Bariatric surgery linked to improvements in psychosocial, sex lives for most adults

August 09, 2022

2 min read

The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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In a small study, most participants who underwent bariatric surgery experienced positive psychosocial changes and an improved sex life after surgery, according to results published in Bariatric Surgical Practice and Patient Care.

“This study demonstrated that bariatric surgery resulted in positive changes in the psychosocial and sexual lives of morbidly obese patients,” Münire Temel, PhD, assistant professor in the department of social service and consultancy at the Vocational School of Social Sciences at Tekirda Namik Kemal University in Turkey, and colleagues wrote. “It is thought that questioning patients’ psychosocial and sexual lives before and after bariatric surgery is essential in evaluating the results of the treatment and planning the care. Health professionals can provide information and support to these patients regarding their psychological and sexual problems in nonjudgmental and privacy-respecting approaches.”

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Researchers interviewed 20 adults aged 18 to 45 years with obesity who underwent bariatric surgery at a medical center in Antalya, Turkey, between April and June 2021 (mean age, 40.15 years; 55% women). Participants completed a personal data form with seven questions on demographics, obesity and bariatric surgery. Interviews were conducted in a semi-structured format with questions on psychosocial changes after bariatric surgery, sexual attractiveness, desires and satisfactions, and challenges during sexual intercourse.

Mean BMI in the study cohort decreased from 42.5 kg/m2 before surgery to 29.3 kg/m2 after surgery. Half of the participants reported no change in the frequency of sexual intercourse from before surgery to after surgery.

More than half of participants reported several psychosocial changes, including other people noticing their weight loss, their clothes looking better, increased interest from a spouse, increased motivation and sense of happiness, and increased self-confidence and socialization. Nine participants reported having fewer mobility problems. One person said they were sensitive to food smells after surgery, and two people reported unhappiness due to skin sagging.

Eleven participants reported an increase in sexual performance and desire after surgery compared with before surgery, whereas only two reported a decrease in sexual desire. Half of the participants said they had increased sexual attractiveness, and 13 said it was easier to position during sexual activity. Eight participants reported increased sexual satisfaction, and seven said they had decreased fatigue during sexual intercourse.

“Numerous subthemes under the central theme of changes in sexual life related to positive changes were reached,” the researchers wrote. “These include ‘easier positioning’ and ‘decreased fatigue’ during sexual intercourse. It is understood that the increase in mobility provided by weight loss has positive reflections on sexual life as it allows more comfortable body movements.”

The researchers wrote that two participants reported a decrease in sexual desire after surgery and said aesthetic and physiological factors that negatively affect sexual desire should be considered after surgery.

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