Hysterectomy Risks – Has a Hysterectomy Ruined Intimacy for You?

January 22, 2013 · 24 comments

hysterectomy risks

Hysterectomy risks you may not be aware of…

Obviously doctors explain hysterectomy risks to patients before they undergo the surgery, but recently I’ve heard from many women who say that it ruined intimacy with their spouse, and I doubt that’s on the list of possible hysterectomy complications.

But some say it has helped their marriage in that area

So I asked women to write and let me know their experience, so you’ll be better informed should you have to make such a big decision in the future.

First you’ll read the stories from those who wouldn’t go through with having a hysterectomy again, or at least wish they’d known more before having such a major surgery.  (And yes, I realize that for many of you with cancer or some other serious health issue, you may not have a choice in the matter.)  Next you’ll hear from those who would definitely do it again.  For obvious reasons names won’t be shared, and as you can guess, you won’t want your kids to read this post.

By the way, thank you all who wrote, and please understand if I didn’t include your story or if I had to edit some out – there were so many submissions I couldn’t publish them all.  (You can read more Facebook comments here, though.)  I’d say that of all the stories I read, it’s about half and half, as far as how many regret it vs. how many would do it again…

Think twice before getting a hysterectomy!

The first story is from a commenter at my other post on this topic, Hang on to your Uterus, which is what prompted today’s discussion.  (You may want to read all of the comments there for more information if you’re facing this decision.)

  • I urge all women who have been recommended a hysterectomy to investigate and consider all options before being mutilated. I had a hysterectomy, removal of my uterus and cervix, nineteen years ago. Before the surgery I had an active and good sex life. At that time, my “then” husband and I had enjoyed sexual intercourse at least five times a week for twenty-one years. From the time of the surgery in 1992 to 2011, the year our divorced was finalized, we didn’t have sex five times. My sex life, marriage, self esteem, and self confidence were all destroyed after the hysterectomy.  After my six-week checkup, I thought our sex life would resume. Instead, my husband and I had sex, and he got up and looked at me in a way he had never looked at me before. I was hurt and embarrassed to see the look on his face as he got up from the bed. It was as if I was a great disappointment. I will never forget that day and that look. We never talked about it from 1992 to 2011. That surgery messed up my life. I now feel less than the woman I had grown to be. I was mutilated at the age of forty-two and am now sixty-one and still deeply regret that I didn’t explore other alternatives.  (A note from Kelly:  I find it so sad that they never talked about this at all or tried to work through it!)
  • I am old now and widowed so it no longer matters, but I remember how bitterly disappointed I was after my hysterectomy. I don’t think my OB-GYN consciously lied to me because there are plenty of women so afraid of pregnancy that the removal of the uterus is wonderful for them and since their fear of pregnancy had kept them from ever enjoying sex, they truly did not know they were missing anything.  But I had been a very passionate woman with deep satisfying orgasms and when my doctor assured me that I would have just as good, maybe even better sex, I believed him. I was in my early forties and still did not know how ignorant most MDs are. It was too late when I discovered my very (to me) significant loss.
  • Kelly, I did not end up getting a hysterectomy and am actually “cured” of the female troubles without medical intervention.  I had bleeding fibroids that were really messing with my plan!  My family history suggests that by 45 I would have a hysterectomy just to be done with the whole mess. I decided to take action instead and not wait for it to become unbearable. Besides, it was at that time (10 years ago) that I read that doctors often cut the nerves to the female region when they do tubals and hysterectomies ect. Advancements in science may make this moot now but I am not taking the chance if I don’t have to.  I am still in early menopause which is normal for my family history. I am 41. However, a naturopath is working with me and we are successfully treating the symptoms as they come and go. When I turned 30 I decided to gain control of my sexual health. I was done having kids an now in search of the Big O, if you will.  Also books by the Berman sisters for women on how to enjoy intimacy more were were a huge part of this. My journey now through the change of life is not dramatic because I had such an education 10 years ago that allowed me to see better what was going on and not let the doctors take advantage. The last 10 years with my husband and with the change of life stuff and just plain getting older have been FANTASTIC! I see women suffering all around me. Maybe they don’t have the courage to find another answer, maybe they don’t really want to…who knows. THANK YOU for not being afraid to post this! Someone is going to see it and it will be just the thing that starts their journey.  I want to shout my story! It is about being comfortable in your own body. Own it! It is yours to keep. God made us perfectly!  This book, For Women Only, Revised Edition: A Revolutionary Guide to Reclaiming Your Sex Life, explained soo much about what my body was doing and WHY! It really freed me of many concerns and put me on the path to listening to my body both for my health and sexually. There really is a reason why sometimes, during the cycle of 28 days, that I don’t respond to my husband the same way.  Ding!  I thought it was something I was doing wrong!  It’s stressful to fake it. Now we have about 8-10 days of fireworks and another 8-10 days of what I describe to him as a really great massage, but I am not freaked out about it and he doesn’t worry that I am not ‘enjoying it as much’. I really actually am better than ever before. Thank You Dr. Berman.  
  • Kelly, I 100% agree with your reader about the hysterectomy.  I had my uterus out at age 31 shortly after my last baby was born because of excess bleeding call adanomyois.  Having my uterus out wasn’t as big of an issue for me physically but it did lesson my desire for sex as I had no feeling anymore and could not have an orgasm because my cervix was also removed and things no longer worked or felt the same. In edition, I didn’t realize that a common side affect was chronic urinary tract infections which could be brought on by intercourse. Some doctors tac the bladder up to hold it in place nowadays but 15 years they didn’t.  At age 39 I had one of my ovaries removed and that is when my life totally changed. Within 6 months my mood swings were unbearable, depression, sex to this day nearly makes me vomit as I have absolutely no desire at all ever and I cringe just thinking about it. And worse is that I had always wanted a large family and absolutely adored children of all ages especially babies and toddlers. Having that ovary out altered my hormones and my nurturing motherly instincts as I began to not want to be touched and hung on all the time. I started withdrawing and pulling away from my husband and my children because those feelings were no longer a part of me.  The good news for those of us who have already had the surgery that I have found over the last few years that changing my diet over to whole and mostly organics as well as supplements has made a world of difference.  It still pains me to have no interest in sex, but I am grateful that after years of arguing, my husband had learned to not make it an issue in our marriage anymore and we are very happily married now.  So my advice to any woman considering a hysterectomy, DON’T, it isn’t worth it unless it is life or death.

