Pain and Dysfunction with Sexual Activity after Inguinal Hernia Repair: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Am Coll Surg. 2020 Feb;230(2):237-250.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jamcollsurg.2019.10.010. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


Background: The reported incidence rates of sexual dysfunction (SD) and pain with sexual activity (PSA) after inguinal hernia repair in males vary considerably. This meta-analysis explores the rates of SD and PSA after different surgical and anesthesia types to understand patient risk after inguinal hernia repair.

Study design: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines to search 3 databases (EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Library). We identified retrospective, prospective, and randomized controlled trial studies, published on or before March 1, 2019, reporting on SD and PSA after inguinal hernia repair. We used random-effects models to calculate pooled estimates of incidence rates of SD and PSA after inguinal hernia repair. Subgroup meta-analyses and meta-regression were used to explore sources of variation.

Results: A total of 4,884 patients from 12 studies were identified. Study-level median age at the time of repair was 52.3 years old, and study-level median follow-up was 10.5 months. Definitions of SD and PSA focused on completion of intercourse for the former and pain with erection/ejaculation for the latter. The overall incidence of new-onset, postoperative SD was 5.3% (95% CI 3.6% to 7.9%) and of PSA was 9.0% (95% CI 5.8% to 13.6%). Rates of SD associated with minimally invasive surgical (MIS) and open repair were, respectively, 7.8% (95% CI 5.4% to 11.3%) and 3.7% (95% CI 2.0% to 6.8%); rates of PSA were 7.4% (95% CI 4.7% to 11.5%) and 12.5% (95% CI 6.4% to 23.3%), respectively.

Conclusions: Sexual dysfunction and PSA are not rare after inguinal hernia repair. They should be included in preoperative discussions and as standard metrics in reporting outcomes of repair in large cohorts or trials.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyspareunia / epidemiology
  • Hernia, Inguinal / surgery*
  • Herniorrhaphy*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Sexual Dysfunction, Physiological / epidemiology*