Elizabeth Rattray knew she needed one after only a few years of marriage hysterectomy (surgery to remove the uterus) to relieve severe pain uterine fibroids“I was really frustrated because I kept thinking, ‘This is going to be a nightmare,'” said Rattray, a licensed health insurance broker in Cleveland.
Rattray recalled that fibroids had enlarged her uterus to “the size of a 5-month pregnancy.” She became concerned about the health implications of losing a uterus, infertility and how the surgery might affect sex with her new husband. The couple was just in their early 30s.
Rattray did her research and sought various medical opinions. A doctor recommended surgery to remove her ovaries and uterus, she said. Ratley recalled that nothing required her ovaries to come out.
On the recommendation of a trusted friend, Ratley and her husband ended up traveling from Cleveland to Atlanta for a laparoscopic hysterectomy. The surgeon she chose agreed that she could keep the ovaries, so she complied. Surgery and recovery went well. Rattray says her sex life is better than ever. “Everything is fine, everything is fine,” she said.
how long to wait
Sex after a hysterectomy is a major concern for many women considering the procedure, but it doesn’t have to be, says Maureen Whelihan, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist in Palm Beach County, Florida.
“You can have sex any time after a hysterectomy — sexual stimulation, orgasm, manual stimulation,” says Whelihan. You will need to wait a while before having penetrative vaginal sex. “You may have to wait about 4 weeks for the top of your vagina to heal,” says Whelihan. “If it’s a very complicated procedure, maybe the doctor will ask you to wait six weeks.”
“As a reminder,” she adds, “there are many other ways of sexual gratification and release that don’t require penetration.”
After the healing period, women don’t feel any pain during intercourse after a hysterectomy, unless it’s at the surgical site, or in your sexual position if it’s putting pressure near the surgical incision in the abdomen, Whelihan said , the partner is on top.
Get your questions answered
As with everything else in your healthcare, it’s best to understand your options, pros and cons, and your preferences.
Get a second and third opinion when necessary, says Francesca M. Rogers, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Pavilion Women’s Care Center in Burbank, Calif.
This means asking key questions, such as whether your ovaries really need to be removed. Whelihan noted that this was a common practice in the past. But it’s not always needed. So if recommended, make sure you know why.
Removing your uterus will not affect your desires. However, it can happen if you have your ovaries and uterus removed.
“Sexual dysfunction is caused by the loss of ovaries,” Whelihan said. The problem is actually the loss of hormones produced by the ovaries. “The problem wasn’t the hysterectomy,” Whelihan said.
If you do need to have your ovaries removed along with your uterus, hormone replacement therapy It can safely replace a portion of the lost hormone and can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems associated with estrogen loss, Whelihan said. Most premenopausal women experience no change in libido if HRT is started at the time of surgery.
Many things can affect a woman’s libido, including stress, relationship problems, and other health conditions.
Remember, if sex isn’t meeting your expectations, it’s probably not a physical problem. Whelihan screens her patients to check their mood. She estimates that about a third of her patients with low libido suffer from “underlying anxiety or depression that is not properly managed.” Addressing these other conditions may help your libido.