Contact: Marie Harvey
Oregon State University
Weight does not affect women's sexual behavior
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon and
Hawaiian researchers have found that a woman's weight does not seem to
affect sexual behavior. In fact, overweight women are more likely to
report having sex with men than women considered to be of "normal
The study, published in the September issue of
Obstetrics & Gynecology,
is based on data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth that
looked at sexual behavior of more than 7,000 women. Dr. Bliss
Kaneshiro, an assistant professor at the School of Medicine at the
University of Hawaii, was a student at Oregon Health & Science
University at the time. Oregon State University professor Marie Harvey
helped Kaneshiro with her research because of Harvey's background and
expertise in women's sexual and reproductive health issues.
studies have suggested that obese and overweight women have a higher
risk of unintended pregnancy than do normal weight women, according to
Kaneshiro. Although multiple factors, including contraceptive use and
its efficacy, may increase the risk of unintended pregnancy among these
women, sexual behavior and the frequency of intercourse could also be a
Kaneshiro's objective was to study the impact of body
mass index on sexual behavior. It is important to understand this
relationship because preexisting physician biases can affect how heavy
women are counseled about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases
prevention. Kaneshiro studied the relationship between body mass index
and sexual behavior, including sexual orientation, age at first
intercourse, number of partners, and frequency of intercourse.
analysis demonstrated that obese and overweight women do not differ
significantly in some of the objective measures of sexual behavior
compared to women of normal weight," said Kaneshiro. "This study
indicates that all women deserve diligence in counseling on unintended
pregnancy and STD prevention, regardless of body mass index."
study seems to contradict widely held stereotypes that overweight and
obese women are not as sexually active as other women. If anything, the
researchers concluded the opposite seems to be true.
"I was glad to see that the stereotype that you have to be slender to have sex is just that, a stereotype," Harvey said.
said the data showed that overweight women were more likely to report
having sexual intercourse with a man, even when she controlled for age,
race and type of residence. Ninety-two percent of overweight women
reported having a history of sexual intercourse with a man, as opposed
to 87 percent of women with a normal body mass index.
"These results were unexpected and we don't really know why this is the case," Kaneshiro said.
said the important part to take away from the study is that physicians
and others who work in women's medical health should never make
assumptions about sexual behavior based on outward appearances.
medical practitioners may not do appropriate follow-up with women who
are overweight, they might assume they aren't having sex unless they
are told otherwise," Harvey said.
Other coauthors on the study
include Jeffrey Jensen, Mark Nichols and Alison Edelman of Oregon
Health & Science University and Nichole Carlson of the University
of Colorado Denver.
Kaneshiro's study was awarded first prize at the American College of
Obstetricians and Gynecologists' annual meeting this year. The abstract
can be viewed at: http://www.greenjournal.org/cgi/content/abstract/112/3/586
Study: Weight Does Not Affect Women's Sexual Behavior
Media contact: Angela Yeager, 541-737-0784; [email protected]
Sources: Dr. Bliss Kaneshiro, 808-203-6549, [email protected];
Marie Harvey, 541-737-3825, [email protected]
Note to Editors: Contact the researchers for a copy of the complete study.