Improvements in sex life are positively correlated to a reduction in chronic lower back pain following either a total disc replacement surgery or a spinal fusion, according to a Swedish study exploring the relationship between back pain and sexual function based on the type of surgery performed.
As detailed in the December edition of The Spine Journal, a randomized, controlled trial examined 152 chronic low back pain patients who had either total disc replacement surgery (TDR) or a posterolateral fusion (PLF) or posterior lumbar interbody fusion (PLIF).
Patient back pain, function and quality of life were assessed before the surgery and at one and two year intervals following the procedure, as were answers to questions on sexual function. In the past, sexual dysfunction such as male retrograde ejaculation (when semen enters the bladder instead of being released through the urethra) had been reported following anterior lumbar fusion, thus sparking the researchers to learn if either of the two surgeries put patients at greater risk for sexual dysfunction.
Prior to the disc replacement or fusion, 30 percent of patients said that their lower back pain, limited their sex lives, while 34 percent of patients reported that they had enhanced back pain as a result of their sex lives.
According to the study findings, patients in both the total disc replacement and fusion groups reported improvements in their sex lives, which the researchers correlated to reductions in lower back pain following the surgeries.
The study also found that there was no negative effect of erectile dysfunction or retrograde ejaculation in men following either total disc replacement or fusion. However, 26 percent of patients in the fusion group did report a decline in reaching orgasm after the surgery, despite having a reduction in back pain. In comparison, only 3 percent of the patients in the TDR group reported difficulties achieving orgasm following surgery.