Libido & Obesity: Does Your Libido Change After Weight Loss Surgery?
Intimacy and Weight Change: How your Sex Life Might Change After Bariatric Surgery (Gastric Sleeve)
Weight loss surgery is typically a life changing event. In addition to the release of excess body fat and kilos, there are many other changes that might occur in your life after weight loss surgery or “bariatric surgery” such as a gastric sleeve. Often, when you feel better about how you look, your confidence and assertiveness will soar. But there’s more to it than confidence, as life changes (such as libido) are intertwined. Your entire lifestyle often changes – and needs to change – before AND after weight loss surgery for obesity.
Even your identity undergoes a notable shift when you lose weight. You will no longer be someone living with obesity; you will be someone focused on maintaining your bariatric surgery results and aiming to attain a comfortable body weight and healthy BMI.
- You will be eating a lot less food after a gastric sleeve or similar bariatric procedure.
- It is also likely you’ll be required to choose meals that are richer in protein and lower in carbohydrates.
- You will also find you’ll likely be exercising more now than ever. That’s because as the weight comes off, you’ll feel freer to move AND more inspired to get in shape.
Your body’s nutritional uptake can also change with Bariatric procedures. With a gastric sleeve, gastric bypass or gastric balloon surgery, you may be asked to take extra vitamins or dietary supplements to help keep your nutritional intake at an optimal level for healing. This is usually the case as you are adjusting to your surgery results and new eating patterns, but you may need to take certain supplements for the duration of your life.
Yet with the weight moving off your body in a way that the kilos may never have shifted BEFORE your bariatric surgery, you are likely looking and feeling much better – healthier and potentially more energetic – every day. Going upstairs will no longer seem as daunting as they have in the past, and in general, moving will be easier and less painful on your joints as your weight reduces to a healthier, lower status quo.
It also doesn’t matter which kind of weight loss surgery you have had, you will experience changes with the lap-band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass. But what about your sex life? That has probably experienced some major changes as well, or at least it will.
What is Bariatric Weight Loss Surgery such as a Gastric Sleeve, Lapband or Gastric Bypass?
If you’re just now exploring weight loss surgery, it’s helpful to know that it’s often called Bariatric Weight Loss surgery or Bariatric Surgery. Bariatric surgery procedures are surgical ways to help people to lose weight when they are living with extreme obesity that has been unchangeable with other weight loss efforts.
Bariatric surgery is a serious procedure. Often times, weight loss surgery is a last resort when more traditional methods of changing your weight (e.g., through diet and exercise) do NOT seem to be providing the right results. Bariatric surgery is also an option for people who have serious health problems and cannot achieve weight loss through any other method (such as if they cannot exercise safely).
There are different types of Bariatric Surgery for Obesity
There are different types of weight loss surgery, but they all work to limit the amount of food you can hold within your stomach. All surgical options come with surgical and post-surgery risks. So you will want to discuss and evaluate all of your options with your Bariatric Specialist, and be sure you understand what will be required of you before – and after – your surgery procedure.
Sex and Intimacy after Surgery – For Women
- Hormones are intricately linked with a number of psychological and physical functions
- Hormone level changes can have significant impacts on your reproductive organs, your emotional well-being and libido.
- In women, obesity tends to produce an excess amount of the hormone estrogen.
- Having unbalanced levels of different hormones in your system can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms.
Fortunately, your hormone levels will often tend to change and become re-balanced after weight loss, especially after significant or massive weight loss. However, you will ideally need to see an Endocrinologist or Bariatric Specialist to help monitor your hormone levels as you lose weight, to be sure they remain stable at healthy, optimal levels – especially if you’re trying to conceive or approaching menopause.
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 shown that the sex drive (libido) of women often increases after weight loss and of course after weight loss surgery. This may in part be due to having more body confidence and self esteem but also due to hormone changes.
Body Weight and Intimacy: Up to 70% of women report improvement in their sex lives after Weight Loss Surgery
One study found that nearly 70% of women who had weight loss surgery reported noticeable improvement in their sex lives after weight loss.