At the very end of this post I’m including a story of one person who has had chronic pain and still no answers.  It’s very long, which is why I’m adding it down at the end, but wanted to post it in case anyone can help her!

Thank you, Anna, for this:  Saving the Whole Woman 2nd Edition: Natural Alternatives to Surgery for Pelvic Organ Prolapse and Urinary Incontinence was an eye-opening book that provides useful information that most surgeons and gynecologists FAIL to share with their patients, even during the “informed consent” conversation.

I’m so glad I got a hysterectomy!

  • I was 23 years old when I had to have a hysterectomy.  I tried to hang on to it as I knew of the many potential challenges.  However, I enjoy my intimate life with my husband very much.  I will be 58 this April.  I had a left salpingo-oopherectomy 5 years later and in 1990 I had the right salpingo-oopherectomy.  I am married to a wonderful man and I promise there is NO challenge with my sex life what so ever.
  • I had a full hysterectomy 14 years ago!  GREATEST thing I ever did. Sex is still AMAZING!!!
  • I had total hys at 32. After years of stage IV Endo, it was a huge relief to wake up pain free. However I think having a talented and cautious surgeon is critical as is a good team of people to help balance the hormones after. My MD had no clue about hormones so I suffered for a few years until I found some people who could help me. It’s work to stay balanced, but it’s easier than having chronic pain. But I wonder if it would be better had I looked into alternative care from the beginning.
  • I am so thankful I had my hysterectomy! My periods were so bad I couldn’t stand up straight! I was in soo much pain and bled soo much I couldn’t leave the house! My ovaries are still there and my hormones are a little out of whack, but I am so happy with my decision, and me and my husband are doing fine in the bedroom. I’m so sorry for those who have not had a better experience.

Here’s a sort of in-between answer, but with some good advice:

  • It’s awful being in a position of second guessing. I fought having the surgery for so long and then went for so many opinions, that I just can’t go there. I really wish it never had to happen, and perhaps if I had been given different information, I would have proceeded differently, but I wasn’t, so I didn’t, and I’m thankful for all I do have. I’m celebrating just finishing a full year on GAPS and trusting God for continuing healing in my life.  But to anyone considering a hysterectomy, I’d recommend not only getting two doctor’s opinions, but also going to alternative care practitioners to see if there is anything else you can do before even considering it. In my case, I was bleeding all the time and a lot. I couldn’t go anywhere because of it. But for these women who were told it was just that time or it would make life easier for them……..that is just not right.

Your turn!

Please share more if you had a similar or a unique experience, as many are very much in need of this information!

