People considering weight loss surgery often have numerous questions about sex after bariatric surgery. When can they begin having sex again? How will bariatric surgery affect their libido, fertility, and other areas of sexual health? Just as the recovery period after bariatric surgery is unique to the individual, the answers to these questions vary from person to person. However, bariatric patients shouldn’t feel embarrassed to ask questions or voice their concerns about sex. The following are several common questions (and answers!) regarding sex after bariatric surgery:
- When can I resume having sex after bariatric surgery? The type of bariatric procedure affects the timeline for having sex after surgery. Open bariatric surgery has a longer recovery period than laparoscopic surgery. Some individuals can begin having sex in as little as one week into their recovery, whereas others may need up to three weeks. It’s important to listen to your body during recovery. If certain positions cause pain, try a different one that’s more comfortable. If sex in general feels uncomfortable, your body likely needs more time to heal.
- Will bariatric surgery increase my libido? An unfortunate side effect of obesity is its effect on libido. Excess weight causes hormonal changes, such as decreasing sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in women and decreasing testosterone in men. These sex hormones are vital to experience sexual desire. Many bariatric patients experience libido boosts as they begin to lose weight.
- Will sex feel different after weight loss surgery? In addition to reducing sex hormones, obesity can also diminish the pleasure derived from sex. Excess body fat can hinder blood circulation. Less blood flow to the clitoris often translates to decreased sexual desire in women. In men, it can cause erectile dysfunction. In fact, 79% of men experience erectile disorders if their BMI is 25 or greater. The risk of sexual dysfunction increases three-fold with a BMI of 30 or higher.
- Does bariatric surgery improve fertility? Obesity has a strong association with infertility due to its effects on hormones. For women, weight-related hormonal changes can cause irregular, infrequent, or entirely absent ovulation. Men with obesity are 42% more likely to have a low sperm count compared to men of normal weight. They’re also 81% more likely to produce no sperm. Many bariatric patients experience fertility improvements as they lose weight.
- When can I try to conceive after bariatric surgery? Bariatric patients experience the greatest weight loss in the first two years after surgery. Becoming pregnant too soon increases health risks for the mother and baby. Pregnancy too soon after surgery may put too much strain on the body. The baby may also not receive enough nutrients during periods of rapid weight loss.
- What birth control can I use? Gastric banding, gastric sleeve, and gastric plication procedures only restrict the size of the stomach and do not affect how the body absorbs medications. Individuals who opt for those procedures can use any birth control method. In contrast, gastric bypass surgery affects how the body absorbs food and medication. Combined and progestin-only birth control pills aren’t as effective. However, the patch, the ring, IUDs, the implant, and the shot are all safe and effective options for birth control after gastric bypass surgery.
Still have questions about sex after bariatric surgery? Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your questions and concerns about weight loss surgery.