In the past, a total hysterectomy was a woman’s only choice. Today, it’s rarely performed unless there’s no other option. The result is that most women don’t have time to consider how a total hysterectomy will affect their sex lives.
And even if they do, the life or death situation that forces them to get the hysterectomy probably trumps any possible adverse effects on their sex life.
On the other hand, if you’re facing a total hysterectomy or recovering from one, this journey doesn’t have to be frightening or lonely. Hysterectomies are no longer something that women have to hide or be afraid to talk about.
There’s no shame in having a total hysterectomy, and your sex life doesn’t have to suffer. Most women who’ve had total hysterectomies have reported improved or unchanged sexual function after recovery from surgery. This is good news.
Guidelines for Sex After a Total Hysterectomy
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women who’ve had a hysterectomy should refrain from inserting anything in their vagina for 6-8 weeks. This includes a penis, fingers, sex toys, tampons, and douches.
You may experience some vaginal bleeding or pain for several weeks after surgery. You may also feel differently about yourself or sex.
If you’re struggling emotionally after a total hysterectomy:
- Take time to grieve if you need to.
- Let go of any shame that you may feel around getting a hysterectomy.
- Know that a hysterectomy is not your fault.
- Understand that you’re not less of a woman because your uterus and ovaries are no longer there.
- Seek out a trusted friend or counselor if you need support.
Here’s the Good News!
A hysterectomy can cause specific changes in your pelvic area, but it usually does not affect the ability to enjoy sex. In most cases, women can resume healthy, fulfilling sex lives after healing from a hysterectomy. This usually takes 4-6 weeks.
More Good News!
For most women, having a total hysterectomy – both the uterus and cervix removed – does not affect the sensation in the vagina or the ability to orgasm. Sometimes, the vagina is slightly shorter after surgery, but this should not cause problems with sexual activity.
And Even More Good News!
If you have had sufficient time to heal, bleeding or pain during intercourse should not occur. If bleeding or pain does occur, talk with your doctor.
Expect Your Life to Change After Total Hysterectomy
But not for the worse!
During a total hysterectomy, your ovaries are removed, which means that you are no longer producing estrogen or progesterone. The symptoms that you may experience are similar to those of menopause because your body is going through the same type of hormone deprivation in both scenarios. If you haven’t been through menopause yet, then you may feel overwhelmed if menopause symptoms strike.
Low to no estrogen levels can cause a whole host of symptoms, including
- hot flashes
- night sweats
- weight gain
- low libido
- urinary accidents
- mood swings
- vaginal dryness
- thinning of vaginal tissue
- and more
You can see why these symptoms might affect your sex life, particularly the changes to your vagina and sexual desire. Both thinning vaginal tissue and vaginal dryness can make sex painful.
A lowered sex drive not only affects your desire to initiate or have sex but also ties into low energy levels, which keep you dragging along.
That doesn’t mean that your sex life is over! Most menopausal and post-hysterectomy symptoms can be addressed.
Vaginal dryness can really rub you the wrong way. (Sorry, this is a heavy topic, and we thought a little humor was appropriate.) In all seriousness, vaginal dryness can ruin sex. Who wants to have uncomfortable, painful sex? If this is the only symptom you’re experiencing, all you need to do is experiment with various lubricants until you find one that works for you.
Low libido could stem from a variety of causes. Libido is complex. It’s different for everyone. Sometimes all it takes is to change the narrative around what it means to have a hysterectomy and how it affects your self-worth.
If the underlying cause has to do with a longstanding psychological block or emotional issue that has been uprooted by your experience with having a hysterectomy, counseling is an option, as are visits with a sex therapist.
Some simple suggestions that you can try to fire up your sex drive are
Although rare, there are occasions when a total hysterectomy can change your pelvic and vaginal areas. If these changes cause sexual dysfunction, there are treatments that will improve the situation.
For example, you could try pelvic physical therapy, laser vaginal rejuvenation, or o-shots to revive the tissues and muscles in your vagina and pelvic floor.
If you’ve had a total hysterectomy, you’re likely to suffer the symptoms of a hormone imbalance because it’s triggered menopause. Hormone imbalances are easily detected and treatable using Bio-Identical Hormone Replacement Therapy (BHRT). BHRT can solve most, if not all, of the worst of your symptoms if they stem from a hormone imbalance.
The Total Plan
At Nava Health, we’ve found that the best way to address any sexual issues that come up after a total hysterectomy is to apply a whole health plan combined with hormone replacement therapy.
We’re Here to Help!
Don’t underestimate the power of your sex life on your overall wellbeing. Your sexual health is just one of many facets of your whole health wellness. It’s normal to have a lot of questions after having any form of hysterectomy and to worry about what your life will be like, including your sex life.
If you have more questions, or are struggling with changes to your sex life after a hysterectomy, contact us for a consultation. We take a compassionate, holistic approach to healthcare. We’ll look at your situation as unique, consider you as a whole person, and work with you to find a course of treatment that will juice your sex life back up!