Sexual activity and function in women with advanced stages of pelvic organ prolapse, before and after laparoscopic or vaginal mesh surgery

Int Urogynecol J. 2021 May;32(5):1157-1168. doi: 10.1007/s00192-020-04406-1. Epub 2020 Aug 7.


Introduction and hypothesis: The differential impact of specific pelvic organ prolapse (POP) surgery on sexual activity and function is unknown. Our primary aim was to analyse sexual inactivity and function in women with symptomatic advanced stages of POP and the changes incurred after laparoscopic or vaginal mesh surgery.

Methods: We performed a secondary analysis of sexual outcomes of a previously published randomised controlled trial comparing laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy/cervicopexy (LSC-Cx) and anterior vaginal mesh (AVM) in 120 women (60/group) with symptomatic anterior POP stage ≥ 3 and apical ≥ 2. Sexual activity and function were assessed preoperatively and 1 and 2 years postoperatively using the Pelvic Organ Prolapse/Incontinence Sexual Questionnaire-IUGA-Revised (PISQ-IR).

Results: Sexual activity was recovered in 42.9% of non-sexually active (NSA) women 1 year postoperatively, mainly in women with higher preoperative POP-related subscale scores of the PISQ-IR, which indicated a negative preoperative sexuality by POP. Recovery of sexual activity was greater after LSC-Cx, albeit not significantly (2 years: 35.5% AVM vs. 45% LSC-Cx). Among sexually active (SA) women preoperatively remaining SA postoperatively, the difference in the mean PISQ-IR summary score significantly improved [mean baseline difference - 2 years; all: 0.3 (95% CI 0.1 to 0.5) p = 0.001; AVM 0.19 (95% CI -0.1 to -0.5) p > 0.05; LSC-Cx 0.37 (95% CI 0.1 to 0.7) p = 0.003]. Preoperative dyspareunia was significantly reduced after LSC-Cx (baseline: 24.6%, 2 years: 9.8%, p = 0.0448), but not after AVM (baseline: 20.7%, 2 years: 18.2%, p = 0.7385).

Conclusions: Most women reported improved sexual activity and function 2 years after LSC-Cx or AVM, mainly because of enhanced POP-related subscales in both NSA and SA women. Recovery of sexual activity and improved sexual function were greater after LSC-Cx compared to AVM, likely related to less postoperative dyspareunia.

Keywords: Anterior vaginal mesh; Laparoscopic sacrocolpopexy/cervicopexy; PISQ-IR; Pelvic organ prolapse; Sexual activity; Sexual function.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laparoscopy*
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse* / surgery
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Surgical Mesh
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vagina