TUESDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Although most people get a
total hip or knee replacement to decrease pain and move around more
easily, a team of orthopedic surgeons has discovered an unexpected
benefit: people enjoy sex more after surgery.
A new study found that total hip or total knee replacement
surgery improved self-reported sexual function in 90 percent of
Study author Dr. Jose Rodriguez, director of the Center for
Joint Preservation and Reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital in New
York City, created a survey to learn more about how sexual
experience was affected by getting a new joint. He said he thought
that if he brought up the topic by asking questions about
sexuality, people would respond. And they did. "Most patients won't
bring up the topic on their own," he said.
Rodriguez said that many patients fear they'll damage the new
joint if they have sex, but don't ask any questions about it. Now
he makes a point of telling people, after their operations, that
"most of what you want to do -- physical and intimate -- you can
Getting total hip or knee replacement may improve overall
well-being and self-esteem, which itself can be a turn-on, said
Rodriguez. "Anything that causes pain and affects how you move is
going to influence sexuality," he explained. After surgery, if you
feel you are more sensual yourself, you're going to enjoy having
sex, he added.
The study, which is scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting in Chicago,
involved reports about sexual activity done before and after total
hip or knee replacement surgery. Male and female patients under 70
years old were recruited from the practices of two arthroplasty
surgeons. They were asked to anonymously complete and mail back one
survey before surgery and two other surveys at six months and one
year after surgery.
Out of 147 people who returned the preoperative questionnaire,
116 returned the six-month survey and 65 also sent back the
one-year survey. The mean age of patients was about 58 years; there
were 69 males and 78 females in the initial group.
Before surgery, 67 percent of respondents reported having
physical problems with sexual activity that included pain and
stiffness; reduced sex drive (49 percent); an inability to attain
the necessary position (14 percent); and psychological issues such
as a lack of well-being (91 percent) and low self-image (53
After surgery, 42 percent of the patients reported an
improvement in interest in sex; 35 percent said they had increased
duration of intercourse; 41 percent reported more frequent sex; 84
percent said they had improved well-being; and 55 percent reported
having an improved self-image.
Hip replacement patients had a higher rate of improvement than
did knee replacement patients, and after hip surgery, more females
reported improvement in sexual activity than did males, the
Rodriguez said the researchers think the results show that
sexual function needs to be included in the routine evaluation of
patients after both surgeries to help answer patients' questions
about the safety of sex after surgery.
He noted a few limitations of the study: the results are based
solely on the self-report by patients and includes only those
responses sent back. "It's possible only the people interested in
sex bothered to send back the surveys," he noted. Rodriguez also
said he wished he had consulted with an expert in sexuality. "We
basically just made up the questions we thought we should ask, with
some help from some of our patients," he explained.
Yet the outcomes of the study make sense, said Dr. Giles
Scuderi, vice president of orthopedics at North Shore-LIJ
Healthcare System in Great Neck, N.Y. "The most important message
here is overall performance and self-image are improved. Patients'
lifestyles are definitely better after these surgeries," Scuderi
A second study slated to be presented at the meeting by Swiss
researchers showed that patients undergoing total hip replacement
surgery are more active than were patients who got the procedure a
decade ago. They also found that most of them return to their
previous recreational activities, including biking, hiking,
swimming and golfing.
Scuderi said there are about 720,000 total knee replacement
surgeries and 450,000 total hip replacement surgeries in the United
States annually. On average, he estimated the cost for the surgery,
hospital stay and implants for an average joint replacement is
about $25,000, not including the cost of rehabilitation.
Because the studies were presented at a medical meeting, the
data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until
published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Learn more about joint replacement surgery from the
U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and
Musculoskeleta...nd Skin Diseases.
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