Fat men suffer from health problems, have difficulties maintaining relationships, and suffer from prejudice at work - and on top of all this they suffer from sexual dysfunction. A surplus of female hormones, blockage of blood vessels and possible diabetes, shortage of breath - all enemies of the erection and sexual pleasure.
It is normal to think that men aren't really concerned about their outward appearance; extra weight or even obesity doesn't really bother them. It is normal to be thin, but so what? That's another myth to be shattered in order to relate sensitively to this weighty problem.
"A high percentage of fat men are uncomfortable with themselves, to differentiate from women whose situation is much worse," says Dr. Yitzhak Ben Tzion, Deputy Director of the Psychiatric Unit and Director of the Sex Clinic at the Soroka Medical Center in the Negev. "A woman who has a problem with her body image may have less enjoyment, or have a harder time reaching orgasm, but she will function. For a man with a negative body image, the question of whether or not he can function is apparent to the eye: Failure to reach an erection and early ejaculation.”
Dr. Ben Tzion says that 30 percent of Israeli men are overweight and 8 percent are obese. Comprehensive research into the subject in Japan and Korea indicate that both impede on the sexual performance of men.
There are a number of clear physiological reasons for this:
- A fat man undergoes a process of feminization: hormones in the fatty tissue turn into estrogen the female hormone. That is why obese men - such as Sumo wrestlers - have higher voices and their skin is more delicate.
- Fat men are more prone to high blood pressure, diabetes, a higher incidence of triglycerides in the blood, low levels of good cholesterol and high levels of the bad.
- They are more at risk of clogged arteries and this affects the erection.
- They get tired more quickly because their heart rate is slower and they suffer from glandular dysfunction as well.
The sexual organs are the most sensitive in the body and are adversely affected by all the symptoms mentioned above. Nearly 100 percent of men who suffer from diabetes - if it is not balanced - will also fail to maintain an erection. This also occurs to 60 percent of those men who suffer from high blood pressure; sometimes medications also adversely affect sexual function.
Self image problems are worse. The drooping potbelly "buries" the male organ inside the folds of fat and makes it look smaller. It is known that men attach great importance (without justification) not only the effective length of the penis during sex but also how it looks "at rest."
"To all of these factors, you have to add the emotional dimension," says Professor Alexander Polansky, a specialist in weight control. "Patients tell me they find they have less desire and are less excited about sexual relations. They feel that their partners enjoy it less."
This is compounded with the added problems of maintaining an erection and avoiding early ejaculation, even among men who are relatively young, between 30 and 55 years old.
“Fat men say they sweat more and it embarrasses them in front of their partner," he says. "The big belly prevents them from choosing positions they desire and reduces the options for foreplay. They have difficulty moving because they are disappointed with how they look. They dress sloppily and rarely have their hair properly styled. They avoid the gym because they don’t want to be the only fat person among people who look good. Also in the work place the way a fat man is treated is problematic - nothing can be done about it; we live in a society that appreciates esthetics. People who can’t control their eating are considered losers.”
Shiri Lavie, a social worker who specializes in sexual therapy at the Sheba Medical center, says it is true that being overweight can impair sexual performance, and it is true that one should try to lose weight for health reasons and to improve one’s sex life.
"But it’s unfair to regard a fat man as asexual”, she says. “He can be a wonderful lover because he compensates his limitations by being more attentive to the desires of his partner and is ready to focus more on her pleasure. It is more important how a man feels with himself and his body than how he looks. If he is comfortable in his own body then he will be successful at projecting sensuality. There are fat men who are charismatic and sexy by any standards.”
Lavie suggests to men who want to increase their physical activity to relate to it like sex: It’s hard to get going, but once you get into the game, the enthusiasm kicks in. With the food comes the appetite.