Sex after weight loss

Celebrating sex at all sizes, plus some real-life advice from a sex expert and WW members.
Published March 1, 2020

Sex after weight loss – it’s a sensitive topic that may cause many to get flustered and blush. It’s also a topic that’s often met with damaging, incorrect stereotypes about who has sex and who doesn’t, who has “good sex” and who doesn’t, and all sorts of negative body image messages. That’s not what we’re going to do. Sex at any size or age can be a positive experience to be celebrated, but sometimes, after a change to one’s body, unexpected feelings could arise.


Sex after weight loss, especially when a lot of weight has been lost, can be many things for different people – exciting, scary, fun, nerve-racking, or all of that at once. And it can come with some interesting physiological changes, too. As sex therapist Kristen Lilla tells, conditions that often go along with being overweight or obese can affect your sex life – high cholesterol for example, can reduce blood flow to the genitals, meaning it can be harder to get aroused, reach orgasm and have an erection. Being overweight can also reduce the body’s levels of testosterone (the libido hormone in men and women), which can lead to lower sex drives. After losing weight, you may notice differences in these areas. In fact, a two-year study determined that making healthy lifestyle changes can cure erectile dysfunction – about one third of the obese men experiencing ED in the study were able to restore their erectile function after losing weight.


Losing weight, Lilla notes, may also affect penis size. "Being overweight decreases penis size due to the skin/fat forming where the base of the penis is," she tells Insider. “So while losing weight doesn’t actually increase penis size, it does allow more of the penis to be visible and be used because it's not hiding under a pad of skin.” 


Other potential effects of weight loss include less fatigue and less joint pain – which can directly translate to more energy and physical enjoyment of sex.


We asked two WW members and a sex therapist to share their insights on sex after weight loss, along with some advice for how to have a great time in the bedroom.


WW member Samantha met her husband 30 years ago, when she was about a size 20, and says her weight was never an issue for their relationship – contrary to what many people may assume about those who are overweight.


“Nobody’s too heavy to have sex,” she says, noting she has always had a good sex life.


While her weight didn’t stop her and her husband from having and enjoying sex, she has noticed some changes in her approach to sex since she lost weight.


“I initiate it more,” she says, explaining that she now has more energy than she used to and feels better about herself, and that translates to being more present and having more desire and passion in the bedroom. She says she finds she’s more adventurous with sex now, has more flexibility, and is open to trying different positions that she might not have before.


WW member Lindy has seen an even more dramatic shift in her sex life.


She explains that she and her husband had gone several years without sex, in part because of her weight and her lack of confidence, but also because she recently battled (and overcame!) breast cancer, which was a source of trepidation in the bedroom.


Now, having lost 150 pounds, Lindy says she feels “more confident” and their sex life has completely changed.


“I get it on the reg!” she says with a laugh.


Their rekindled sexual connection has also brought them more intimacy.


“It’s good for our relationship because it brings a whole different closeness. … When you have sex on the regular, it’s a different deeper connection to another person. It’s been great.”


She also notes that her husband lost 20 pounds recently, something she feels is directly related to her newfound confidence in the bedroom and the reignited spark between them.


While Samantha and Lindy have had positive experiences in their sex lives after losing weight, that may not be the case for everyone. Sex may trigger difficult feelings related to low self-esteem and body image.


Emotional difficulties


“Being overweight can really impact a person’s self-esteem and self-worth,” says clinical psychologist and sex therapist Christopher Ryan Jones. Having a poor body image can make it difficult to express confidence at work, establish friendships, and develop interpersonal relationships, he says.


“These [feelings] do not simply go away after weight loss. Many people still have lower self-esteem,” he says, which can make it “difficult to engage in sexual activity with their partner.” He adds that these feelings could be further complicated by loose skin a person may have after weight loss or any health issues the person may have.


“Even when you lose a lot of weight, you still have those feelings that you haven’t lost the weight,” Lindy says, noting that, in her experience, people sometimes scrutinize your body more when you say you’ve lost a lot of weight.


“I get that all the time,” she says. “I find people are looking to see if I have [extra] skin, if I have a roll, if my arms are jiggling.”


The key here is to focus on yourself – not what anyone else thinks – and to do what’s right for you.


Samantha encourages everyone to be proud of themselves and build their confidence.


Of course, that can be easier said than done for anyone struggling with self-esteem issues, but there are little things you can do to add to your confidence each day.


Walk tall, walk proud. It’s all in how you carry yourself, Samantha says, adding that buying a matching bra and underwear set can be a confidence booster, too.


“Be proud of what you’ve done,” she says, referring to losing weight and achieving your health and fitness goals. “Don’t be ashamed.”


And if you have loose skin after weight loss and are struggling to accept that, Samantha shares something she saw a fellow member post on WW Connect: Loose skin means you’ve succeeded.


“I don’t care what people think,” Samantha says. “Just be proud of who you are. Feel sexy.”


How to navigate sex in a positive, enjoyable way


Whether you’re single or in a long-term relationship, your connection to sex can start with your connection to your own body.


“I am a firm believer that people should learn to love and appreciate themselves so that they are better able to love and appreciate others,” says Jones. “For those who have lost weight and want to have more fun with their sex life, I would first recommend that they begin with exploring their body.”


He likens it to buying new outfits after losing weight: “Many people buy all new clothes … well, I recommend that they get to know their new body through exploration and masturbation.”


He suggests doing this alone first of all, and then including a partner if you wish.


Jones adds this is a great time to explore any sexual activity that you’ve always wanted to try but felt you couldn’t because your previous weight hindered you.


Dating advice


For anyone who may be thinking about dating or having casual sex, especially if they haven’t dated in a while, you may be feeling a mix of trepidation and excitement, and that’s perfectly normal.


“Some people, after losing weight, feel that they have to ‘make up for lost time,’ says Jones. “I would caution people to enjoy their experiences and take their time.”


He encourages being responsible and avoiding risky behaviours. One way to do this, he says, is to set your own personal standards and guidelines for dating. You can keep these completely private, but it’s a way to ensure you always stay true to yourself, what’s right for you and what you are comfortable with.


Lindy also recommends taking your time and suggests dressing to make yourself feel confident for a date. And if you’re not feeling ready, don’t push yourself, she says.


“I wouldn’t rush things if you’re not feeling up to it,” she says, adding that when it comes to sex, “I think you really have to trust a person.”


And with Valentine’s Day around the corner, whatever your relationship status, Mills shares this fun tip: “Buy a negligée and enjoy yourself.”