Joint Connection After Surgery

Joint replacement surgery for osteoarthritis associated with improved sexual function

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Osteoarthritis in the knee or hip can make intimacy difficult between couples. Surgery to replace painful joints could help.

A study presented at a conference found that joint replacement surgery to treat bad knees and hips resulted in improved sexual function for 90 percent of osteoarthritis patients.

Patients' sex drive and overall sexual well-being improved after surgery. Researchers also stressed the need for doctors and patients to discuss patients' sexual activity and needs on a one-on-one basis.

"Stretch and take care of new joints."

The study, led by Jose Rodriguez, MD, orthopedic surgeon and chief of the Center for Joint Preservation and Reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, included 147 patients with osteoarthritis who were scheduled to have total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA), in which the hip or knee joints are completely replaced.

Patients averaged about 58 years of age and more than half of the participants were women.

Before and after surgery, patients answered questionnaires regarding their sexual activity, stiffness, pain and any psychological issues.

Prior to surgery, about two-thirds of patients reported physical problems with sexual activity. Specifically, 67 percent had pain, 49 percent had reduced sex drive, 36 percent had stiffness and 14 percent could not get into proper position.

In addition, 91 percent reported some kind of issue with their overall mental well-being and 36 percent had issues with their sexual self-image.

After receiving the hip and knee replacements, 84 percent of patients reported improvements in their overall well-being and 55 percent had improved sexual self-image.

Among other improvements after surgery, 42 percent of patients reported improved libido, 41 percent had intercourse more often and 36 percent had longer intercourse.

“This study emphasizes the importance of including sexuality and sexual activity as an important component of evaluating the functional outcome of total hip and total knee [replacement],” Dr. Rodriguez said in a press release.

Surgery negatively impacted sexual function in 16 percent of patients, and 10 percent feared damaging their new knee or hip joints.

To address the fear, Dr. Rodriguez said it is important for doctors to discuss overall sexual function and activity with each patient on an individual basis.

“This could be in the form of a one-on-one discussion with patients, or [the provision] of information booklets, or both if necessary, to effectively determine and address this fear," he said.

The study was presented Tuesday at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' 2013 Annual Meeting. The results should be interpreted with caution as the study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 20, 2013
Last Updated:
August 16, 2013