Assessment of sexual dysfunction before and after surgery for lumbar disc herniation

J Neurosurg Spine. 2010 Nov;13(5):581-6. doi: 10.3171/2010.5.SPINE09906.


Object Sexuality is an important aspect of human life. Sexual activity may be affected in lumbar disc herniation through different mechanisms. The aim of this study is to evaluate patients' sexual problems and sexual behavior patterns before and after surgical treatment of lumbar disc herniation. Methods Forty-three patients were included in the study (mean age 41.4 years). A visual analog scale, the Oswestry Disability Index, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and a sexuality assessment questionnaire developed for this study were administered to the patients to evaluate pain and sexual dysfunction. Results Fifty-five percent of the men and 84% of the women reported experiencing sexual problems after the onset of low-back pain. The most common sexual problems were decreased sexual desire (18%) and premature ejaculation together with erectile dysfunction (18%) for the male patients, and decreased sexual desire (47%) for the female patients. The frequency of sexual intercourse before the operation was reduced in 78% of cases compared with the pain-free period. Postoperatively, the patients first attempted sexual intercourse a mean of 26.5 days after surgery. The frequency of intercourse was found to have increased (p = 0.01), while description of any type of sexual problem had decreased (p = 0.005) significantly. Conclusions Lumbar disc herniation has negative effects on sexual life, and not enough attention is given to the patients' sexual problems by the physicians. Decreased sexual desire and decreased sexual intercourse are the most commonly reported problems. Taking time during examination and giving simple recommendations may improve sexuality and life quality of the patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Back Pain / etiology
  • Coitus
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / etiology
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Erectile Dysfunction / diagnosis
  • Erectile Dysfunction / etiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / complications
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement / surgery*
  • Libido
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Male
  • Neurosurgical Procedures
  • Pain Measurement
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Period
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / diagnosis*
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / etiology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / psychology
  • Sexuality
  • Surveys and Questionnaires