Feature Archive

Sex After Hysterectomy

The surgery might actually improve your sex life.

WebMD Feature

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.

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.