If you're experiencing painful sex after a hysterectomy, help is on the way! Keep reading!
What is a Hysterectomy?A hysterectomy is the surgery to remove just the uterus (womb).
What does a Hysterectomy treat?It is a surgical procedure to treat diseases like fibroids, endometriosis, and cancers such as uterine and cervical cancers.
How does a Hysterectomy affect my sex life?If only the uterus is removed, it often does not affect sexual activity. You just need to refrain from sex for about six weeks after the surgery. Once the surgical wound heals, you can resume normal sexual activity as before. However, there are some exceptions:
50% of Hysterectomies include Bilateral OophorectomyFor about half of all hysterectomies in the United States, the ovaries are removed along with the uterus, especially when the procedure is a part of cancer treatment. This procedure is called bilateral oophorectomy.
Why Remove Ovaries?I think we can all agree that ovaries are pretty neat, so why would anyone remove them?
The main reason is cancer prevention:
Estrogen promotes cancers associated with female reproductive tissues:
- breast cancer
- ovarian cancer
- uterine cancer
- cervical cancer
So you may think that removing your ovaries is all sunshine and rainbows, however:
Hysterectomies can cause Female Sex DysfunctionThe tradeoff of removing ovaries is that you also lose the glands that produce sex hormones, like testosterone and estrogen.
Testosterone, the Libido HormoneTestosterone is a male hormone but it is also produced in lesser amounts in the female and is thought to promote the female sexual desire.
Estrogen, the Sex HormoneEstrogen maintains health of all female reproductive tissues, including vaginal tissue, keeping it thick, moist and flexible.
How much of your Testosterone and Estrogen is made by the Ovaries?The ovaries produce about half of testosterone and nearly all of estrogen for women.
What happens to your sex life after removing ovaries?When ovaries are removed after a total hysterectomy:
- estrogen is substantially reduced
- vaginal tissue becomes:
- more vulnerable to tear during intercourse
- libido and sexual desire is decreased
- arousal is altered because
- vaginal lubrication is reduced
- vaginal dilation is reduced
- inability to achieve orgasm
- dyspareunia (uncomfortable or painful sex)
Estrogen cannot be used by Hysterectomy PatientsSupplementing estrogen in theory can help you to find relief, but:
It is ACTUALLY a Catch-22 situation because estrogen can increase your risk for cancer. This is the very reason that your ovaries were removed in the first place!
It's a dilemma.
There is some good news, though:
You're not alone.
About half of all women with hysterectomies in the United States are suffering from various degrees of sexual dysfunction and they cannot use estrogen to find relief.
What about testosterone?Since estrogen cannot be used in these women who had a hysterectomy, can testosterone help treat their sexual dysfunction?
The answer is “Not really.”
Does Sexual Arousal start in the Brain?It is currently believed that in a healthy woman, the sexual arousal begins in the brain.
A romantic memory, image, scent, music, or fantasy may act as a trigger to prompt sexual arousal.
As a result, it was believed that female sexual dysfunction is a chain reaction occurs top-down from the brain to the lower parts of the body.
A lack of testosterone would result in decreased libido in the brain.
Subsequently, altered arousal and absent orgasm would follow.
Thus, the brain was thought to be the key and starting place for treating female sexual dysfunction.
Effects of Testosterone on Female LibidoBased on this belief, doctors have used testosterone to treat female sexual dysfunction, but the efficacy has been limited while side effects are significant.
As a result, the American Endocrine Society has recommended against using testosterone to treat women with sexual dysfunction.
There are many non-hormonal approaches that can help women with sexual dysfunction:
- vaginal lubricants
- vaginal moisturizers
- vaginal dilators
- laser treatment (MonaLisa Touch)
- simple nutritional supplement, such as vitamin E suppository
- advanced nutritional supplement such as NeuEve suppositories and cream
Analysis of Non-hormonal ChoicesLubricants, moisturizers and vitamin E suppositories can provide temporary relief for women with early stage vaginal atrophy.
However, these products cannot stop or reverse vaginal atrophy.
Once the vaginal atrophy progresses to late stage these products become useless.
Dilators and laser treatment can help strengthen the vaginal tissue by providing physical stimulation, but these methods may require more work or carry a higher price.
NeuEve - The Best ChoiceA desirable non-hormonal option is NeuEve’s advanced nutritional supplement.
It reverses vaginal atrophy by providing a group of nutrients to the vaginal tissue like calcium and vitamin D for bones.
To date, more than 50,000 women, including many with hysterectomy, have used this method safely and successfully for relief of vaginal atrophy.
The oldest woman who has regained sexual ability with NeuEve is 83 years old.