The article Total Hysterectomy Can Kill The Joy Of Sex is a bit dry and academic, but it still made for a good read. Apparently, removal of the cervix after a hysterectomy can inhibit the sexual experience for women. Sometimes doctors remove a healthy cervix during hysterectomy in the event that the organ may become cancerous in the future. I don’t agree with surgically removing perfectly healthy organs because they might become cancerous sometime in the future.
I didn’t know that in some hysterectomies, the ones where the cervix is removed, the top of the vagina is rolled down like a toothpaste tube and then sealed. Scar tissue will eventually grow in that area, which keeps it sealed. The problem with this is that some women who have had shortened vaginas spoke about painful intercourse.
There are other very interesting points made in the article. I highly recommend my readers take a look at it.
The article The Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Functioning, which appeared in the Annual Report On Sex Research, described the physiology of orgasm in women:
The uterus and cervix play a role in the physiology of orgasm. Orgasm appears to be a neurological genital reflex. A biphasic motor response results first in contractions of the smooth muscles of the fallopian tubes, uterus, and paraurethral glands of Skene. The second phase consists of contractions of the striated muscles located within the pelvic floor, perineum, and anal sphincter. The sensation of orgasm is probably caused by the sensory stimuli from the contractions of the internal genitalia (i.e., uterus, cervix, vagina) that reach the brain. The conscious recognition of these sensory impulses is believed to be the experience of orgasm (Hasson, 1993; Segraves & Segraves, 1993). As a consequence, it is conceivable that surgical removal of the uterus can affect orgasm.
One possible reason for a woman’s difficulty with sex after hysterectomy could be because of “surgical damage to the pelvic autonomic nerves during total hysterectomy.” This damage “partially disrupts the nerve supply to the blood vessels of the vaginal wall, which is responsible for the neural control of the lubrication response.” Some women have experienced a lack of lubrication after a hysterectomy. Surgical damage to the pelvic autonomic nerves may be the reason for that problem.
In addition, changes in hormone levels may affect a woman’s sex drive. According to The Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Functioning,
“physiological ovarian failure that takes place in postmenopausal women results in marked decreases of estrogen and androgen levels. The physiological decrease in estrogen levels is thought to be the cause of sexual dysfunctions in women, such as reduced vaginal lubrication and dyspareunia [painful intercourse] (McCoy, 1994).”
“many women fear depression or other emotional changes following hysterectomy, but research shows no increase in depression occurs after hysterectomy. Some women are afraid they will lose their desire for sex, this too is untrue and your sex life should remain as pleasurable, if not more pleasurable once you are free of the cause of your hysterectomy.”
Regarding a woman’s loss of sex drive after a hysterectomy,
“data supported by extensive research indicates that neither aging nor hysterectomy affect sexual desire negatively. Despite the physical changes and problems that aging or a hysterectomy may bring about, most studies show that people continue to have satisfying sexual experiences throughout their life. Research results indicate that sexual desire before and after either menopause or hysterectomy is likely to remain unchanged and may even be enhanced.”
Women’s Health also pointed out that “removal of your ovaries may cause a decrease in sexual desire which can improve with the use of estrogen.” Your gynecologist may prescribe an estrogen cream or you may purchase one over the counter if dryness is a problem. Don’t use petroleum jelly. You risk vaginal infection, and petroleum jelly can damage condoms and diaphragms.
The Effect Of Hysterectomy On Sexual Functioning pointed out other factors that may affect a woman’s sex drive and sexual experiences. The article stated
“sexual functioning, or the report of sexual problems, is associated with age, race, mental health problems, relationship problems, and various socioeconomic conditions (Laumann, Paik, & Rosen, 1999). The quality of a woman’s sexuality before and after hysterectomy is likely to be influenced by many of these factors. Psychosocial factors that contribute positively to sexual function include a healthy relationship with a partner, good general health of both partners, freedom from severe life stresses, and absence of financial worry. If one or more of these positive factors is negatively affected, it might disrupt sexual functioning.”
Women need not fear that they will lose their sexual desire after hysterectomy. They need not worry that a hysterectomy will negatively impact their sexual experiences. While some women have experienced difficulties after having a hysterectomy, many women go on to live healthy, enjoyable sex lives after the procedure.