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Body Mass Index, Stunkard Figure Rating Scale, and Sexuality in Young Italian Women: A Pilot Study


Corresponding Author: Cesare Battaglia, MD, PhD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Via Massarenti, 13, 40138 Bologna, Italy. Tel: +39-051-6364377; Fax: +39-051-6364377; E-mail:



Increased body mass index is associated with a higher prevalence of metabolic diseases, depression, and sexual dysfunction. In obese patients, the perception of an altered body image may influence health and psychologically related behaviors. Furthermore, there is a significant positive relationship between sexual function, sexual satisfaction, and all body image variables.


To evaluate the relationship between body weight, perceived body image, and sexual behavior.


Ninety women underwent ultrasonographic clitoral volume measurement and color Doppler evaluation of the clitoral and ophthalmic arteries. The subjects filled the McCoy Female Sexuality Questionnaire (MFSQ), the Stunkard Figure Rating Scale (FRS), and the Beck's Depression Inventory (BDI) questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures

Clitoral volume, clitoral and ophthalmic artery pulsatility index (PI), MFSQ, FRS, and BDI.


The women were distributed into three groups: lean (N = 47); overweight (N = 22); and obese (N = 21). The ophthalmic artery showed lower PI in lean (1.72 ± 0.39) than in overweight (1.99 ± 0.30) and obese women (2.08 ± 0.19). The obese subjects presented the worst clitoral vascularization. The MFSQ for sexuality was higher in lean (45.8 ± 11.8) than in overweight (36.4 ± 15.0) and obese (36.1 ± 10.8) women. The frequency of intercourse per week was higher in lean (2.2 ± 1.4) than in overweight (1.3 ± 0.7) and obese (1.2 ± 0.4) women. The percentage of anorgasmic women was higher in obese (23%) than in lean subjects (6%). The FRS evidenced that the lean subjects represented themselves with a mean value (3.5 ± 1.0) lower than overweight (4.8 ± 0.7) and obese women (5.9 ± 0.6). The silhouette that represented their own ideal was significantly higher in obese (4.0 ± 0.4) than in overweight (3.3 ± 0.5) and lean (2.9 ± 0.7) subjects. The mean BDI was significantly higher in obese (15.8 ± 5.4) than in lean (8.4 ± 6.8) women.


Lifestyle modifications such as weight loss may be mandatory in obese subjects because obesity might impair the quality of sexual life by inducing genital and general vascular stiffness and body image distortion.