An observational study on the sexual, genital and fertility outcomes in bladder exstrophy and epispadias patients

J Pediatr Urol. 2023 Feb;19(1):36.e1-36.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpurol.2022.10.013. Epub 2022 Oct 13.


Introduction: Bladder exstrophy and epispadias complex (BEEC) is a spectrum of congenital malformations ranging from an isolated epispadias to a full exstrophy. It is an uncommon disease and little is known on how patients cope with its implications later in life.

Objective: The goal of this study is to assess the sexual, continence and fertility outcomes of BEEC patients, who had reconstructive bladder surgery during childhood. Considering the sensitive nature of these topics, they are not easily spoken about in the doctor's office. Our aim is to shed some light on possible points of improvement in follow-up.

Study design: 63 patients between 18 and 45 years old were sent an electronic questionnaire based on previous existing standardized questionnaires. They were asked about sexual and psychosexual wellbeing, urinary incontinence and fertility. Data from their medical files (medical history on previous surgeries). and questionnaire answers are linked through an anonymous subject number and put into an Excel file for descriptive representation.

Results: 22 men and 8 women filled in the questionnaire. All but 2 are sexually active. Reasons to avoid sexual activity are equally divided as BEEC-related and non-BEEC-related. Sexual satisfaction is lower in the male group due to problems with erection, ejaculation, condom usage and embarrassment about physical appearance. In females problems concerning pain and reaching orgasm are mentioned. 30% report depressive feelings. There is a clear correlation between number of reconstructive surgeries and sexual satisfaction. 90% of patients urinate via catheterization, mostly through a Mitrofanoff connection. This leads to complications such as foul odors, infection, embarrassment and sexual dysfunction. 8 out of 13 men conceived a child (with the use of their own sperm), 2 out of 4 women did.

Discussion: A strength of this study is the use of standardized questionnaires which allow comparison to a control patient group. Our study is one of the first to show how patients cope with the challenges of BEEC by the use of open questions. We see an overall high quality of life yet an important impact on mental health.

Conclusion: BEEC is associated with many challenges in the adult life of patients. A more holistic and interdisciplinary approach is needed to include sensitive topics in long term follow-up.

Keywords: Bladder exstrophy; Continence; Epispadias; Psychosexual wellbeing; Quality of life; Sexual outcome.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bladder Exstrophy* / complications
  • Child
  • Epispadias* / complications
  • Epispadias* / psychology
  • Epispadias* / surgery
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Genitalia
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Semen
  • Young Adult

Supplementary concepts

  • Bladder Exstrophy and Epispadias Complex