The Psychosexual Effects of Hysterectomy

Hysterectomy is as Isaac Newton once famously prescribed that ìEvery action has an equal and opposite reaction.î Similarly, when surgery tinkers with the human body with the goal of physical improvement, rarely is the physiological change viewed in terms of how it will alter the psychological or psychosexual. The impact hysterectomy surgery has on psychosexuality and the mental health of women is rarely discussed when the procedure is undertaken. Hysterectomy involves the surgical removal of the uterus which is the setting of fetal development during pregnancy. The most common form of hysterectomy is known as total hysterectomy which involves removal of the cervix, uterus, and the fallopian tubes. Today, hysterectomy remains commonly performed in many countries, with rates varying from 37% of US women over 60 to 3.8% of women in the Netherlands. According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, each year in America alone over 600,000 hysterectomies are performed. But, current trends reveal a contradictory message: While increasingly hysterectomies are being undergone for the purpose of quality of life rather than life-saving measures, there is an increasing public curiosity and anxiety concerning its psychosexual ramifications.

Promoting hysteroscopy

Promoting hysteroscopy

It is important to stress that hysterectomy can be necessitated by illnesses. Cancers in the uterus, cervix, or ovary may leave no other alternatives. Severe uterine bleeding from childbirth or infection may require it too. Sometimes, there are physiological issues that may not make hysterectomy necessary but still desirable, such as the presence of benign fibroid tumors. The issue, however, does concern its increasing popularity in illnesses that offer alternative remedies. “If  less invasive alternatives have a reasonable chance of solving a problem, then in most cases that would be preferable,” writes Dr. Indman, a renowned California-based gynecologist and author in an editorial Hysterectomy will ruin my sex life. “That is why I am so aggressive about promoting hysteroscopy, hysteroscopic procedures, and laparoscopic procedures only when they are medically appropriate.” Dr. Indman represents a large voice of the medical community in their stance towards hysterectomies: More detailed assessments need to be taken by doctor and patient to understand the severity of menstrual complaints and pelvic pain to establish the need for hysterectomy.



The reason for this concern is two fold: First, although most women do not have problems during or following the hysterectomy, there are several risks involved in the procedure, such as bladder injuries or heavy blood loss that requires blood transfusions. More importantly, however, is the concern regarding its possible mental consequences in women. Fears of resulting depression and anxieties are common. More common is the belief that with the removal of the uterus in hysterectomies ñ the epicenter of procreation between man and woman ñ so is removed the incentive and drive for sexuality. The great dread in patients deals with resulting psychosexual dysfunctions.

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Psychological and biological experiments have sought to inquire about the suspected correlation between collapsed sexual function and hysterectomy. So far, many studies have indicated that women reveal that they experience no change in the way they achieve orgasm or in their overall sexual drive. Although a popular medical complaint is that hysterectomy is being performed excessively and unnecessarily, women reveal that they had one performed because of previous irritations and pains. Now that these pains are gone, many report an increase in sex drive because of the absence of bodily pain.

Meanwhile, other researchers observed a correlation between the context and mentality going into the surgery with the psychosexual effect it had afterwards on women. For example, women who desired children but whose survival necessitated hysterectomy have generally a far harder time coping with the realization of their infertility. As a result, their psychosexual health suffers from resulting depression and shame which in turn breeds various psychosexual disorders, such as lack of sexual arousal. By contrast, women who underwent hysterectomy to remove an irritation that interfered with their mental and physical health were more likely to show no disturbance or negative psychosexual effect afterwards.

[ad#downcont]Experts also predict that the psychosexual effects of hysterectomy are dependent on the form of procedure you get. Some forms of hysterectomy remove the ovaries which are the key producer of estrogen and testosterone hormones in women. The reduction of these hormones which influence female libido will naturally result in stronger psychosexual dysfunctions, such as plummeting libido.

Alternative and less invasive therapies do exist for many of the non-essential hysterectomies, such as drug therapies or even pelvic exercises. However, in many cases, there have been no has been no evident of profound psychosexual effects in hysterectomy patients. Psychosexual counseling is inclusive of women who underwent the procedure, but that is uncommon.  The problem is that hysterectomy has become the go-to form of surgery instead of exploring all methods and options. At its core, hysterectomy and the psychosexual effects it has on women is dependent on what they make of it.

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