by

      Dr Bhavini Shah
      GMC number: 7090158
      Date reviewed: 13th June 2024

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