Sex after bariatric surgery: Navigating the intimate life

Sex after bariatric surgery generally improves after your weight loss operation. This applies to both men and women. Obesity and obesity-related diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypertension, can make your sexual life’s quality worse. Bariatric operations are at the moment the most effective method of treating obese patients. There are many advantages of a bariatric procedure, such as gastric sleeve surgery (sleeve gastrectomy), and gastric bypass surgery. One of them is improving the sexual life quality of obese patients. Men and women with obesity also report a significant improvement in their overall life quality after a bariatric operation. Thanks to hormonal balance there are no more mood swings.

Psychological aspects are also very important. Your emotional state after the operation may change for the better. Losing weight can make you feel healthier, robust, and empowered. All these will highly likely have a positive impact on your intimate relationships.

How long after bariatric surgery can I have sex?

We advise you to wait for your sexual activity after bariatric surgery for 3-4 weeks. Your body needs to fully regenerate itself and heal its postoperative wounds. Some patients can have sex even three weeks after the operation, while others may have to wait longer before their bodies recover enough. Keep in mind that the answer changes from person to person. Remember – there is no reason to avoid intercourse if you don’t have any pain or discomfort. On the other hand, don’t push yourself when you don’t feel like coming back to your sex life yet. Try to understand the limits of your body recovering after weight loss surgery.

Will sex be different after the surgery?

Yes, it will! Weight loss, hormonal changes, increased libido, greater self-awareness, rediscovered feminine or male energy – all these are going to bring more pleasure to your sex life. Some patients, however, report problems while having sex. Others may experience low libido drive after their bariatric surgery. We are now going to explain to you in detail how this kind of weight loss surgery can affect the quality of your sex life.

How will it be different?

Your sexual activity after the bariatric surgery is most probably going to improve in a good way. Let us give you an example of one of the research studies. A team of researchers decided to check how bariatric surgery affects the sex life of people with obesity. They examined over 2,000 patients after bariatric surgery, both men and women. They all answered detailed questions about their sexual life before and after the procedure. It turned out that within a year after the operation, the quality of sex improved for half of the patients! Bariatric patients said that after the operation they felt that their libido increased, had more sexual contact, and greater satisfaction from intercourse. (1)

Many men with obesity experience erectile dysfunction or have issues with their physical performance during sex. After a major weight loss, these problems will most probably go away. Bariatric surgery increases the concentration of the male sex hormone, aka testosterone. With a higher testosterone level, your sex life is going to improve because it affects libido, erection, and the ability to achieve orgasm and ejaculation (2).

It’s not only the case for men. Studies also show that as many as 60% of women with major obesity suffer from sexual dysfunction. (3) After bariatric surgery, as in men, there is a clear improvement in mood, body image, and self-esteem.

Change in libido drive with weight loss

If you are a woman, together with weight loss after your bariatric surgery, your hormonal profile changes accordingly. This leads to a libido increase. 70% of women after the operation experience a significant improvement in sexual function and greater satisfaction with their intimate life. (3) Same for men – according to studies, with weight loss and testosterone levels going up, libido rises as well. But what if this case does not apply to you and you experience low libido drive instead?

What does low libido drive after surgery mean?

Libido is a very personal thing and changes from person to person. Many different factors can trigger or suppress it. It’s obvious that you experience discomfort after your operation. Your body will be recovering and the first month won’t be very easy. You may be in pain and you most probably get tired easily. Not only do your wounds need to heal but also your mind is adapting to the changes in your body. All these factors may definitely affect your libido level and sex life after a bariatric operation.

Here's how to increase sex drive after bariatric surgery

What if you still face some intimacy problems in your relationship? Maybe you have a low sex drive but it’s been a long time since losing weight. The reason for all this can be strictly psychological. Some patients don’t feel good about their body image and this directly affects their desire. It’s always good to talk to a specialist about any kind of problems you’re facing that are affecting your recovery. 

Focus on non-sexual forms of intimacy with your partner. You may hug and hold hands, which can be more beneficial for your relationship and desire to arouse than focusing only on sexual intercourse. When you insist on trying to come back to your sex life before you’re ready, it’s stressful and demotivating. 

If you’re having little desire even after some months following your operation, you might be concerned about loose skin. Excess skin may be a problem that happens when you lose weight rapidly. If you don’t like your appearance and if you think this affects your motivation and sex drive, you may consider skin removal surgeries, such as tummy tuck.

Possible problems while having sexual intercourse

If you face lowered libido or unsatisfying sexual performance, remember that as a result of any kind of major surgery your physical activity is limited. Your mood can be temporarily low because of mental distress.

These possible problems may occur because of both physical and psychological underlying reasons. Here is the list of possible problems you can experience when it comes to your sex after bariatric surgery:

  • Pain
  • Tiredness
  • Bloating and gas
  • Complications after the surgery (rarely)
  • Psychological issues

Most of these problems only occur in the first month after the surgery. It’s always best to listen to your body and embrace the recovery process. If you still have ongoing problems make sure you consult your doctor and your psychologist if needed.


(1) Steffen KJ, King WC, White GE, Subak LL, Mitchell JE, Courcoulas AP, Flum DR, Strain G, Sarwer DB, Kolotkin RL, Pories W, Huang AJ. Changes in Sexual Functioning in Women and Men in the 5 Years After Bariatric Surgery. JAMA Surg. 2019 Jun 1;154(6):487-498. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2018.1162. PMID: 30785625; PMCID: PMC6584276. Link

(2) Rao SR, Kini S, Tamler R. Sex hormones and bariatric surgery in men. Gend Med. 2011 Oct;8(5):300-11. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2011.05.007. Epub 2011 Jun 25. PMID: 21705285. Link

(3) Sarwer DB, Spitzer JC, Wadden TA, et al. Changes in Sexual Functioning and Sex Hormone Levels in Women Following Bariatric Surgery. JAMA Surg. 2014;149(1):26–33. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2013.5022 Link

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