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Effects of Vaginal Prolapse Surgery on Sexuality in Women and Men; Results from a RCT on Repair With and Without Mesh


Astrid Vollebregt, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Spaarne Hospital Hoofddorp, Spaarnepoort 1, 2134 TM Hoofddorp, The Netherlands. Tel: (31) 238907590; Fax: (31) 238907541; E-mail:


Introduction.  In pelvic organ prolapse (POP) repair, the use of synthetic mesh is not only increasing but also a subject of discussion. The focus shifts from anatomical toward functional outcome, with sexual function being an important parameter. One of the concerns with mesh usage in POP surgery is the possible negative effect on sexual function.

Aim.  To compare and assess sexual function in women and men after primary cystocele repair with or without trocar-guided transobturator mesh.

Methods.  One hundred twenty-five women with a symptomatic cystocele stage ≥ II were included in this multicenter randomized controlled trial and assessed at baseline and 6-month follow-up.

Main Outcome Measures.  Female sexual function was measured by the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI) and male sexual function by the Male Sexual Health Questionnaire. A subgroup analysis of women with a participating partner was performed.

Results.  In the mesh group, 54/59 women vs. 53/62 in the anterior colporrhaphy group participated. In men, 29 vs. 30 participated. After surgery, FSFI scores were comparable for both treatment groups. However, within group analysis showed significant improvement on the domains pain (effect size = 0.5), lubrication (effect size = 0.4), and overall satisfaction (effect size = 0.5) in the colporrhaphy group. This improvement was not observed in the mesh group. A subgroup of women with a participating partner reported significantly higher baseline domain scores as compared with other women and did not report a significant improvement of sexual functioning irrespective of treatment allocation. Worsening of baseline sexual function was reported by 43% of women in the mesh group compared with 18% in anterior colporrhaphy group (P = 0.05). Male sexual functioning did not change in either group.

Conclusions.  Women after an anterior colporrhaphy report a significant and clinically relevant improvement of their sexual functioning, whereas women after a mesh procedure did not. Vollebregt A, Fischer K, Gietelink D, and van der Vaart CH. Effects of vaginal prolapse surgery on sexuality in women and men; results from a RCT on repair with and without mesh. J Sex Med 12;9:1200–1211.