Weight does not affect women's sexual behavior

Oct 30, 2008

Oregon and Hawaiian researchers have found that a woman's weight does not seem to affect sexual behavior. In fact, overweight women are more likely to report having sex with men than women considered to be of "normal weight."

The study, published in the September issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, is based on data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth that looked at sexual behavior of more than 7,000 women. Dr. Bliss Kaneshiro, an assistant professor at the School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii, was a student at Oregon Health & Science University at the time. Oregon State University professor Marie Harvey helped Kaneshiro with her research because of Harvey's background and expertise in women's sexual and reproductive health issues.

Some studies have suggested that obese and overweight women have a higher risk of unintended pregnancy than do normal weight women, according to Kaneshiro. Although multiple factors, including contraceptive use and its efficacy, may increase the risk of unintended pregnancy among these women, sexual behavior and the frequency of intercourse could also be a factor.

Kaneshiro's objective was to study the impact of body mass index on sexual behavior. It is important to understand this relationship because preexisting physician biases can affect how heavy women are counseled about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases prevention. Kaneshiro studied the relationship between body mass index and sexual behavior, including sexual orientation, age at first intercourse, number of partners, and frequency of intercourse.

"Our analysis demonstrated that obese and overweight women do not differ significantly in some of the objective measures of sexual behavior compared to women of normal weight," said Kaneshiro. "This study indicates that all women deserve diligence in counseling on unintended pregnancy and STD prevention, regardless of body mass index."

The study seems to contradict widely held stereotypes that overweight and obese women are not as sexually active as other women. If anything, the researchers concluded the opposite seems to be true.

"I was glad to see that the stereotype that you have to be slender to have sex is just that, a stereotype," Harvey said.

Kaneshiro said the data showed that overweight women were more likely to report having sexual intercourse with a man, even when she controlled for age, race and type of residence. Ninety-two percent of overweight women reported having a history of sexual intercourse with a man, as opposed to 87 percent of women with a normal body mass index.

"These results were unexpected and we don't really know why this is the case," Kaneshiro said.

Harvey said the important part to take away from the study is that physicians and others who work in women's medical health should never make assumptions about sexual behavior based on outward appearances.

"Some medical practitioners may not do appropriate follow-up with women who are overweight, they might assume they aren't having sex unless they are told otherwise," Harvey said.

Other coauthors on the study include Jeffrey Jensen, Mark Nichols and Alison Edelman of Oregon Health & Science University and Nichole Carlson of the University of Colorado Denver.
Kaneshiro's study was awarded first prize at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' annual meeting this year. The abstract can be viewed at: www.greenjournal.org/cgi/conte… t/abstract/112/3/586

Source: Oregon State University

Explore further: MD Anderson and Bayer collaborate to create symptom assessment questionnaires in clinical trials

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Men want commitment when women are scarce

Jan 13, 2015

The sexual stereotype, in line with evolutionary theory, is that women want commitment and men want lots of flings. But a study of the Makushi people in Guyana shows the truth is more complex, with men more ...

Does bad behavior really hurt business?

Nov 24, 2014

Silicon Valley seems to have more than its share of companies behaving badly. Among up-and-comers in the tech world, privacy abuses and executive gaffes have become viral sensations. But is all that bad behavior ...

Research helps raise awareness of human trafficking

Nov 21, 2014

Human trafficking –– or the control, ownership and sale of another human being for monetary gain –– was a common occurrence centuries ago, but many believe it doesn't exist in this day and age and not in this country.

Recommended for you

Why menthol chills your mouth when it's not actually cold

Jan 22, 2015

Try putting an ice-cube in your mouth. The insides of your mouth and tongue instantly turn numb. Hold it in still and you will feel pain. Now try sucking on peppermint. The mint itself is at room temperature, ...

Jamaica official says marijuana reform bill ready

Jan 21, 2015

Jamaica's Cabinet has approved a much-anticipated bill of drug law amendments that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot and pave the way for a legal medical marijuana industry on the Caribbean ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.