Intimacy, Libido and Sex After Weight Loss Surgery

Does your libido change after weight loss surgery?

Weight loss surgery is a life changing event. In addition to the loss of excess body fat, there are many changes that might occur in your life after bariatric procedures like a gastric sleeve. When you feel better about how you look, your confidence and assertiveness will soar. This article considers the impact of weight loss surgery on your libido, confidence & intimacy in your love life.

But there’s more to it than confidence. Lifestyle changes often change – and need to change – before and after weight loss. Even your identity undergoes a notable shift when you lose weight. You are no longer living with obesity. Instead, you will be focusing on maintaining your results. As a result, you will be eating less food after bariatric surgery. You will also need to choose meals that are richer in protein and lower in carbs.

Finally, you will also find you can exercise more, now than ever. As the weight comes off, you will feel freer and more inspired to get in shape! No matter what weight loss procedure you undertake, you will experience life changes. But what about your sex life?

What is Bariatric or Weight Loss Surgery?

Weight loss surgery is also known as bariatric weight loss surgery or bariatric surgery. These procedures are surgical methods to help you lose weight if you are living with extreme obesity that has been unchangeable with other weight loss efforts.

Bariatric surgery is a serious procedure and is often the last resort when more traditional weight loss methods fail. It is also an option for you if you have serious health problems and cannot exercise safely.

What are the Different Types of Bariatric Surgery?

There are several different weight-loss surgical procedures.  All weight-loss surgical procedures work to limit the amount of food you can hold in your stomach. And all surgical options come with surgical and post-surgical risks. You will need to discuss and evaluate all your options with your bariatric specialist. It is also important you understand what is required of you before and after your procedure.

Women: Sex and Intimacy After Surgery

Our hormones are intricately linked with many psychological and physical functions. As a result, hormone level changes can have significant impacts on your reproductive organs, your emotional wellbeing and libido. In women, obesity tends to produce an excess amount of the hormone estrogen. If a number of different hormones in your system are unbalanced, it can lead to many uncomfortable symptoms.

Fortunately, hormone levels often change and rebalance after significant weight loss. However, you will need to seen an endocrinologist or bariatric specialist to help monitor your hormone levels as you lose weight, to ensure they remain stable at healthy, optimal levels. This is especially important if you are trying to conceive or are approaching menopause.

Further, weight loss surgery causes hormone levels to stabilize and causes estrogen to decrease which essentially lowers a women’s risk of breast cancer. Studies have also shown that a woman’s libido often increases after weight loss and after weight loss surgery. This may be due, in part, to having more body confidence and self esteem as well as hormone changes.

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Body Weight and Intimacy

Studies show that up to 70% of women report improvement in their sex lives after weight loss surgery. Further, 63% of women in the study had scored within a range to suggest they suffered from sexual dysfunction before surgery. Within six months of their weight loss surgery, 68% of those same women reported their dysfunction or intimacy concerns were resolved.

Not only can arousal increase after weight changes, but you may also experience improvements in specific areas of intimacy. This includes:

  • Increased desire
  • Overall satisfaction with intimacy
  • Increased lubrication

Within two years, most women reported significant improvements with their sex lives. Overall, they reported that the quality of their lives had improved tremendously after losing weight through weight loss surgery.

Further, one of the contributing factors does seem to be that they felt better because their hormone levels returned to a normal balance. The collected data also showed that women’s reproductive hormone levels had also increased, which seems to back up data that links lower libido and higher infertility rates with obesity.

As a result, if you want to have children, returning your reproductive hormones to normal levels through weight loss can also help increase your fertility and chances of conception.

Are Obesity and Infertility Linked?

Overall, obesity has been linked to difficulties conceiving and potentially a lack of ovulation. Increasing your chances to ovulate is important if you are trying to conceive. As a result, losing weight may be able to help you improve your chances and may help you to have a healthier pregnancy.

It is important, therefor, that you consult with a fertility specialist for an assessment if you’re trying to conceive. There can be other reasons for reduced fertility and your hormones may be at unhealthy levels for reasons other than obesity.

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Men: Sex and Intimacy After Surgery

Men can experience erectile dysfunction or shortness of breath during intercourse when they are out of shape, overweight or obese. Obesity in men also leads to low levels of testosterone, which can contribute to lower levels of libido or poor sexual performance. Testosterone is the male hormone needed for both sex drive and fertility. As a result, weight loss surgery can help men restore their testosterone to normal levels.

Further, in a recent study, men reported their sexual function and libido before and after their bariatric procedures. Nearly all the men surveyed reported improvements in their sexual functions after losing weight. Male hormone levels were also recorded, and data demonstrated that hormone levels after weight loss were definitely improved.

Losing Weight, Body Image and Self-Esteem

Both men and women can also experience difficulties with intimacy or sexual relationships. This often relates to low self-esteem or poor body image relating to obesity. The better you feel about yourself, the more positive your self-image. And, as a result, the better you will feel during intimacy and sexual relations.

There is also a chance you may still experience intimacy challenges or relationship difficulties after losing weight. This is due to deep-rooted self-esteem issues about your body. As a result, counselling and therapy are often necessary to combat self-esteem issues. This can help your recover and heal from issues in your life related to your weight.

Getting in shape and losing weight can do a lot for your self-esteem. However, if you are suffering from redundant skin folds, you will likely need body contouring surgeries, like a body lift or abdominoplasty, to feel comfortable in your body. Regardless of gender or current weight, however, weight loss surgery is not always the right choice for everyone. It is a serious decision for obese patients and carries several surgical risks.

As a result, it is important to discuss your health with a bariatric specialist and your GP to weight up the risks of your obesity, poor cardiovascular health, and dangerously high BMI with the risks of surgery.

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Quality of Life after Weight Loss Surgery

Committing to changing your overall lifestyle is the first important step in ensuring that you have a successful surgical outcome. Improving your sex life and increasing your libido is just one of the possible benefits of weight loss surgery.

Improving your quality of life is the number one reason for seeking bariatric surgery. It is important to communicate with your weight loss specialist, bariatric surgeon and nutritional advisors about the specific weight change options that are right for you.

If you want to learn more about post-bariatric weight loss surgery, contact Dr Richard Maxwell today. In your first consultation, you can discuss what you can expect from  surgery and if it is right for you.

Dr Maxwell can also give you information about any necessary post-weight loss procedures including:

  • Body Contouring
  • Liposuction
  • Belt Lipectomy (also known as circumferential abdominoplasty)
  • Tummy Tuck
  • Brachioplasty/Arm Lift
  • Thigh Lift or Reduction

These procedures are often required at the second stage of body reshaping by individuals who have lost a large amount of weight either through diet, exercise or bariatric surgery.

For more information contact the clinic.

Last updated: September 18, 2020
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Dr Richard Maxwell MBBS FRACS(Plas)
Mr. Richard Maxwell graduated in medicine from Monash University in Melbourne in 1981. He trained in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Alfred Hospital, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Victorian Plastic Surgery Unit in Melbourne. He completed his training in 1989, gaining the Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.

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