Weight-loss surgery improves female urinary function

January 27, 2011

Women who underwent gastric band surgery to lose weight reported significant improvements in urinary function and quality of life after the operation, say Australian researchers.

Women who underwent gastric band surgery to lose weight reported significant improvements in urinary function and quality of life after the operation, say Australian researchers.

However, men undergoing the procedure did not enjoy the same significant urinary function improvements as women, according to the authors, whose findings were published in the British Journal of Urology International (2011; 107:88-94). They also reported that erectile function was slightly worse after surgery.

Researchers led by Weranja Ranasinghe, MBBS, of Austin Hospital in Melbourne, surveyed 176 patients (142 women and 34 men), ages 47 to 53 years, who had undergone laparoscopic gastric banding surgery at a single center in Newcastle, Australia.

"We were keen to see what effect weight loss surgery had had on the patients’ sexual and urinary functions, as these are common problems in people who are very obese," Dr. Ranasinghe said. "Just under two-thirds of the women (65%) and 24% of the men had some urinary incontinence, while the majority of the men (83%) had erection problems before surgery."

Women in the study reported that weight loss had led to significant improvements in their urinary problems, possibly due to a reduction in intra-abdominal pressure, as soon as 3 to 4 months after surgery. Although women reported an overall improvement in urinary function, urge incontinence worsened.

The men in the study did not show any improvement when it came to urinary function, and the authors suggest that raised intra-abdominal pressure may not affect male urinary problems in the same way as females.

"Our results highlight an added benefit of weight loss surgery, apart from the known improvements in cardiovascular mortality and diabetes risk," Dr. Ranasinghe said. "However, the anticipated improvement in the men’s sexual function, which has been observed in studies on non-surgical weight loss, did not materialize. In fact, the men in our study reported that their erection and orgasm problems worsened after surgery."