New research shows hip replacement restores patients’ sex lives

“How’s your sex life?” Neither the question nor the answer rolls off the tongue easily in polite company. That, in part, explains why doctors haven’t traditionally asked patients how joint replacement affects their sex lives, despite asking dozens of other questions before and after surgery.

When most of their patients were seniors, doctors often assumed sex wasn’t an issue. That’s beginning to change now that medicine has improved to allow joint replacement for younger people. Over the past decade, there has been an 85 percent increase in hip replacement surgeries, largely because of the number of active adults aged 45 to 65. 

“Patients sometimes ask how soon after a hip replacement they can safely have sex,” says Phillip Ireland, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Indiana University Health Physicians, specializing in hip and knee replacement. Among doctors, Ireland said it’s commonly understood that chronic pain and decreased joint mobility has a profound affect on sexual interest and stamina. Due to the body’s position during sex, Ireland says women are probably most affected by improved mobility and pain relief after hip replacement.

That’s why he isn’t surprised by a small study released by the Center for Joint Preservation and Reconstruction at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, showing 81 percent of 147 hip replacement patients were having sex more frequently after their recoveries. Forty-two percent of patients were more interested in sex and 84 percent had a better sense of well-being. “I think the study demonstrates an underreported benefit of hip replacement,” he says.

If you have joint pain, take a brief quiz and information to help you manage your pain and discover your medical options.

Phillip Ireland, MD, is part of a team of orthopedic surgeons and primary care sports medicine physicians at IU Health Physicians, working together to treat orthopedic conditions and athletic injuries. For easy access to our specialty providers, we have multiple locations in the greater Indianapolis area. To schedule an appointment with one of our providers, call 317-688-5980.

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