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Women who reported the poorest quality of sexual function prior to surgery saw the most dramatic improvements one year after surgery, on par with women who reported the highest quality of sexual function prior to surgery, Sarwer said.

An expert not involved with the study said that the initial findings make sense.

"This is another good study that shows bariatric surgery helps patients in a number of ways," said Dr. Jaime Ponce, president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.

"By losing weight, it allows you to balance your good sexual hormones that control the menstrual cycle," Ponce said. "It allows them to experience improved sexual function."

However, Ponce pointed out that a wider follow-up study with a larger population of patients needs to be conducted.

Sarwer said a second study focusing on men is being prepared for publication next year.

It's very likely that men will also show improvements in their sexuality after bariatric surgery, he said, but physical complications may preclude them from enjoying the same increases as women.

"It's going to be a potentially cloudier picture," Sarwer said. "We know that obesity and its related diseases can have an effect on erectile dysfunction, and long-term obesity may cause damage to the erectile tissue. It may be one of these cases where the spirit is willing, but the body is unable."

The study authors noted that the findings were to be presented Nov. 14, at Obesity Week in Atlanta.

Sarwer reported that he has been a paid consultant to manufacturers of products for nonsurgical weight-loss treatment and bariatric surgery.

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