Major weight loss comes with loads of health perks: your risks for heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and stroke all plummet significantly. You’ll sleep better, have fewer joint aches, and score improved cognitive function, too. (Balance your Hormones and Lose up to 15 pounds in just 3 weeks!)
But the changes aren’t just physical—a big shakeup can also happen in the bedroom. “Doctors often focus on the shifts that occur in the body, like cardiovascular or endocrine effects, but few discuss how weight loss will impact one’s sex life,” says Leah Millheiser, MD, director of the Female Sexual Medicine Program at Stanford University. Since healthy intimacy contributes to wellbeing, it’s important to know what to expect from a new-to-you body. Below, 6 shifts that can happen in the bedroom after a big slim down.
The Big O comes much easier
(Photo: Getty Images)
Regardless of their weight, many women have a tough time reaching the finish line: A 2014 study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that just 63% have orgasms during sex. Adding extra pounds to the equation makes that task even harder. “Plaque can potentially build up in small blood vessels around the genitals and restrict blood flow,” explains Millheiser. “Slimming down helps because it hikes up blood flow again, which in turn lubricates the vagina and also increases sensitivity in the area, making orgasm more attainable.”
What’s more, shedding a lot of weight makes it physically easier to try different sex positions, she adds. “You have more mobility and flexibility. Switching it up can really help women find out what stimulates them so they can orgasm. Plus, it keeps things exciting in the bedroom, which is great for both partners,” she says.
Your self-esteem gets a big boost
Major weight loss can result in a huge leap in confidence. Some women who avoid sex when they’re overweight feel like they can come out of their shell once they reach a healthy weight, says Millheiser.
“Losing weight helped me get over a lot of fears I had for a very long time,” says Alyssa*, 39, who dropped 70 pounds. “I wasn’t scared to be naked around my husband anymore, and that made me become a lot more adventurous in bed.”
Related: Are You Bummed Out…Or Depressed?
But healthy intimacy may still take some time
(Photo: Getty Images)
Having a totally different body can bring up uncertainties about sex. “Many women who have been overweight their entire life and uncomfortable with sex may never have learned what it is to be intimate in a healthy way,” says Nicole Martinez, PsyD, a psychologist based in Skokie, Illinois. “It’s completely natural to struggle to let go of the old, self-doubting feelings, even with a healthier body.”
Getting comfortable with sex and your new body might mean taking it slow at first. “It’s important to go at a pace you are comfortable with, while articulating your needs and hesitations,” she says. “It can take time to find a balance between flourishing with your new self-esteem and developing intimacy with the right person.”
Sagging skin might cause some insecurity
One very common physical effect of a big drop in pounds is excess skin. Depending on the amount (it varies for everyone) and how you feel about it (some choose to just embrace it), there are several ways to handle it. “If you feel embarrassed by the excess skin, I recommend wearing lingerie that covers those particular areas of the body,” says Millheiser. “Behavioral therapy can help sort out body image issues, or surgery to remove the skin may also be considered. Many insurance companies cover the procedure, and it often makes a huge impact on self-confidence, which in turn is evident in the bedroom.”
You might be more sensitive to touch (in a good way)
Carrying extra weight can impact touch, so it may be difficult to connect with your body if you’re overweight. “Skin and fat might be in the way of the genitals, making masturbation more difficult,” explains Millheiser.
A big drop in pounds can also mean a heightened bonding experience between partners. “As my body toned up, I noticed that the sensual feel of my husband’s touch was so much more noticeable—softer, gentler, and magnified” says Mary, 59, who lost 60 pounds. Touch not only creates more intimacy between partners, but research has found that it can decrease blood pressure, heart rate, and cortisol while boosting the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Your partner’s sex life can improve, too
Weight loss can bring more adventure and positive energy into the bedroom, but it can also impact your partner’s sex life in a surprising way. When one partner is committed to trimming and toning, it can sway the other to make healthy choices, too. When Mary lost weight, she says that her husband of more than 40 years was motivated to get healthier, too. “Now we enjoy many outdoor activities together, like biking and kayaking,” she says.
And couples who sweat together reap the benefits in bed: A 2015 study published in theJournal of Sexual Health found that men who exercise have better erectile and sexual function. And research from Florida Atlantic University found that men and women who exercised frequently were more likely to rate themselves higher in regards to sexual performance and sexual desirability.
*Names have been changed
By Maggie Puniewska
This article ‘6 Ways Sex Changes After Extreme Weight Loss’ originally ran on Prevention.com.
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