Improved Sexual Function Associated With Gastric Bypass In Women
November 4, 2013

Improved Sexual Function Associated With Gastric Bypass In Women

Brett Smith for - Your Universe Online

Bariatric surgery might be best known for its cosmetic affect on a person’s appearance, but a growing body of evidence is suggesting that the weight-loss procedure can lead to a cornucopia of other benefits.

A new study published in JAMA Surgery found that women who undergo the procedure report better sexual functioning, an improvement in sexual hormone levels, and a better quality of life two years after their operation.

In the first study to look exclusively at sexual function for female bariatric surgery patients, researchers said they found women who reported the poorest quality of sexual function before surgery saw the most significant improvements one year after the procedure, matching their pre-surgery counterparts who reported the highest quality of sexual function.

"For many people, sex is an important part of quality of life. The massive weight losses typically seen following bariatric surgery are associated with significant improvements in quality of life," said study author David Sarwer, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania. "This is one of the first studies to show that women also experience improvements in their sexual functioning and satisfaction, as well as significant improvements in their reproductive hormones."

Study researchers tracked over 100 women with an average body mass index (BMI) of 44.5 who underwent bariatric surgery – a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. Of the study participants, 85 had gastric bypass and 21 had gastric banding operations. After surgery, the women lost an average of nearly 33 percent of their pre-surgery body weight after the first year, and 34 percent at the end of the second year.

"Two years following surgery, women reported significant improvement in overall sexual functioning and specific domains of sexual functioning: arousal, lubrication, desires and satisfaction," the study authors noted.

Participants also saw improvements in most reproductive hormone levels two years out from surgery. They also said they had an improved body image and fewer depressive symptoms at both follow-up periods.

"These results suggest that improvements in sexual health may be added to the list of benefits associated with large weight losses seen with bariatric surgery," the authors concluded. "Future studies should investigate if these changes endure over longer periods of time, and they should investigate changes in sexual functioning in men who undergo bariatric surgery."

In another study, published by JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found an overwhelming majority of teens who underwent bariatric surgery do so without major complications.

In that study, which included over 240 teens whose median BMI was about 50, no deaths were reported during the primary hospitalization or within 30 days after the procedure. Major complications were seen in 8 percent of participants and minor complications were seen in 15 percent, the study researchers found.

"These data demonstrated that 92 percent of the 242 severely obese adolescents who underwent WLS did so without major complications,” the team wrote in their report.

“The adolescent years are crucial in the development of psychosocial and interpersonal skills, positive self-concept, and the vagaries of emotional processing in peer interaction,” wrote Dr. Michael G. Sarr of the Mayor Clinic in an accompanying editorial. “Severe obesity can disrupt these social practices and especially the resultant networking with peers that serves as the important foundation of later social integration and the feeling of individual identity and self-worth.”