SEXUAL ACTIVITY AFTER HYSTERECTOMY
It is commonly thought that after hysterectomy may result in sexual difficulties. There is little, if any, medical evidence to support this. There are no mechanical or psychological reasons why hysterectomy should disrupt sexual response. In fact there may be even a significant improvement in sexual activity following hysterectomy both in terms of enjoyment and frequency of intercourse. For many women, the fear of pregnancy is gone, resulting in a new lease of life while others who have had prolonged heavy bleeding are freed from this debilitation and may feel rejuvenated following surgery.
Problems that may be experienced following hysterectomy are:
- Loss of libido (sexual drive)
- Vaginal dryness
- Painful intercourse
Some or all of these may occur particularly if the ovaries are removed.
Helpful suggestions to overcome these problems:
- Initially you may feel that your sexual responses change but this is rarely the case. Often your mind takes longer to be ready for sex than your body after surgery.
- At first, both you and your partner may be anxious on resumption of sexual intercourse, therefore the use of a water based lubricant (e.g. KY gel) may help to overcome his apparent & temporary vaginal dryness.
- Vaginal dryness may also be due to hormone deficiency. If the ovaries are removed hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will be of benefit in these cases. At your convenience you can discuss this with your doctor.
- Deep penetration may cause discomfort during intercourse in the early months after surgery. This can be overcome by (a) altering positions or (b) altering the angle of penetration.
- Allow adequate time for the stitches in the vagina to heal, usually about six weeks.
Initially the vagina may seem somewhat shortened but return to sexual intercourse will gradually stretch the vaginal tissues. This may be more noticeable following a vaginal hysterectomy when a repair involving the front and back walls of the vagina was also performed.
Sexual difficulties with some women may be caused by psychological change:
Hysterectomy results in irreversible sterility. This may be a problem for women whose fertility is an important part of their sexual identity. They may need to have their confidence restored in their sexuality. Some women are concerned that they may lose their femininity after the operation. There is no basis for this. Some partners /spouses may react negatively to the operation. They may fear that their partner is altered by the surgery, or physically weakened, neither of which are true.
In general hysterectomy should have no adverse effects on your sexuality, provided you are fully informed of the effect of surgery and psychologically prepared for the results. On the contrary hysterectomy has marked beneficial effects on health and health symptoms, often leading to enhancement of women’s sexual lives. It is important for both you and your partner to get appropriate information preoperatively and to eliminate any myths and misconceptions about the surgery and its effects. Make sure to talk to your doctor.