HEALTH MATTERS: Want a good sex life, lose the extra kilos

Obesity can cause a triad of abnormalities such as erectile dysfunction. PHOTO | NATION 

What you need to know:

Obese women have also been found to have a relatively normal sexual desire, but face a lot of difficulty in getting stimulated sexually.

Festus was brought to the Sexology Clinic by his wife. He was a 45-year-old businessman specialising in meat supply. He also owned a stream of nyama choma joints. His wife, Milka, was a women’s cloth designer. The 43-year-old ran a boutique which doubled up as a hair salon.

“I took it upon myself to drag this man to this clinic because we have not had sex for a year,” Milka said as soon as they were seated in front of me in the consultation room. “It worries me that we are no longer intimate but it does not seem to bother him.”

Festus smiled and scratched his unkempt beard continuously. He was uncomfortable, kind of embarrassed with the whole discussion. “I took some herbs from one of my meat suppliers and it did not work. I have been trying to get a solution for the problem,” he blurted out.

He was panting like he had been in a marathon. He had a big body and possibly his lungs were unable to cope with the demand for oxygen from the huge pile of flesh that was his body.

Erectile dysfunction

After a thorough evaluation of the couple, I made a diagnosis of erectile dysfunction. I ordered for a number of tests which all turned out normal. The only abnormality I could put a finger on was that Festus was obese. I concluded that his erectile dysfunction was secondary to obesity.

“I doubt that is the problem, doctor,” Festus agitated. “I have been this big for as long as I can remember but this problem started only a year ago.”

Well, obesity ultimately leads to sex failure at some point. If you are obese and still functioning perfectly, just prepare for that eventuality.  “I feel stigmatised, it is not fair,” Festus complained as Milka sat patiently listening to my explanation. Milka was slender, with a body mass index within the normal range. “Please continue with the explanation, doctor. My husband never cooperates when it comes to sex discussions. Please bear with us,” she said.

The truth of the matter from a number of studies worldwide is that obese men will at some point start having erection problems. This is irrespective of whether they are diabetic, hypertensive or have high cholesterol, the triad of abnormalities that come with obesity and which are causes of erectile dysfunction.

Too much fat in the body mops up testosterone and other chemicals responsible for vitality, leaving a man vulnerable to sexual failure. “So, you only accuse of failing because of being fat, yeah?” Festus retorted sarcastically.

It is not just men who fail due to obesity. Obese women have been found to have a relatively normal sexual desire, but face a lot of difficulty in getting stimulated sexually. They are unable to fully lubricate as a result. The end result is that they fail to get an orgasm and are quite dissatisfied with sex.


When obese men and women are put on weight reduction exercises and diet and when they follow the regimen, things improve. Men who lose weight have their testosterone go up. Their sexual performance, including erections, also improve. Women who lose weight, on the other hand, have their libido, stimulation, orgasm and satisfaction with sex, improve tremendously.

Weight Management

In the longer term, weight management also helps you evade diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke and heart attack. These complications come after some time of living with obesity. In a number of cases, a failed sex life is the first warning that more diseases are on the way. It is important to positively take the warning and rectify your body weight. “If an obese person loses weight, the erection problem is reversed?” Festus asked.

 “He may have to reduce his nyama choma and beer consumption,” Milka interjected. “Apart from selling meat, he eats a kilo or two by himself every day with a big chunk of ugali.”

It is important to note that exercise only helps with 30 per cent of weight reduction. The rest of the success, 70 per cent, is all in our diet. You cannot fight obesity by exercising but keeping up with poor diet choices. I gave Festus a diet regimen and also linked him up with a gym.

Weight Loss

It took three months for Festus to shed off 5kg. A year later, he had lost 30 kg and he was still on the downward trend. He seemed to be learning tricks of weight reduction with time. I gave him medicine to jumpstart his erections the couple to recreate intimacy. Gradually, his erections came back.


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