As we age, a variety of issues can affect the major joints in the body, resulting in pain, loss of mobility and reduced quality of life. Millions of people worldwide have undergone a total joint replacement, a surgery that can effectively restore use and motion to damaged hip or knee joints.
In this brief article, we will take a look at exactly what the medical procedures known as hip and knee replacements entail, the type of conditions that could be eliminated or alleviated after undergoing such procedures and compelling new research that indicates hip and knee replacements improve sexual function in persons who have undergone them.
What Occurs During a Hip Or Knee Replacement?
Individuals who go through a hip or knee replacement, sometimes also referred to as total joint replacement, have parts of a damaged hip or knee joint removed and replaced with an artificial substitute joint. The substitute structure is often comprised of either metal, plastic or ceramic and is medically referred to as a prosthesis.
Who Receives Joint Replacements?
More than seven million Americans have undergone a total joint replacement of some type, with the numbers of people getting knee and hip replacements rising each year. The incidence of hip and knee replacement surgery is on the rise in Europe as well. In many instances, the procedure is performed on someone of advanced age who has sustained chronic joint damage stemming from a long-standing injury or medical condition resulting in destruction of the joint in question. That said, the incidents of younger persons undergoing such surgical intervention is also expected to increase over time.
Joint replacements are performed as potential cure or treatment for a variety of issues affecting these important bodily structures that enable the bones and muscles to function properly, including joint deformities and severe acute or chronic injuries. Joints might also be weakened by genetic flaws precipitating joint malformations and obesity.
However, arguably the most prominent elicitor of joint problems is arthritis. This ailment causes inflammation of affected joints and elicits physical symptoms like pain, swelling and redness over impacted regions. As arthritis progresses or increases in severity, sufferers might also experience mobility issues. Arthritis sufferers with advanced joint damage might experience excessive pain and significant difficulty performing everyday activities such as walking and climbing stairs.
Joint replacements are typically performed only as a last resort on people whose physical therapy regiments or medication treatment protocols have proven ineffective.
The Impact of Arthritis on Your Sex Life
Performance problems are not always related to a psychological issue or malfunctioning sexual organ. Persons with severe knee or hip problems are often either in too much pain or are experiencing a lack of mobility that inhibits their ability to perform the movements necessary to engage in sexual intercourse.
The movement required to engage in intercourse may also induce significant pain in those afflicted with arthritis. Increased pain might cause those who experience the unpleasant sensation to avoid activities -- such as sex -- that bring such feelings forth.
People with knee and hip damage might eventually grow to resist sex or suffer from low libido, losing the desire to participate in physically intimate acts.
Persons with arthritis or serious hip or joint pain might experience the psychological manifestation of diminished body image related to the feeling of disability and being sexually inadequate.
How Sexual Function Improves After Hip or Knee Replacement
A 2013 study conducted and presented by the American Academy Of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) concluded that roughly 90 percent of the subjects who participated in the organization's examination reported a better and more fulfilling sex life following total joint replacement surgery. The most common improvements experienced were increased sex drive, in addition to the ability to perform sexually for an extended duration and engage in intercourse on a more frequent basis.
Of the 147 persons who participated in the study, only 16 percent claimed any adverse sexual manifestations. However, issues were mainly related to a replacement recipient's fear that the physicality of intercourse might damage or shift the implant.
Steps Patients Can Employ to Allay Any Fears
Orthopedic surgeons suggest that patients who are concerned about any sexual side effects can employ certain safeguards after they undergo a knee or hip replacement procedure. These precautions include maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding excessive physical activity to soon after the surgical intervention is performed (including intercourse).
During sexual activity, there are additional safeguards total joint replacement recipient's can apply to potentially avoid problems with their synthetic joints. Such activities include not placing your partner and said individual's weight on the impacted hip or knee, avoid kneeling on the affected knee during intercourse and attempting not to place direct pressure or excessive weight on the replaced joint.
It is also important to mention that every patient might present a different set of circumstances and specific variables such as the joint replacement recipient's age, general health and body condition might impact how fit their new joint will be to handle the rigors of sex. Therefore, medical professionals opine that individuals who have had a new hip or knee joint inserted discuss such matters with their surgeons and primary care doctors. A patient's physicians could provide a better idea of what a patient might expect following surgery and provide a time frame depicting when the recipient can return to normal sexual activity.