Time and time again, there’s been a debate between fitness experts and fat-positive activists on whether or not fatness is a detriment to achieving an amazing sex life. Of course, anyone can have “good” sex, as the term “good” is relative to individual definition. But to achieve that toe-curling, orgasm-inducing, long lasting, almost-unable-to-breath sex, it does take a certain level of fitness that extra weight can prevent people from attaining.

For men, cardiovascular fitness is an essential factor in preventing erectile dysfunction, which is sexual dysfunction characterized by the inability to develop or maintain a penis erection during sexual performance. Obese men are at increased risk for developing erectile dysfunction, and male excess abdominal fat has also been cited as a characteristic associated with ED. In regular speech, a man’s ability to “get and keep it up,” often depends on his heart health, physical activity, and weight. And thus, his health can influence the sexual gratification of both himself and his partner.

Duke University researchers found that up to 30% of obese people who sought help in controlling their weight made the decision due to a decrease in their libido, sex, drive, and/or sexual performance. A recent study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy also indicated that moderately to severely obese people report being less satisfied with their sex lives than the general population. It could be because of unrealistic standards of body image promoted by the media and wider public; thus impacting self-confidence and performance. Or it could simply be because of pure biology and the lack of fitness initiative that many overweight and obese people fail to consistently perform.

According to the CDC, 68.3 of American adults over the age of 20 are overweight or obese. Perhaps, America’s weight issue could be the cause of reports indicating we’re having lackluster sex. About 75% of women never reach an orgasm from penetrative intercourse alone. But exercise activates the sympathetic nervous system, which increases blood flow to the genital region, and thus, can assist in attaining orgasms. Just to provide an example, a 2003 study found that women were more sexually responsive and aroused after 20 minutes of cycling. Not to mention, improved muscle tone also aids orgasms, as they’re dependent on multiple muscle activity.

Additionally, studies have also reported that athletes have better sex lives than the general population, as regular exercisers tend to have higher levels of self-confidence and sexual satisfaction than their non-exercising peers. People who regularly exercise reap the benefits of physical activity reducing stress, elevating moods, and helping with relaxation, which are all positive benefits that lead to better sex and great fitness motivation.

But if African-Americans are 1.5 times as likely to be obese than their Non-Hispanic counterparts and four out of five African-American women are overweight or obese, perhaps, Black Americans’ sex lives aren’t being fully actualized due to our struggling relationship with fitness and thus, maintaining the extra pounds.

Is it fair to say that fatness and a lack of fitness is ruining our sex lives? Have you found that your sex life improves when you exercise more and don’t maintain as many pounds? Or can anyone enjoy incredible toe-curling sex regardless of being overweight and failing to make physical activity a consistent priority? Weigh in.

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  1. It’s already ruined mine. I’m white, overweight, and a red-head, which means I’m only sexy when I’m slim (this according to my pop-culturized cousin, who thinks red-heads are a fetish). In white culture there’s a preoccupation with adolescence, informing who men prefer to pursue — basically, boyish looking women that look like “virgins” but hint at a devilishly freaky, deviant side. This leaves real women at times conforming to this perverse body image just to get along in society.

    I haven’t had sex in almost two years and the last person I was intimate with had a fetish for larger women. It kills my self esteem every time I look at TV or ads because all the food commercials and references to food are targeted at me, the overweight person who feels comfortable at CICI’s buffet, blending in with all the other people, fat and skinny, who overeat because it’s medication and cheap.

    So, yes, my sex life is in the pits but hopefully I’ll find someone along the way in my current weight loss journey, but if I don’t, I have promised myself that I won’t bring my inner depressive, low self-esteem, big-girl-and-I’m-proud-being-sick attitude into my next relationship with whoever loves me for me.

    Great article and good luck to anyone struggling like me at the time

  2. I think there is a direct correlation between fitness and a healthy sex life. I gain nearly 100 lbs between the birth of my first child and my fourth, and have just now begun to lose the weight. I’ve lost 24 lbs so far and have seen a 50% increase in the quality of my sex life. (I track the length of our intercourse and whether or not I orgasm. Weird – I know.)

    At this rate, I’m looking forward to having the sex I could only dream of till this point. Only 80 more lbs to go!

  3. Keith Ridley IV

    This is bogus…… junk health science… WHy do you wanna hate on a full figured woman…. Somebody is smoking the crack pipe here. I know some sisters who sexual path is hot, sensual and in touch with their whole make up… this issue that if you are a size 18-26 situation in sexual negativity needs to cease… size 2/4/6/8 or zero… looks like you need a good meal. and the grim reaper or skeletator shouldnt be your best friend… Yes. I said it. and I stand by it.

  4. I have had to gain weight as I was a size 2/ 0 at the end of last year. Ever since I have started eating regular meals with high carbs, protein and good fats I have seen an improvement in my libido and general sexual satisfaction. I have been weight training to help gain muscle- and I have never felt so happy with my body, performance and form. I think it woks both ways… underweight or overweight…skinny is definitely not sexy!

