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/content/abstract/112/3/586>

Source: Oregon State University

Explore further: Experts call for higher exam pass marks to close performance gap between international and UK medical graduates

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Male-dominated societies are not more violent, study says

Apr 01, 2014

Conventional wisdom and scientific arguments have claimed that societies with more men than women, such as China, will become more violent, but a University of California, Davis, study has found that a male-biased sex ratio ...

Recommended for you

Obese British man in court fight for surgery

Jul 11, 2011

A British man weighing 22 stone (139 kilograms, 306 pounds) launched a court appeal Monday against a decision to refuse him state-funded obesity surgery because he is not fat enough.

2008 crisis spurred rise in suicides in Europe

Jul 08, 2011

The financial crisis that began to hit Europe in mid-2008 reversed a steady, years-long fall in suicides among people of working age, according to a letter published on Friday by The Lancet.

New food labels dished up to keep Europe healthy

Jul 06, 2011

A groundbreaking deal on compulsory new food labels Wednesday is set to give Europeans clear information on the nutritional and energy content of products, as well as country of origin.

Overweight men have poorer sperm count

Jul 04, 2011

Overweight or obese men, like their female counterparts, have a lower chance of becoming a parent, according to a comparison of sperm quality presented at a European fertility meeting Monday.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Cancer stem cells linked to drug resistance

Most drugs used to treat lung, breast and pancreatic cancers also promote drug-resistance and ultimately spur tumor growth. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered ...

Poll: Big Bang a big question for most Americans

Few Americans question that smoking causes cancer. But they have more skepticism than confidence in global warming, the age of the Earth and evolution and have the most trouble believing a Big Bang created the universe 13.8 ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.