Do breast implants boost women's sex lives?

October 9, 2013 by Dennis Thompson, Healthday Reporter
Do breast implants boost women's sex lives?
Small study suggests they might, but critic says other factors may be at work.

(HealthDay)—Women who got breast implants said the surgery spiced up their sex lives, a small, preliminary study found.

The Brazilian researchers found that women experienced a significant boost to their arousal and following the procedure. However, they also noted that women who experienced stretch marks as a result of their did not experience any improvement in their sex lives.

Experts sharply disagreed on the sexual and psychological benefits of breast implants.

"I think that the female breast is a very important part of a woman's body, in terms of how a woman feels about herself in public, how her clothes fit and how she feels about herself sexually," said Dr. David Reath, chair of the public education committee of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). "It's very common for a woman post-surgery to say she feels more confident, that her outward body now fits her inward persona."

However, there could be other reasons behind the women's reports of enhanced sex lives, said Tomi-Ann Roberts, a distinguished professor of psychology at Colorado College and a member of the American Psychological Association's task force on the sexualization of girls.

"When we have exerted a great effort, spent a great deal of money and effort and time on something, we tend to justify that effort," Roberts said. "Our good feeling is increased because of the effort, not the thing itself."

The study involved 45 women who planned to undergo breast implant surgery.

Researcher Dr. Paulo Guimaraes and colleagues asked the women to fill out a questionnaire before the surgery that assessed their sexual desire, arousal and sexual satisfaction. Patients were then asked to retake the questionnaire at two, four and 18 months after surgery.

The 36 women who did not develop postsurgical stretch marks said they had experienced improved levels of arousal and were more satisfied with their sex lives, researchers said. They reported this improvement at both four and 18 months following surgery.

"They found that in the areas of both sexual satisfaction and sexual arousal, there were significantly increased feelings," Reath said. "These aspects of the sexual experience were increased for these women."

Nine women with stretch marks following their plastic surgery did not report any improvement. Stretch marks can occur if the implant is significantly larger than the original breast was, according to the ASPS.

The findings are to be presented this week at the ASPS annual meeting in San Diego. The data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Reath said he wasn't surprised by the findings.

"When I see patients and follow up, a lot of them will say 'My husband and I or my boyfriend and I are having a lot of fun.' Why not? It's an important part of life," he said.

Roberts also was not surprised, but for different reasons.

"Here are 45 women who spent a great deal of time and money and effort augmenting their breasts because the media has clearly convinced them their breasts are inadequate, so we shouldn't be surprised they are pleased with the breast augmentation," she said.

"We further shouldn't be surprised that they are pleased in the arena of their sexuality," Roberts continued. "Feminine heterosexuality is very much about our sense of whether or not we are pleasing our partner, and here we have 45 who have spent a great deal of money to that purpose. If these breasts are now pleasing to their male partners, then they are likely to feel more sexually attractive."

She said the study might have been more interesting had it also included some more practical questions related to their new breasts—for example, related to their ability to breast-feed or their comfort while jogging.

"There are a lot of other things breasts are a part of. This is an indication that in our Victoria's Secret culture, breasts are for men. They are for men's pleasure," she said.

Explore further: Breast augmentation patients report high satisfaction rates, says study

More information: For more about breast implants, visit the target="_new">U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Abstract (subscription or payment may be required)
More Information

Related Stories

Breast augmentation patients report high satisfaction rates, says study

May 1, 2013
Ninety-eight percent of women undergoing breast augmentation surgery say the results met or exceeded their expectations, according to a prospective outcome study published in the May issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, ...

Breast reduction surgery found to improve physical, mental well-being

July 30, 2013
Breast reduction surgery produces measurable improvements in several important areas of health and quality of life, reports a study in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of ...

Study shows men as likely as women to distinguish between desire and arousal

July 23, 2013
The theory is that men and women are completely different in the way that they experience arousal and express desire. But the first large-scale study trying to tease apart what goes on in the minds and bodies of men and women ...

Young breast cancer patients often overestimate benefit of having healthy breast removed

September 16, 2013
Young women with breast cancer often overestimate the odds that cancer will occur in their other, healthy breast, and decide to have the healthy breast surgically removed, a survey conducted by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute ...

Before deciding on breast implants, consider FDA precautions

February 27, 2013
(HealthDay)—If you're thinking about getting breast implants, there are some things you need to know before you make your decision, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.