Eating disorders impair sexual function

Aka why if you have an eating disorder you have no more sex drive


Wondering why you don't have sexual feelings for others anymore, or maybe never did at all? Feeling yourself drifting away from romantic partners?


Humans have 2 goals: Survive and reproduce. Survival is primary. If survival is threatened the body focuses all its energy on that and shuts down the reproductive system. Hence, females will likely lose their periods. Males will likely experience erectile dysfunction.


Dr. Jennifer Gaudiani writes in Sick Enough:


"Most studies show that among patients with eating disorders, those with anorexia nervosa have the lowest levels of libido, highest avoidance of sexual relationships, and worst anxiety [..]


So, first anorexics have lower libido and higher avoidance of sexual relationships. Sexual relationships are one of the most fulfilling ones a human can experience. When I was anorexic I thought I was 100% asexual and aromantic. When I recovered, it turns out that maybe I could actually enjoy sex! What a surprise to me after years of thinking sex was something I'd never have or want even a litle.


Sex can already be painful, and being anorexic makes it feel even worse:


"Pain during penetrative intercourse is quite common in females with malnutrition. First of all, malnourished tissues become more fragile, so intercourse can physically damage the vagina. Second, a low estrogen state will also contribute to vaginal dryness and fragility, as well as to decreased lubrication. Pelvic floor dysfunction [..] can also exacerbate pelvic pain and vaginal discomfort.”


"Some individuals dissociate during sexual experiences. Dissociation is a psychological reaction in which an individual may feel absent, out-of-body, and unaware of what they are doing, with little or no memory of what happened while dissociated. A study showed that women who both dissociate and have a tendency toward binge eating have an actual measurable stress response, with elevated blood cortisol levels, during sexual stimuli."


Even if you don't want sex, you probably want deeper relationships


Well, if you eat more and recover more from your eating disorder, you'll experience greater joy and connection with others. You will also feel less anxiety in general. So even if you think you'll never want sex (like I did), you'll still experience the ability to love people more as you recover.


Eating disorders encourage isolation. Recovery brings with it deepened connection and the ability to laugh and love.