Hip Implant Failures Affect Sex Life

One of the primary reasons for hip replacement is to allow patients to restore the quality of life they had before their hips became a problem. The ability to regain lost mobility and go back to work and exercise are at the top of patients’ list of reasons why they had hip-replacement surgery.
But there is one important quality of life issue that’s almost never mentioned when considering a hip-replacement . . . sex.
In a recent article in the New York Times, (“Surprise Path to Better Sex: Hip Surgery,” April 8, 2013), Tara Parker-Pope writes of how many patients had given up sexual activities because of pain and loss of motion in their joints. But after joint replacement, pain was greatly decreased and motion improved. Most patients reported being able to enjoy pain-free sex again.
In the past decade, the number of hip-replacement surgeries has risen by 85 percent. In 2010 alone, there were over 300,000 hip-replacement surgeries performed. In active middle-age adults, 45-65, the number of hip-replacement surgeries tripled, accounting for 128,000 of that total. In terms of quality of life, a healthy sex life is important, especially in this demographic.
“It’s certainly a topic that is on everyone’s mind, but it’s not a topic that is always spoken about openly,” says Dr. Charles Cornell, clinical director of orthopedic surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. Many patients are still hesitant to talk about how joint pain has affected their sex lives.
But it’s beginning to change. Dr. Claudette Lajam, an orthopedic surgeon at New York University Langone Medical Center, said that so many patients have questions about intimacy after joint replacement that she added a page to her Web site devoted to sex. “That page gets the most hits of any page on my Web site,” Lajam says.
Another sign the issue of sex and joint replacement is growing in the public consciousness is when celebrities openly discuss the problem. In a recent interview, the actress and fitness guru Jane Fonda spoke openly of what her hip-replacement meant, “…I’m happier, the sex is better and I understand life better. I don’t want to be young again.”
Along with improving sex lives, hip-replacements can also help improve relationships. When a member of a partnership becomes disabled, it challenges that partnership. The early failure of a hip implant causes significant suffering on the part of both partners in an intimate relationship.
The lawsuits that our firm is filing against hip implant manufacturers DePuy, Stryker, Zimmer, Biomet, Wright Medical and Smith & Nephew all include consortium claims for spouses for the suffering sustained by them and the damage to the sex life of both partners.
A legal consortium claim is much more than just loss of sexual activity it includes all the types of suffering and changes in lifestyle of both partners as a result of a hip implant recall and surgery to replace the defective hip implant. Consortium compensation can include lost companionship, anguish and worry for their partner and for their relationship.
At a jury trial in most states the jury is charged with coming up with a separate figure to compensate the non-physically injured partner for their losses in this category. The recent New York Times article and other public discussion about the sex issue should help jurors hearing lawsuits involving hip implants have a better understanding of what these implant patients and their partners have been going through. This in turn may help increase jury verdict wards for loss of consortium claims in hip implant lawsuits.