Sexual Function Dramatically Improves in Women Following Bariatric Surgery, Penn Study Finds

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Media Contact:Kim Menard | Kim.Menard@uphs.upenn.edu | 215-662-6183November 4, 2013

The first study to look extensively at sexual function in women who underwent bariatric surgery found that significant improvements in overall sexual function, most reproductive hormones and in psychological status were maintained over two years following surgery. Women reporting the poorest quality of sexual function prior to surgery saw the most dramatic improvements one year after surgery, on par with women who reported the highest quality of sexual function prior to surgery.  The new report by researchers with the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania appears in the November 4 edition of JAMA Surgery.

More than half of women who seek bariatric surgery report signs of sexual dysfunction and, consequentially, psychological stress.

"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 the study's lead author David Sarwer, PhD, professor of Psychology in Psychiatry and Surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine 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."

Researchers followed 106 women with an average Body Mass Index of 44.5 who underwent bariatric surgery (85 had gastric bypass and 21 had gastric banding procedures). Following surgery, the women lost an average of 32.7 percent of their original body weight after the first year, and 33.5 percent at the end of the second year.

Two years after surgery, women reported significant improvements across all categories of sexual function, sex hormones and quality of life.

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