63% of the women surveyed in the study had scored within a range to suggest that sexual dysfunction was common before they had their surgery; but within six months of their weight loss surgery, 68% of those same women reported their dysfunction (in essence, their intimacy concerns) were resolved. Not only can arousal be increased after your weight changes to a healthier level and healthier BMI, but you may also experience improvements in specific areas of intimacy – such as having increased desire, increased overall satisfaction with intimacy and even increased lubrication. (For women who suffer from mild urinary incontinence, painful intercourse, vaginal atrophy or vaginal laxness, the MonaLisa Touch laser system can also be of assistance.)
Changes at the 2 Year Mark for Females who had Bariatric Surgery
- Within two years, most of the women who were surveyed reported significant improvements with their sex lives.
- Overall, they reported that the quality of their lives (QOL) had improved tremendously after losing weight through weight loss surgery.
One of the contributing factors does seem to be that they felt better because their hormone levels have returned to a more normal balance.
If you’re wanting 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?
Research data can sometimes show conflicting information, but 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 and expand your family; losing weight may be able to help you improve your chances AND may help you to have a healthier pregnancy.
Even so, it’s important that you consult with a fertility specialist for an assessment if you’re trying to conceive; as there can be other reasons for reduced fertility; and your hormones may be at unhealthy levels for reasons other than obesity. So be sure to seek out a caring Specialist.
Sex and Intimacy after Surgery – For Men
Men may 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 or lead to lower levels of libido or poor sexual performance. Both men and women can also experience difficulties with intimacy or sexual relationships, often relating to low self-esteem or poor body image relating to their obesity.
The better you feel about yourself – the more positive the self-image you hold of how you feel you look, the better you will tend to feel during intimacy and sexual relations. Sex and intimacy are often improved simply because you tend to feel better about yourself after weight loss surgery and losing a significant amount of weight or achieving a healthier Body Mass Index (BMI).
There is a chance you may still experience some intimacy challenges or even relationship difficulties after you lose your excess weight, however. This is often related to deep-rooted self-esteem triggers about your body, or negative self-talk that you may have held for most of you life. Counseling and therapy is often necessary to help combat those self-esteem challenges, and can help you recover and heal from earlier scenarios or insensitive comments about your body shape or body size.
Testosterone is the male hormone that is needed for sex drive as well as fertility. Weight loss surgery for men can help to restore the testosterone hormone levels to optimal levels, or more normal levels. In a recent study, men reported their sexual function/libido BEFORE and then AFTER their bariatric procedures (weight loss surgery). Nearly all of the surveyed men reported improvements to their sexual functioning AFTER losing their excess 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
Getting in shape and losing weight can do a lot for your self-esteem (although if you have redundant folds of excess skin, you’ll likely need Body Contouring Surgery (Body Lift surgery or Abdominoplasty surgery) to feel you’ve really made a significant change to your overall body appearance.
Regardless of your gender and your current weight, however, losing weight through weight loss surgery is NOT always the answer for everyone. It is a serious choice for obese individuals, and carries several surgical risks. These surgery risks must be balanced, however, with the risk of remaining obese, of having poor cardiovascular health and a dangerously high Body Mass Index (BMI) along with health conditions such as Type II Diabetes, Gout, recurrent skin infections and other health concerns relating to your weight.
A commitment to changing your overall lifestyle is the FIRST important step in ensuring that you have a successful outcome from your bariatric weight loss surgery.
Improving your sex life and increasing your libido – a likely but not guaranteed outcome – is just ONE of the many benefits of weight loss surgery.
Want to Improve Your Sex Life? Read this Gastric Sleeve Patient Story in the Sydney Morning Herald
Obesity & Bariatric Surgery – References and Further Reading
Quality of Life After Weight Loss Surgery & Weight Change
Of course, improving your overall quality of life is the number one reason for seeking Bariatric Surgery.
Our Patient Care Advisors can suggest professional, experienced Bariatric Specialists, Nutritionists and Weight Loss Surgeons in your area of Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Darwin, Perth, Brisbane and other regions of your State.
We can also give you information about post-weight loss Body Contouring surgeries. These include liposuction, a belt lipectomy (circumferential abdominoplasty), a tummy tuck, arm reduction (upper arm lift Brachioplasty) or thigh lift/thigh reduction procedures. These are often required as the second stage of body reshaping by individuals who have lost a large amount of weight, either through diet and exercise alone or through bariatric procedures and subsequent lifestyle changes.