4 Ways Obesity Kills Your Manhood

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There are libraries full of research showing connections between obesity and your health—heart disease, cancer, diabetes—but one area is commonly overlooked: The bedroom. "Intimacy and sexuality is a question of high importance for tens of millions of Americans who are overweight or obsese and having difficulty in the bedroom," says Sarah Varney, author of XL Love

Check out these four ways that obesity is getting in the way of your sex life (and how losing the weight can get it back on track).

#1. Shrinking Penis
"[Many men reported that] as they gained weight their penises appeared to shrink," says Varney. She learned from Edward Karpman, MD, a California-based urologist, that shrinking, even disappearing penises is a real concern for obese men. "This wasn't a matter of rounded bellies getting in the line of site; the men's penises, when measured, were in fact not as long as they once were."

Don't worry, your penis doesn't actually shrink when you get fat, but it does look like it. Varney explained that this happens because the penis is attached to the back of the abdominal wall, so when the belly expands outwards, it 'engulfs' a man's penis. "Dr. Karpman explained that for every 50 pounds overweight you are, you lose an inch of penis," she says.

Take a sigh of relief because the reverse is also true: As men lost the weight, their penises returned to their rightful size.

More from Rodale News: 11 Surprising Sperm Killers

#2. Low-T
"The association of low testosterone and obesity in men is well established," says Varney. She explains that belly fat has an enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen. It's not that obese men aren't producing enough testosterone, it's that what they have is getting converted into estrogen. "Normally, men lose about 1 percent of testosterone a year, but obese men fare far worse; testosterone loss starts earlier in life and occurs more quickly." And one symptoms of Low-T is decreased sex drive

Varney has found that doctors often prescribe testosterone treatments for these obese men as a way of jumpstarting the process. Then, as men lose weight, their body begins to naturally increase testosterone production, returning them to normal levels (and normal vitality).

#3. Erectile Dysfunction
"That dip in testosterone also causes a dip somewhere else," says Varney. In her interviews with different doctors, she discovered that younger, obese men were coming in with organic causes of erectile dysfunction. And it's not just Low-T that effects ED. "Diabetic men are twice as likely to have abnormally low levels of testosterone than men without diabetes," says Varney, "and—perhaps not coincidentally—three times as likely to develop sexual problems as nondiabetic men of similar age." She explains that studies have found that half of diabetic men have moderate or mild ED and one in four had sever ED. 

More from Rodale News: Poison-Free Foreplay—10 Ways to Climate Without Chemicals

Losing weight not only gets rid of the testosterone-killing belly fat; it also helps strengthen some of the necessary hardware. "Increased physical exercise can also improve the functioning of the cells that line blood vessels and are critical for maintaining an erection," says Varney.

#4. Self-Esteem
"The OB-GYN practices for women always have women on their psychologists," says Varney, "You just don't see that as much in men's practices." And this is an issue because there's a big connection between weight, self-esteem, and sex. "The most powerful force is what people feel about themselves," she says. 

In writing her book, Varney encountered a man named Eric.  "In the way that he avoided mirrors and his own reflection, Eric felt like he was hiding from himself and from his wife. His self-loathing was so great that surely, he imagined, his wife must loathe him, too," Varney explained. With such low self-esteem, Eric lacked the confidence to even approach his wife with the idea of sex. Luckily, with the support of his wife and therapy, Eric has been able to unhitch his sexual confidence from his weight to get back to intimacy.

For more reasons to enjoy sex more, check out these surprising benefits of sex.

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