I am 60 years old, obese, and my cholesterol levels are high. I'm concerned that I have no interest in sex. Can obesity and high cholesterol affect my sex drive?
While there is still much research to be done on women’s sexuality, some sources say that as women age, their sex drive might begin to decrease around their late 40s and early 50s. This could be caused by natural decreases in testosterone as we age as well as menopause causing estrogen levels to fall.
Studies have shown that obese women are less likely to report having a sexual partner in the past 12 months and more likely to report difficulties with sexual desire and/or performance. Health conditions such as high cholesterol often correlate with a high body weight. High cholesterol can create blockages in blood vessels leading to sexual organs, causing the person’s body to be less responsive to sexual activity, which leads to a drop in desire. High body fat also leads to an increase of a chemical in the body called SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) which binds testosterone, leaving less available to stimulate desire.
It’s also important to note that while physical health can affect sexual desire, so can societal expectations. With sexuality often being showcased as something to only be enjoyed by the young and thin, women who are obese and/or older may experience insecurity and shame when it comes to sexual intimacy. While one should address any issues affecting their health, all women should feel free to explore their sexuality with their chosen partners, unhindered by beauty standards and norms.
For more information on how obesity and age affect sexual desire in women, see these sources:
- Sex and health issues associated with obesity - http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/sex-and-weight
- Sexuality and obesity - http://www.bmj.com/content/340/bmj.c2573
- Obesity and female sexuality in perimenopause - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4498028/
- Testosterone and low libido in women - http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/sexual-dysfunction/testosterone-and-low-libido.aspx
- Obesity and Intimacy - http://www.npr.org/2011/09/21/140665644/for-obese-intimate-lives-often-suffer
- Sexual desire in older women - https://www.menopause.org/for-women/sexual-health-menopause-online/sexual-problems-at-midlife/decreased-desire
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