Are you worried about sex after hysterectomy? Or concerned about how it will impact your overall health? Well you’re not alone. And you’ve got good reasons to be concerned!
After all, getting a hysterectomy means removing your uterus. In some cases, your ovaries or even your cervix may also be removed. Hysterectomies are among the 10 most common operations performed every year in the US. In fact, over 300,000 hysterectomies are performed every year for non-cancerous conditions. And one of those conditions is uterine fibroids.
A 2015 survey from the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology noted that 40% of women who’d had a hysterectomy received no other treatment options before surgery.
What’s worse? About 1 in 5 women who got one didn’t need a hysterectomy. And that figure only increases for black women. Because studies show that African American women are 2.4 times more likely to have a hysterectomy than white women. All of which is a problem, because hysterectomies can take a toll on women’s long-term health!
Sex After Hysterectomy
When you remove your uterus, you enter menopause. Of course, that takes an instant toll on your sex life. After all, menopause can lead to vaginal dryness, among other effects.
But that’s not the only way sex after hysterectomy is different. One often overlooked effect of hysterectomy? Much of a woman’s orgasm involves feeling contractions in her uterus and cervix. So, if you remove one or both of these sexual organs, your orgasm will likely be impacted. And, sadly, the changes don’t stop there.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease after Hysterectomy
In a study published in Menopause journal, researchers shared some scary news about hysterectomies. Doctors monitored 113,679 hysterectomy patients, aged 35-45, over 10 years for signs of heart disease. The results are eye-opening.
With both ovaries removed, women’s risk of heart attack rose dramatically. Women who had one or no ovaries removed had a lower risk of developing coronary artery disease or cancer. Sadly, 1.01% of women having both ovaries died during the study period.
The importance of estrogen
Ovaries play a big role in your body. They help balance hormones to maintain your bone and brain health. They also protect you from heart disease (coronary artery disease/heart attacks).
Estrogen, balanced by your ovaries, increases blood flow to your brain. It fights inflammation and maintains the pathways in your brain. In fact, the more we know about Alzheimer’s, the more we appreciate estrogen’s role in brain health.
But that’s not all. Estrogen promotes healthy bone; loss of estrogen puts you at risk for osteoporosis and bone fractures. That’s why more people break their hips as they age and estrogen levels drop.
Estrogen also influences your cholesterol levels. It increases HDL, the “good” cholesterol and decreases LDL. By relaxing blood vessels, it improves your blood flow and protects blood vessels from inflammation.
Of course, removing both ovaries prevents ovarian cancer. But you have to look carefully at the other risks involved. Women should consider their family history and lifestyle factors before giving up their ovaries. And don’t forget: ovarian cancer is not so common, and removing your ovaries ups your risk for other cancers.
Long Term Implications of a Hysterectomy
Before you agree to a hysterectomy and ovary removal, stop and think about the long-term implications. You really need to understand the valuable role your ovaries play in your heart, bone, and brain health when making your decision.