Believe it or not, excess weight can actually derail your sexual pleasure and, in turn, your marriage as a whole.

Numerous studies have found an association between weight and sexual pleasure. Obesity can cause a number of health concerns, but it can also greatly impact your sexual performance. Excess weight is related to poor circulation and dwindling testosterone, both of which can contribute to erectile dysfunction. (Obesity can also lead to Type II diabetes, another risk factor for ED).

The good news is that losing even a moderate amount of weight can help to improve your sexual function. In fact, a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that obese men who lost just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight experienced improved desire as a result.

Other studies have linked female sexual pleasure and weight loss. A study performed at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that bariatric surgery had impressive effects on women’s sex lives.

The researchers followed women after gastric bypass surgery and found that they all experienced improved sexual pleasure in the bedroom. The study showed that women enjoyed sexual improvements across the board, including improved lubrication, arousal and desire. Their hormone levels also improved – a particularly important factor for women who were concerned with their fertility. They also reported improved body image and better relationship satisfaction following the surgery.

Why is weight loss so beneficial for one’s sexual pleasure?

The answer is two-fold. Losing weight can have physical benefits, particularly for those who are greatly overweight. It can help to regulate one's hormones and also help to improve circulation across the body (including to the genitals, which means improved sensation and greater arousal). It can also help people to move more easily and feel more comfortable during sex, as excess weight can be very hard on the body and the joints.

Losing weight can also have emotional benefits as well. Improved self-image can easily translate into improved desire and confidence in the bedroom. After undergoing bariatric surgery, the women studied might have felt comfortable in their skin for their first time, allowing themselves to truly let go and enjoy sexual pleasure. Perhaps they even felt bold enough to don lingerie or try new positions they would have considered too revealing in the past.

The same is true for men as well. Fitting into smaller jeans or having more muscle tone can mean that they suddenly feel desirable again, which can translate into a higher libido. And the more you have sex, the more you tend to want sex, creating a pattern of increased sexual pleasure overall.

Losing weight with a partner is one of the best ways to stay motivated, so make a commitment to live a healthier lifestyle with your spouse. Prepare healthy but delicious meals together instead of reaching for the takeout menu, and spend time being active each day. You will not only lose weight, but you will gain an improved sex life as a result. Talk about a win-win.

Laura Berman, PhD, is a world renowned sex and relationship educator and therapist; popular TV, radio and Internet host; New York Times best-selling author; and assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Dr. Berman is a New York Times best-selling author of many books on sexual health and pleasure, a weekly columnist for the Chicago Sun Times, and host of the radio program "Uncovered with Dr. Laura Berman."