For some women, sexual satisfaction can improve after a hysterectomy.
Feb. 21, 2000 (San Francisco) -- Janet Harris knew she should have a
hysterectomy. Her doctors told her. Her mother told her. Her friends told her.
But she just couldn't do it.
''I heard the stories about how your sex life is ruined and you go right
into menopause," says Harris, 39, of Baltimore. She put off the surgery for
years until the symptoms from her uterine fibroids got so bad -- aching legs,
constant cramps, menstrual periods lasting 15 or 20 days a month -- that she
had the operation.
By Keith Ablow, M.D.
Rekindling Passion For The Husband You Still Love
People sometimes tell me they know a couple married 20 years whose sex life
is still as good as it ever was. Here's what I tell them in return: "There
are only three possibilities. One: This couple is lying. Two: They are telling
the truth, because they didn't have good sex to begin with. Or three: Sex is
all they really have together. They never connected emotionally."
I've drawn that conclusion by listening...
The big surprise? Her sex life hasn't been this good in years.
New Study Refutes Older Studies
The reluctance of women to undergo hysterectomy because of worries about a
decrease in their sexual satisfaction isn't unfounded. Studies published in the
British Medical Journal and Obstetrics and Gynecology have
reported that between 13 and 37% of women report deterioration of their sex
lives after hysterectomy.
However a recent study has found that sexual functioning improved overall
after hysterectomy. For two years, researchers from the University of Maryland
tracked sexual function in women at regular intervals after hysterectomy.
"We saw a dramatic reduction in pain during sex," says Julia Rhodes,
M.S., co-author of the study, which was published in the Journal of the
American Medical Association (JAMA) on November 24, 1999.
Two years after the surgery, 76.7% of women were having sexual relations,
compared to 70.5% of women before surgery. The number who reported pain during
sex plunged from 18.6 to 3.6%. Inability to attain orgasm fell from 7.6 to
4.9%. And low libido dropped from 10.4 to 6.2%. In all, 1,101 women between the
ages of 35 to 49 completed the study; 90% had not yet entered menopause.
According to the latest hysterectomy data from the federal Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), covering the years 1980 to 1993, women
most likely to have a hysterectomy are between the ages 40 and 44, while 36%
are between the ages of 25 and 39.