Unhealthy lifestyle choices are the leading cause of sexual dysfunction in Delhi NCR: Max Healthcare survey

Sexual health is an intrinsic part of the overall well-being of an individual and closely impacts their relationships with partners. Hence conditions of sexual dysfunction – be they reduced drive, frequency or satisfaction issues – can even lead to repercussions on mental and emotional health.


As per various reports, including by CII, nearly 25% Indians are expected to die of lifestyle and metabolic diseases before the age of 70 years. However, clinical observations suggest that poor lifestyle habits and rise of metabolic diseases are impacting not only physical well-being but also leading to increased incidence of short and long-term sexual dysfunction.  In this context, the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity at Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, one of the country’s leading healthcare providers, released a survey on ‘Sexual Dysfunction among urban population’. This is an analysis of the impact of various lifestyle choices and habits on the sexual activity of more than 800 residents from Delhi and NCR region.

The survey was conducted under the guidance of Dr.Sujeet Jha, Director, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Obesity, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, who highlighted that “Unhealthy lifestyle habits have been a primary cause of the growing burden of metabolic and lifestyle diseases in the country. Increasingly, clinical diagnosis among 21-45 year olds has revealed that their lifestyle habits are affecting their ability to have healthy sexual relations, with nearly 20% men consulting a doctor with such concerns. Physical well-being, psychological perceptions as well as emotional health all directly impact sexual drive. It is interesting to note how men and women differ when it comes to which factors impact them to a greater degree. For example, 36% women on an average, blame hormonal issues as a primary cause of reduced sexual drive. Nearly 49% men, on the other hand feel unhealthy eating habits and lack of regular exercise have a direct co-relation to their sexual drives. This survey, conducted among men and women in Delhi NCR, looks at the short and long-term impact of factors like stress, sleep patterns, eating habits, smoking, exercise levels and BMI on sexual relations.”

The survey closely looked at how diverse lifestyle habits and choices are affecting sexual relations among the urban population. On the one hand, high stress levels on the personal and professional front have created an unhealthy environment for the human body. On the other, our own irresponsible choices – be they in terms of our eating, exercising and sleeping habits or indulgence in activities like smoking show how we are mistreating our bodies. The consequent impact on sexual drive and frequency is clearly evident in our daily lives.

Stress has become one of the leading causes of sexual dysfunction, with over 35% of 21-45 year olds in Delhi NCR feeling stress adversely impacts sexual drive and frequency. Interestingly, they also claim that stress fails to impact satisfaction levels

  • 63.4% stressed respondents experience low sexual frequency (less than once a month), while nearly 60% non-stressed respondents have fairly active sexual frequency/ indulge in sexual activities more than twice a week, on an average

Delving deeper, the survey also recognized how people react to professional and personal stress. On the professional front, work-related travel stress takes a toll on sexual frequency

  • People (83.7%) who do not travel for work have higher sex drive than ones who travel (76.5%)
  • In 35% younger respondents, extensive work related travel led to reduction in sexual frequency while 93% who do not have work travel stress claim they are active
  • Among older respondents, 49% of those who do not have work travel stress claim they are active as compared to 27% of those who do
  • More people (23.5%) who travel for work experience weak sex drive in comparison to ones who do not travel at all (16.3%)

When it comes to personal stress, the leading causes for reduced sexual drive among 21-45 year olds are parenthood-related stress (68.5%), followed bypersonal stress (57.3%) and demanding social commitments (32.5%)

Reflecting on lifestyle habits, the survey suggests that low nutrient/ high junk diets and unhealthy eating patterns have a negative effect on sexual drive.

  • Over 70% respondents who follow a healthy diet (more than five times a week) have a strong sex drive
  • Over 48% males perceive unhealthy eating habits to be the leading cause of reduced sexual drive
  • For only 6% women, unhealthy eating habits is an important cause of reduced sexual drive. Genetic/ hormonal and Body-weight issues are bigger factors for them
  • 75% men who follow a healthy diet have a strong sex drive, while only 23% men who are unhealthy-eaters claim a  strong sex drive

On the other end of the scale, over 72% physically active individuals across both genders have observed higher sex drive and frequency.