  5. This article will tug at many us fat people’s heartstrings.  I came to this article from Clutch’s Facebook page and there I could already feel the negative, denial energy, things you only see from people who don’t want to hear they are truth.

    I’m FAT, I know it but I know my sex life will change for the better as I lose weight because I’ll have the fitness level to ride my man with my feet on the bed without him assisting for longer than a minute.

    I’m tired of black women making excuses and accepting fatness as the new normal. There is no need to embrace unhealthy skinniness but this “thick” obsession is killing us and making a mockery of our natural curves.

    Let’s all embrace health and resist fat acceptance

  6. I’m 30 pounds overweight, gained slowly over the years. Luckily, it’s evenly distributed so guys still complement me on my body, and I get a lot of dates, but I find myself uncomfortable with getting intimate with anyone. It’s weird because I know most guys don’t really sweat the extra pounds or even care about my jiggle, but I do. I never want a guy to see me without clothes. When I do have sex, I am extremely body conscious, so it’s not as fun for either of us. For me, the weight ruins my sex life by making me less confident.

  7. I’m what you could consider overweight. I’m white. White males, I’m not usually their type. But I exercise, and I’m a vegetarian, and my body type will never let me be below a size 14, 12 at the very least. I have a friend who teaches Zumba classes in the Midwest. She is also overweight, but she has been making healthy changes. I also know a girl who played sports in high school. She’s not petite. At her healthiest, she weighed, perhaps 180 lbs, and her legs are still all muscle.

    See the thing is often not your weight itself, but how your weight correlates to your body type. Even how you hold your fat. There is nothing wrong with fat. This article merely propagates the prejudice that people have with fat, and that’s highly offensive. I noted that most of the comments were from insecure women. Perhaps they should look at their insecurities as part of the problem. Sure, sure, I’m not saying one shouldn’t be healthy, but don’t simply blame being overweight for one’s lack of libido. And don’t shame the people struggling with weight, because they get enough out there from society already, especially the women. To simply blame being overweight displays an ignorance or denial of other issues of prejudice, like sexism, racism, classism. (Because sometimes overweight people are POOR, because they can’t afford anything but McWankers.)

    I’m overweight, yep. I sure am. I’m working on being healthier, and if I lose weight, so be it. But my sex life doesn’t suffer from my weight. If it suffers, it’s from stress. Americans are stressed out horribly. That’s part of their sexual problem. I know people who are trim, healthy, and exercise, but they have hyper-tension and stress compounding that hyper-tension; no amount of weight loss is going to help them. No amount of exercise will either. Only finding assistance for some stress will. And they don’t necessarily have active sex lives.

    Another part of the problem is the lack of awareness about what a person wants sexually. See, not everyone wants to get married and have kids. Not everyone conforms to hetero-normative sexuality. There’s nothing WRONG with it, not at all. But some people don’t realize they have other options. And until they realize it, they won’t be able to fully enjoy sex. I know what I like. So I can have great, mind-blowing sex, but my partner gets the toe-curling orgasms.

    So, I guess I’m saying, get your head outta your butt, O Magazine Contributor, because your article is narrow-minded, prejudiced, and incredibly ignorant. The libido problem cannot simply be cured by losing weight. There are too many other factors, personal and societal, working against people to make it such a simple fix, especially women, poor people, minorities, and those of us who are less hetero-normative.

  8. I’ve been able to keep my actual weight in check, however “staying in shape is hard to do, Life is busy & when time gets short gym time gets dropped off of the schedule. That being said, there is a marked difference in my sex life when I in shape (consistently doing cardio & strength training) as opposed to when I not in good shape (spotty gym visits & cardio less than 3 times a week). When a man is in a good work out cycle testosterone is high (especially in the morning) & feel good chemicals are flowing. Confidence is high so is desire, & stamina. Its the hard truth & experienced both sides. Anyone who claims different is delusional going ignoring simple biology.

  9. If your partner finds your extra flab is unattractive, then why don’t you pay them the proper respect and lose it? All the time I hear people complaining that, “No one finds me attractive,” but they never DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT. Get off your lazy butts!

  10. I do believe they’re on to something. Too much girth does hv an effect on ur ex life. Some ppls bodies can function with xtra weight & some can’t. I don’t think they’re hating on big folks. It’s not rocket science.

  11. I am definitely overweight, I weigh over 250 lbs, I previously at the beginning of my relationship was a healthy size 10-12 (UK) 5 years ago, but at that time my sexual interest and libido weren’t half as alive as they are now! Sure I gained weight but what I’m trying to say is I never lost body confidence, and I’m constantly craving some action! I’m always good to go and put in just as much effort as my 130 lb partner.. I have no problems achieving toe curling action. I put this all down to myself not being kicked by posts such as this, and being subjected to having my body and health to someone else’s standards, I’m confident and that definitely credits to the quality of on-goings in the bedroom. Men and women big or small, feel comfortable letting loose.

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