How Bariatric Surgery Can Improve Sexual Health

Obesity can impact many facets of a person’s life – their physical health, their mental health and even their sexuality.

“Prior to weight loss, our patients often tell us they don’t feel comfortable with intimacy,” said Memorial Bariatric Services Medical Director and Springfield Clinic bariatric and general surgeon Orlando Icaza, MD, FACS, FASMBS. “This can be due to a poor body image, or the health problems associated with obesity.”

A study published recently in the journal JAMA Surgery reported good news on this front for patients who undergo bariatric surgery. More than half of the women and men included in the study reported improved satisfaction.

with their sex lives not only immediately after the procedure, but in follow-up surveys conducted over the next five years.

“This is great news, because it shows the increase in satisfaction that our patients report in the months following their surgery can persist over time,” Dr. Icaza said.

The study followed around 2,000 patients who had undergone weight-loss surgery. Prior to the surgery, more than 70 percent said their sex lives were not satisfying.

Researchers followed up with the patients after surgery to assess various dimensions of sexuality, including how often they engaged in sexual activity and their overall level of desire to do so. The majority of the group reported feeling more desire after their weight loss, as well as an increased ability to act on those desires due to improvements in their health.

Although participants did report a decrease in the frequency of sexual activity over the five years following their procedures, their overall satisfaction with their sex lives continued to be higher than it was prior to their weight loss.

“This isn’t an easy subject for many patients to talk about,” Dr. Icaza said. “But it can have a big impact on quality of life. We encourage anyone with concerns to talk to their doctor.”

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