  • Out of the physically active respondents, 34.2% people indulge in sex more than twice a week and 37.9% respondents indulge in the act once a week
  • 84.8% physically active men have higher sex drive in comparison to 81.4% women.
  • However, lack of exercise hits men more strongly:

o   Over 43% men feel irregular/limited exercise impacts sexual drive

o   Inactive women (87.4%) have higher sex drive than inactive men (82.7%)

o   70.5% active men have higher sexual frequency in comparison to 59% inactive men

o   73% active women have higher sexual frequency in comparison to 63% inactive women

  • However, people who work-out regularly (86.2%) are more demanding in their sexual experiences and hence observe a lower satisfaction rate in comparison to inactive people (42.7%)

Similarly, over 88.3% people with ideal BMI have strong sex drive as compared to those who are obese, however sexual satisfaction levels are disproportionate to BMI

  • Respondents with high BMI – Obese (27%) or overweight (18.6%) experience fairly weak sexual drive

o   Only 65.7% obese people in the 21-20 year olds band have strong sex drive in comparison to 95.9% normal people; difference of 20%

  • Men (90%) with normal bodyweight claim to have stronger sex drive than women (87.2%)
  • However:

o   34% overweight men experience weak sex drive in comparison to 20.2% women

o   Underweight women (90.2%) have stronger sex drive than underweight men (81.5%)

o   Overweight women (79.8%) have stronger sex drive than overweight men (65.4%)

  • Over 73% people with normal body weight have higher sexual frequency

o   Only 19% obese people indulge in sex more than twice a week in comparison to 37.2% normal people

  • People with normal body weight have higher sexual threshold:

o   Overweight people (65.7%) attain sexual satisfaction more easily in comparison to people with normal body weight (50%), followed by (31.2%) Underweight people

o   31.8% people with normal body weight hardly reach orgasm ever, in comparison to 15.5% overweight people and 19% obese people

Sleep deprivation too has been observed to take a toll on sexual drive and frequency

  • Only 29% of those who experience erratic/ disturbed/ reduced sleep of less than six hours a day continue to experience strong sex drive as compared to 73% of those who are well rested
  • 48% of respondents in the age group of 21-30 years old experienced a reduced sexual drive due to sleep deprivation, as compared to 40% of those who are 31-45 year olds.

Recent studies suggest India has over 11.2% of the world’s total smokers. And while smoking has debilitating effect on health, this survey also revealed how smokers in Delhi NCR have admitted to lowering of sexual drive and frequency with longevity and frequency of habit.

  • Only 19% of heavy smokers (21-40 cigarettes/day) have a very strong sex drive as compared to 50% non-smokers

The impact is observed to be stronger in the long run

  • Out of 21-30 year olds heavy smokers (21-40 cigarettes/day) only 22.2% say their sex drive is very strong as compared to 55% non- smokers
  • While 17% of 31-45 year old heavy smokers (21-40 cigarettes/ day) say their sex drive is strong as compared to 47% non-smokers o35% of 21-30 year olds who smoke as much as even one cigarette/day state they have an extremely strong sex drive, but 62% of 31-45 year olds who have the same smoking frequency state that they have only somewhat strong sex drive
  • 46% of 21-30 year old smokers are not very sexually active as compared to 49% of 30-45 year olds who have similar sexual frequency

In conclusion, the survey revealed the direct impact of unhealthy lifestyle habits on sexual well-being. This assessment was arrived at basis a standard scale in medical science, which uses responses to parameters of sexual drive, sexual frequency and sexual satisfaction levels for measuring sexual health.


The study was conducted on behalf of Max Healthcare by Access Media International, a globally integrated strategic insights consulting firm. This survey was conducted online from 29th May to 7th July, 2017 across all zones of Delhi and NCR. The study was conducted among 800 adults aged 21 – 45 years of age, including employed professionals, housewives and students.

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