10 January 2011
Erection problems after weight-loss surgery
by George Atkinson
Achieving a healthy weight generally leads to better penile function, but when the weight loss is achieved via surgery, the risk of erectile dysfunction increases, report Australian researchers in the urology journal BJUI.
The study examined sexual function, urinary function and quality of life in nearly 200 men and women who underwent gastric band surgery.
The women reported significant improvements in urinary function and quality of life after the operation, but men undergoing the procedure did not enjoy the same significant urinary function improvements as the women. Additionally, they also reported erectile function was slightly worse after surgery, unlike studies following non-surgical weight loss where sexual function improves.
"We were keen to see what effect weight loss surgery had had on the patients' sexual and urinary functions," says study lead Dr Weranja Ranasinghe from the Department of Urology at Austin Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. "Gastric band surgery is increasingly being used to tackle the most severe cases of obesity... however it is still regarded as a last resort by many surgeons, after non-surgical options like diet and exercise have failed, and there is limited data to show its effect on sexual and urinary function."
Some of the study's findings included:
- The women in the study reported that weight loss had led to significant improvements in their urinary problems, possibly due to a reduction in intra-abdominal pressure.
- The men in the study did not show any improvement when it came to urinary function and the authors suggest that raised intra-abdominal pressure may not affect male urinary problems in the same way as females.
- Despite the men's significant weight-loss, the overall scores for erectile and orgasmic function declined over time. Age was not a factor in this reduction. This is at odds with the findings of other studies following non-surgical weight loss where sexual function actually improved.
The anticipated improvement in the men's sexual function did not materialize which left the research team somewhat puzzled. "A number of factors could have influenced this decline in sexual function after surgery. It is clear from our study that further research is needed to investigate the effects of gastric band surgery on urinary and sexual function, as such problems can be very distressing and cause a number of health and quality of life issues for patients," the study concludes.
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