Sex after hysterectomy is for most women a great concern. Logically you will fear that removing one of your reproductive organs may change your sexual relationship with your partner.
Questions you often hear are:
- Will sex feel different, will it hurt?
- Do all women lose their sex drive?
- Will I still have any pleasure with sex?
- Can my vagina become too short?
Removal of the uterus will inevitably bring changes to a couple’s sex life. Often these changes are positive, especially when the hysterectomy ends years of pain and bleeding from fibroids.
Some women find sex more enjoyable as they can relax now there is no risk of pregnancy anymore.
But not for all, sometimes intercourse becomes painful which can put stress on a relationship.
Are you feeling nervous or worried about having intercourse after your hysterectomy? Here are a few important facts on a woman’s sexual well-being after hysterectomy surgery.
6 Tips for safe and enjoyable sex after hysterectomy
1. How long do you have to wait?
Having sex after hysterectomy is not recommended until 6 to 8 weeks after the surgery. The inner and outer wound needs time to heal. Note, even with a DaVinci hysterectomy there is an inner wound that needs to heal. This healing can differ from woman to woman, so wait till your doctor gives the OK. Having sex too soon can result in bleeding and opening of the wound.
2. Feeling less feminine
Some women experience a loss of femininity after their womb is removed. The loss of fertility is extra hard for young women who have not yet completed their family. Another reason a lot of women start feeling less feminine is because of their weight gain after surgery. Women with the ovaries removed produce notably fewer sex hormones (testosterone) which are essential for a healthy sex drive.
3. Changes in the pelvic area
A hysterectomy will cause certain changes in the pelvic area. The uterus will be gone and the vagina may be slightly shorter than before. This usually causes no sexual issues. The vagina is very flexible; it can stretch enough to let a baby through. Women should also be aware of the heightened risk and what they can do to prevent pelvic organ prolapse. When a bladder or part of the vagina bulges in the entrance of the vagina then this may cause problems with intercourse.
4. Sexual discomfort
One of the most common complaints causing sexual discomfort after a hysterectomy is vaginal dryness. This happens when a woman also loses her ovaries and the production of estrogen decreases. As a result, the vaginal wall will lose its stretchiness and there will be less blood flow in the area (vaginal atrophy). Lubricants, vaginal moisturizers, and topical estrogen are a few products that can make sex after hysterectomy enjoyable again.
5. Painful intercourse
When sex after hysterectomy is so painful that you want to avoid it at all cost, it’s time to talk to a doctor. We separate two types of pain, one at entering the vagina and the other at deep penetration. Pain at entering is often caused by lack of lubrication or an infection. For some women the fear of pain makes it impossible to relax, causing involuntary spasms of the vaginal wall (vaginism). In this case, a vaginal dilator can help you to gently lengthen the vagina and to relax the pelvic floor muscles.
6. Orgasm after hysterectomy
Finally, many women wonder if they can still have an orgasm. Will the feeling be the same as before the operation? Sometimes anxiety or depression is the reason women find it hard to get aroused or are unable to have an orgasm. Some women confess that their orgasms are not as intense as before which may have to do with the absence of pleasurable uterine contractions.
If you experience any kind of sexual dysfunction due to your surgery talk to your healthcare provider. Don’t let your marriage needlessly suffer from the side effects of a hysterectomy.
Do respect that your body needs to recover not only physically but also emotionally.
For most women, a hysterectomy will bring some changes to her sex life. Though most couples do adapt quickly and are able to enjoy sex after hysterectomy.
A very helpful book written by Lauren Streicher, MD is Sex Rx: Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever. She explains how women can deal with sexual problems after a hysterectomy.