Obesity is one of several conditions that increase a man’s risk of developing erectile dysfunction. In an article posted at EverydayHealth.com, writer Leon Vorobeichik says that obese men are two and a half times more likely to develop ED than men of normal weight. This almost inevitably raises questions about the effects of weight loss on men with ED.
One of the more radical weight-loss strategies is gastric bypass surgery, which some studies show is very effective in relieving the symptoms of ED. In fact, a Chinese study published in the May 2015 issue of “Obesity Surgery” found significant improvements in erectile function among men who underwent Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery (RYGB).
RYGB Procedure Explained
Considered the gold standard in bariatric surgery, the RYGB procedure bypasses both the stomach and duodenum, routing food to the jejunum, which is at the middle of the three-chamber small intestine (duodenum, jejunum, and ileum). The effect of this bypass is to sharply reduce the absorption of calories and nutrients. As a result, this caloric reduction speeds the weight loss process. Dietary supplements help to compensate for the reduced absorption of necessary nutrients.
In the Chinese study, researchers examined the effects of RYGB surgery on ED symptoms in 39 obese men, all of whom suffered from vascular insufficiencies that contributed to their symptoms of impotence. One year after surgery, all men showed significant improvements in erectile function, as self-assessed using the International Index of Erectile Function-5.
In an article posted at BariatricTimes.com, Harvard medical student Fan Di Xia recounts the findings of a meta-analysis of data on the effects of bariatric surgery, including gastric bypass, on hypogonadism in both men and women. Hypogonadism is a condition in which the gonads — testes in men and ovaries in women — fail to secrete normal levels of sex hormones. This condition often leads to sexual dysfunction.
Looking Beyond Earlier Studies
Earlier studies have evaluated the benefits of bariatric surgery in reducing the risk of cardiovascular, endocrine, and gastrointestinal ailments, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obstructive sleep apnea. However, there has been less attention paid to the effect of bariatric surgery on hypogonadism in men and women who are obese.
After analysis of the data collected from multiple relevant studies, the Harvard students concluded that “bariatric surgery is effective at reversing obesity-related hypogonadism, and that it leads to an improvement in sexual function in both males and females.” Their article called for additional research.
Australian Lap Band Study Cited
Less positive results came from an Australian study of laparoscopic gastric banding surgery’s effects on urinary and sexual function. The study looked at how this surgery had affected 653 females and 145 males who had undergone the surgery over a period of 10 years. Its findings were published in the January 2011 issue of “BJU International.”
Women who underwent this surgery experienced improvement in their overall symptoms of urinary incontinence, including quality of life and stress incontinence. However, their symptoms of urge incontinence (spastic bladder) worsened. Men who had the surgery showed no improvements in symptoms of urinary incontinence or erectile function.
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