After losing an average of 118 pounds, men experienced significant improvement in sexual function.

ORLANDO—Morbid obesity can cause sexual dysfunction in men, but new findings suggest that weight loss resulting from gastric bypass surgery may normalize sexual function.

The finding comes from a study of 95 male patients undergoing gastric bypass surgery who completed the Brief Sexual Function Inventory (BSFI) before and after surgery. The BSFI scores then were compared with the BSFI scores of men who participated in the Olmstead County Study of Urinary and Health Status Survey, a community-based prospective study often used as a baseline for study comparison in this area of medicine.

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The 95 men had a mean age of 47.9 years (range 19-70 years) and mean BMI of 51.2 kg/m2 (range 36-89 kg/m2) before surgery. At baseline, surgery patients, on average, reported a substantially greater degree of sexual dysfunction than did the Olmstead County cohort in all domains, after controlling for age. The mean follow-up after by-pass surgery was 19 months (range 2-45 months).

The average weight of the men dropped from 342 pounds before surgery to 224 pounds after surgery. Mean BSFI scores improved from preoperative levels for all categories studied. Sexual drive improved from 3.9 to 5.4, erectile function improved from 6.3 to 8.9, ejaculatory function improved from 4.9 to 6.3, and sexual satisfaction improved from 1.6 to 2.2. The amount of weight loss predicted the degree of improvement in all BSFI domains after controlling for age, smoking, and the presence of diabetes or hypertension.

“Obesity clearly causes sexual dysfunction in men in a dose-dependent fashion, and substantial weight loss normalizes sexual function in the morbidly obese male,” said investigator Jason A. Smith, DO, a urology resident at Albert Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia who presented study findings here at the American Urological Association annual meeting.

“Sexual dysfunction should be considered one of the numerous potentially reversible complications of obesity.”