Severely obese women might see improvements in sexual function six months after bariatric surgery, according to new research in Sexual Medicine.
Obesity rates have risen worldwide, and with the excess weight comes higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, and poor self-esteem, which can all take a toll on sexual function. Obesity can also interfere with sexual interest, sexual performance, and sexualpractices, leading in some to avoidance of sexual situations.
Bariatric surgery “is the most effective treatment for obesity and related comorbidities,” the authors explained. For their study, they analyzed the sexual function of 62 obese women before bariatric surgery and six months afterward.
The research took place in Brazil between April 2015 and April 2016. The women’s average age was 37 years, and all were sexually active.
Before surgery, and again at a 6-month follow-up point, the women completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), a questionnaire that evaluates six domains of women’s sexuality: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain. The women also looked at a document depicting twelve common sexual positions and indicated how often they engaged in each position.
Sixty-two percent of the women met the criteria for sexual dysfunction based on their FSFI scores before bariatric surgery. Six months later, this rate dropped to 19%. Improvements were made in all six FSFI domains, with the greatest improvements seen in the orgasm and satisfaction domains.
Improvements were greatest in women who had sexual dysfunction before surgery.
The women also reported increased frequency of three sexual positions, including one man-on-top position, one intertwined position, and one sitting position.
It’s possible that weight loss could have made it easier for the women to engage in these positions more comfortably, the authors said.
They added “We hypothesize that weight loss not only improved the individual’s perception of her sexual functioning but also gave her better body dynamics, allowing different sexual positions that were difficult before surgery.”
Because the women were of a higher socioeconomic status than other patients in Brazil, the results might not apply to all extremely obese women in that country, they said. The short follow-up time and the self-report nature of the data were other acknowledged limitations.
Oliveira, Claudia Fernandes de Almeida, MD, MSc, et al.
“Changes in Sexual Function and Positions in Women With Severe Obesity After Bariatric Surgery”
(Full-text. March 2019)