Does having a hysterectomy affect your marital relationship?

It is normal for someone to have a lot of questions after having a hysterectomy and to worry about what their life will be like, including their sex life. Although everyone heals differently, a person may experience some common side effects after surgery that may initially affect sex. However, given time to heal, and many women find their enjoyment of sexual activity remains the same after a hysterectomy, while others say it improves. Read on to find out what to expect.

How long should you wait before having sex after a hysterectomy?

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), after a hysterectomy, a woman should refrain from putting anything in the vagina for about 6 weeks. This includes a penis, fingers, sex toys, tampons, and douches. It is important to understand that this recommendation is based on the average time it takes to heal, which is about 6 to 8 weeks. However, everyone heals at a different rate. Doctors recommend that women refrain from sexual activity after a hysterectomy until all surgery-related vaginal discharge has stopped and any wounds have healed.

There are no official guidelines on when it is safe to have an orgasm, for example, from manual masturbation with the fingers. But, it is vital to give the body time to heal, and an orgasm tenses the muscles in the pelvic region, potentially straining any healing wounds. There are no expectations about when a woman should feel like having sex after a hysterectomy. Some women may experience vaginal bleeding and pain for several weeks after surgery, and they may have little interest in sex. In addition to physical effects, a hysterectomy can have a significant emotional impact and affect how a woman feels about having sex.

A woman’s feelings about sex after a hysterectomy may vary depending on the reasons for surgery, her personal situation, and whether surgery has induced menopause. Experiences with the first period after a laparoscopy can vary dramatically. If your period is more painful, longer, or heavier than usual, don’t panic. Knowing your cycle length can be helpful for many reasons. For women who are trying to conceive, or for women who are trying to avoid pregnancy, understanding the rhythm of their menstruation can help.

Possible complications

woman awake in bed next to partner worrying about sex after hysterectomy. A loss of sex drive may occur after a hysterectomy. Although many women do not experience sexual problems after a hysterectomy, some do experience complications.

These may include:

  • Loss of sex drive:  A woman may experience a reduced libido if her ovaries are removed, as this will cause a lack of estrogen.
  • Change in sexual sensation: Some women report a reduction in sensation inside their vagina during sex. This does not have to negatively affect a woman’s ability to orgasm, as the clitoris and labia are still highly sensitive. However, it may mean changing positions and techniques to find what feels right after surgery.
  • Pelvic floor weakness: Doing pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, can strengthen the muscles after surgery, improving sex and reducing the risk of incontinence.
  • Vaginal dryness: Some women experience vaginal dryness after having a hysterectomy. This can often be managed with an over-the-counter lubricant or natural alternative, such as coconut oil.

It is common to wonder what effect, if any, a hysterectomy will have on a person’s sex life. In most cases, having a hysterectomy will not negatively impact sex in the long term.  Everyone heals differently and at a different pace. A woman should listen to her body and wait until she has recovered, both emotionally and physically, before engaging in sexual activity. Women who experience sexual problems after a hysterectomy, such as pain or a reduced sex drive, should talk to their doctor about possible solutions.

The good news is a woman’s sex life can be just as good or better after having a hysterectomy.