QUALITY OF LIFE, SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION, AND OBESITY
"Obesity is a disabling disease with significant sequelae in multiple domains, and our results suggest the need of awareness toward obesity-related disability and its impact on sexual life in obese subjects." The conclusion of an Italian study (Health-Related Quality of Life and Quality of Sexual Life in Obese Subjects) published in a 2014 issue of the International Journal of Endocrinology.
"Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) is a plasma glycoprotein with high binding affinity for testosterone. Obesity and particularly excess visceral fat, known risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, are associated with decreased testosterone levels in males and SHBG levels in both sexes. A positive association between SHBG and various measures of insulin sensitivity has been demonstrated in both sexes, suggesting that decreased SHBG levels may be one of the components of the metabolic syndrome." From a study (Synthesis and Regulation of Sex Hormone-Binding Globulin in Obesity) published in the June 2000 issue of the International Journal of Obesity and Related Metabolic Disorders.
When it comes to low libido, probably nothing is more to blame than OBESITY. This is not new information and should come as no surprise --- particularly when it comes to men. Unfortunately, it's becoming increasingly apparent that the same thing is true for women as well. For decades, women --- whether overweight / obese or normal weight --- have been told that their problems in the bedroom are mostly "psychological", Or they're simply blamed on "hormones", which honestly, could mean almost anything. Although I certainly don't want to discount either of these issues, I want people to realize that for both sexes, Sexual Dysfunction is largely physical, and that there are a number of things that can be done to turn this problem around.
No matter how you slice it, study after study after study links quality of life to sexual frequency and enjoyment. In fact, the Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary defines the term "Quality of Life" as "A patient's general well-being, including mental status, stress level, sexual function, and self-perceived health status." We know that DEPRESSION is rampant in this country. We also know that Americans are maximally stressed out. To top it all off, statistics show us that massive numbers of us have poor sex lives. How are most physicians treating these folks? You already know the answer. In typical "EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE" fashion, this group (especially the women) are given Antidepressants ---- the proverbial "anti-aphrodisiac" --- one of the WORST CLASSES OF DRUGS for further destroying sex drive.
It was a decade ago next month that Dr. Martin Binks, the director of behavioral health at Duke University Medical Center's Diet & Fitness Center, published his landmark study on Obesity and Sex. In this study he showed that Obese individuals were 2,500% more likely to report having problems with their sex life than people of normal weight, and that women had greater problems in this area than men. Then, in 2007, several researchers from Copenhagen's Institute of Preventive Medicine published a paper in the International Journal of Obesity (Sexual Function and Obesity). Although they did not do any new research for this paper, they reviewed all the previous studies on the topic from 1966 forward, coming to some conclusions of their own. I am going to leave you with some quotes from their literature review.
In light of the fact that the authors say that there is not enough "research" into the link between Obesity and Sexual Dysfunction, this last bullet point above provides us direction. While there have been large numbers of studies done on SEXUAL DYSFUNCTION and Obesity in men, there have not been nearly as many in women. On top of this, there is a pervasive idea in the scientific community that goes like this (I will quote from an article called Obesity and Sex found in an ad for a weight loss product). "Obesity does not, by itself, lead to a bad sex life. However, there are physical conditions that go hand-in-hand with obesity that can cause such problems."
For the sake of argument, let's say that this statement and statements like it from the scientific literature are true. What's the difference and what does it matter? Whether Sexual Dysfunction is being caused by Obesity itself or by the complications / sequelae thereof is a moot point, as the end result is the same. On top of all this, Obesity itself is an "Inflammatory" problem, and we know that Sexual Dysfunction is yet another one of those things related to Inflammation (HERE). But this is just the beginning.
What are the "biological mechanisms" they are talking about in that final bullet point above? I will give them to you verbatim, with links to articles from my site. "Endothelial Dysfunction [another marker of Systemic Inflammation that is directly related to decreased blood flow], METABOLIC SYNDROME, DIABETES, ALTERED ENDOCRINE FUNCTION, PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS, SLEEP APNEA, Physical Disabilities" (too many to list, but I will leave you with ONE). Furthermore, if we were to look at each individual study, we would find many more that could be added to this list.
But all of this begs a critical question. With a whopping 70% of Adult Americans either Obese or overweight, and another 8% MONW, (not to mention the ASTRONOMICAL NUMBERS of individuals dealing with some sort of Sexual Dysfunction), how do we get there from here? In other words, what sort of strategies can be used to regain the "Quality of Life" that a healthy sex life helps bring to the table, by shedding excess pounds? Glad you asked.
I have a significant number of posts on WEIGHT LOSS, which you can read at your leisure. There are a wide variety of strategies in those posts, including things like controlling Blood Sugar and Inflammation by going LOW CARB / PALEO, addressing GUT HEALTH, making sure to add RESISTANCE TRAINING to your workout regimen, and many others. And if you are dealing with BELLY FAT, it will be almost impossible to get your bedroom mojo back unless you deal with it first. You see, Belly Fat, the deep fat packed in around your organs, is bad news because it is far more metabolically active than the fat that is found on hips, thighs, etc (it actually produces Estrogen --- see the previous link). Get rid of your Belly Fat and your Endocrine System (including your OVARIES, your HYPOTHALAMUS, your ADRENAL GLANDS, and your THYROID), will work more like it should --- without drugs or nutritional supplements. The really awesome thing about this approach is that it is the same approach you would use to deal with almost any health problem you are struggling with (HERE).
Granted, each individual is different and may require some personalized attention and specific supplements. But the bottom line is that eating the right foods, and exercising in the correct manner is going to boost the metabolism, increase blood flow to the sex organs (a problem that is universal to both men and women, even though it used to be thought of as a "male" issue), and increase one's energy (including sexual energy). I have yet to hear a patient (male or female) tell me that this or similar approaches have not helped them.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).