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Associations of Unhealthy Lifestyle Factors with Sexual Inactivity and Sexual Dysfunctions in Denmark


Morten Frisch, DSc (Med), Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, DK-2300, Denmark. Tel: 4532683160; Fax: 4532683165; E-mail:


Introduction.  Studies have linked obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and tobacco smoking to erectile dysfunction, but the evidence linking unhealthy lifestyle factors to other sexual dysfunctions or to sexual inactivity is conflicting.

Aim.  To examine associations between unhealthy lifestyle factors and sexual inactivity with a partner and four specific sexual dysfunctions in each sex.

Methods.  We used nationally representative survey data from 5,552 Danish men and women aged 16–97 years in 2005. Cross-sectional associations of lifestyle factors with sexual inactivity and sexual dysfunctions were estimated by logistic regression-derived, confounder-adjusted odds ratios (ORs).

Main Outcome Measures.  We calculated ORs for sexual inactivity with a partner and for sexual dysfunction and sexual difficulties overall in both sexes, for erectile dysfunction, anorgasmia, premature ejaculation, and dyspareunia in men, and for lubrication insufficiency, anorgasmia, dyspareunia, and vaginismus in women.

Results.  Obesity (body mass index [BMI]≥30 kg/m2) or a substantially increased waist circumference (men ≥102 cm; women ≥88 cm), physical inactivity, and, among women, tobacco smoking were each significantly associated with sexual inactivity in the last year. Among sexually active men, both underweight (BMI <20 kg/m2) and obesity, a substantially increased waist circumference, physical inactivity in leisure time, high alcohol consumption (>21 alcoholic beverages/week), tobacco smoking, and use of hard drugs were each significantly positively associated with one or more sexual dysfunctions (ORs between 1.71 and 22.0). Among sexually active women, the only significant positive association between an unhealthy lifestyle factor and sexual dysfunction was between hashish use and anorgasmia (OR 2.85).

Conclusion.  In both sexes, several unhealthy lifestyle factors were associated with sexual inactivity with a partner in the last year. Additionally, among sexually active participants, men with unhealthy lifestyles were significantly more likely to experience sexual dysfunctions. Considering the importance of a good sex life, our findings may be useful in attempts to promote healthier lifestyles. Christensen BS, Grønbæk M, Pedersen BV, Graugaard C, and Frisch M. Associations of unhealthy lifestyle factors with sexual inactivity and sexual dysfunctions in Denmark. J Sex Med 2011;8:1903–1916.