Sexual Dysfunction Common in Women Seeking Bariatric Surgery


GRAPEVINE, TEX. — The first structured study to examine sexual function in women seeking bariatric surgery indicates that this group has marked dysfunction.

In a series of 102 severely obese women seeking bariatric surgery, average scores on the Female Sexual Functioning Index (FSFI) were significantly lower than published norms for the general population and approached those seen in women with chronic pelvic pain, Dale S. Bond, Ph.D., reported at the annual meeting of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

The FSFI asks respondents to answer 19 items on a scale of 0–5. The 19 items assess six domains of sexual functioning: desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, satisfaction, and pain.

Sixty percent of the bariatric surgery candidates had an FSFI score of 26 or less, indicating sexual dysfunction. The severely obese women scored significantly lower than did healthy controls in all six domains, according to Dr. Bond of the department of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University, Providence, R.I.

“In large population-based studies using the FSFI, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction tends to be in the low 30s. And if you look at clinical populations—for example, women with chronic pelvic pain—the prevalence is more like 62%–67%,” he noted.

This study highlights the importance of assessing sexual function in women who are candidates for bariatric surgery in order to identify those who may require further treatment, according to Dr. Bond.

The good news, he continued, is that there is some preliminary evidence to indicate that bariatric surgery itself may have a therapeutic effect for women with sexual dysfunction.

He and his coinvestigators have begun a new study examining how the profound weight loss and metabolic changes often brought about by bariatric surgery affect impaired sexual function.

“After surgery, the women start to look a lot more like healthy controls,” Dr. Bond observed.

Among the first 30 participants in this ongoing study, the presurgical prevalence of sexual dysfunction based on the FSFI score was 75%. Postoperatively, the rate dropped to 20%.

The good news is bariatric surgery may have a therapeutic effect on sexual dysfunction.

Source DR. BOND

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