Sexual behaviors, risks, and sexual health outcomes for adolescent females following bariatric surgery

Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2019 Jun;15(6):969-978. doi: 10.1016/j.soard.2019.03.001. Epub 2019 Mar 20.


Background: Adolescents females with severe obesity are less likely to be sexually active, but those who are sexually active engage in risky sexual behaviors.

Objectives: To examine patterns and predictors of sexual risk behaviors, contraception practices, and sexual health outcomes in female adolescents with severe obesity who did or did not undergo bariatric surgery across 4 years.

Setting: Five academic medical centers.

Methods: Using a prospective observational controlled design, female adolescents undergoing bariatric surgery (n = 111; Mage = 16.95 ± 1.44 yr; body mass index: MBMI = 50.99 ± 8.42; 63.1% white) and nonsurgical comparators (n = 68; Mage = 16.18 ± 1.36 yr; MBMI = 46.47 ± 5.83; 55.9% white) completed the Sexual Activities and Attitudes Questionnaire at presurgery/baseline and 24- and 48-month follow-up, with 83 surgical females (MBMI = 39.27 ± 10.08) and 49 nonsurgical females (MBMI = 48.56 ± 9.84) participating at 48 months.

Results: Most experienced sexual debut during the 4-year study period, with a greater increase in behaviors conferring risk for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) for surgical females (P = .03). Half (50% surgical, 44.2% nonsurgical, P = .48) reported partner condom use at last sexual intercourse. The proportion of participants who had ever contracted an STI was similar (18.7% surgical, 14.3% nonsurgical). Surgical patients were more likely to report a pregnancy (25.3% surgical, 8.2% nonsurgical, P = .02) and live birth (16 births in 15 surgical, 1 nonsurgical), with 50% of offspring in the surgical cohort born to teen mothers (age ≤19 yr).

Conclusions: Bariatric care guidelines and practices for adolescent females must emphasize the risks and consequences of teen or unintended pregnancies, sexual decision-making, dual protection, and STI prevention strategies to optimize health and well-being for the long term.

Keywords: Adolescent; Health risk; Pregnancy; Sexual behavior; Young adult.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior
  • Bariatric Surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity, Morbid / surgery*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy in Adolescence / prevention & control
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Sex Education
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Sexual Health*
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases / prevention & control
  • Treatment Outcome