Read more:   Hang on to your Uterus!

Also:  Is it safe to have a vasectomy or get your tubes tied?

Last one:  Dangers of the birth control pill

Problems after a tubal ligation?

Amy on Facebook asked, “I’ve heard similarly sad things about women who opted for tubal ligations for permanent birth control – can anyone confirm? My mom had one and said it was fine, then I started hearing scary things…

Kerry replied, “As far as tubal ligation, yes, it cuts off the main blood supply to the ovaries and menopause can start in. Our bodies work with small shifts in hormones. I would search tubal ligation on the Internet. I was really surprised at how many people wanted a reversal.”

If you would email me and let me know your experience after a tubal ligation, I’ll post on that next:  Kelly@KellytheKitchenKop.com.  Thanks!

Can anyone offer insight to help this woman with chronic pain?

Kelly,  I thought I’d send you a brief summary of my experience to help with your upcoming post.  If you want or need more info, I’d be happy to supply it.  I will say, up front, that my reasons for considering hysterectomy are not heavy bleeding or fibroids, but a pain issue that as of yet has not been actually diagnosed beyond “chronic pain”, so my thoughts may not fit with your article.

I’ve been experiencing moderate to severe lower right abdomen/right side pelvic pain since September 2007.  I’ve never gotten a firm diagnosis as to the cause, though my pain “peaks” follow my cycle closely and apparently “sounds like” endometriosis to every doctor who hears my description.  However, two laparoscopies were negative for endometriosis, and I’ve tried many various treatments with no relief.  I’ve tried completely natural ideas, following recommendations from osteopaths, a “psychopharmacologist”, a naturopath; I even did GAPS for over a year without even a minimal reduction in pain.  I’ve tried physical therapy, acupuncture, trigger point injections in my abdomen AND vaginally (yeouch!) nerve blocks, hormone therapy, even considered having a spinal stimulator put in (a hypogastric plexus nerve block failed to help and I was told that made it unlikely a spinal stimulator would).

I have been told by three different surgeons that they would recommend a hysterectomy BUT it’s basically a 50/50 chance that it would help.  I’m only 37, so the idea of losing my uterus and remaining ovary (left was lost to complications from an ectopic pregnancy) with odds like that seems like a huge risk.  However, I can say that my pain has left our marriage in an essentially sexless state.  At the most, we might make love 4 times in a year, but even if we wait until I’m in relatively little pain, it tends to exacerbate the problem afterwards, which leaves my husband feeling guilty no matter what I say.

Thankfully, I’m married to an incredibly sweet and Godly man, who has been nothing but loving and supportive through all this, and does not even consider the sex problem an issue.

It sounds like she’s tried everything, hopefully someone out there has some new ideas or insight for her?!

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  • { 24 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 sgs January 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

    Kelly, heartfelt thanks to you and all the women who shared their stories.

    Reading these stories for me affirms that I did the right thing by refusing to have a hysterectomy (early 50’s). My main problem was fibroids and the accompanying endless bleeding …to the point where over the course of 3-4 years I was being transfused 2-3 times a year. Very very bad quality of life. After non-stop bleeding for 13 months, unable to leave the house most of those days, my gyn told me I had no choice, that I HAD to have a hysterectomy to save my life. A second gyn agreed.

    The mandatory hysterectomy opinion was given after three years of everything from synthetic hormone pills to shots of depo-provera (which made it much worse). Nothing helped. I begged for something different, let’s just try something else. My doc finally said no, nothing else, no more pills …you have a hysterectomy or I will no longer treat you. I was devastated. I felt I had nowhere to turn.

    I started researching homeopathic remedies. I read a lot about estrogen and progesterone and realized I was probably in estrogen dominance (after talking online with many women who had gone through similar experiences). I started using a natural progesterone cream (Progest) to offset the estrogen overload and stopped – STOPPED – bleeding within one week. That was a year ago. I had several very very light periods and then went into menopause (which is what I’d hoped would happen if I held on long enough and didn’t give in to the hysterectomy). I feel like the Progest saved my life – literally. When I tried to speak to both my old and my new gyn about this, neither would even allow the discussion.

    What is amazing to me is that my critical condition – massive blood loss – was unable to be corrected by “modern medicine” and wouldn’t even be discussed in terms of natural treatment, yet the use of a very simple and readily available (at health food stores) cream and a balancing of progesterone and estrogen in my body got me back to normal. I want to add also that if I ate red meat and chicken during the worst times of my condition, my blood flow would increase dramatically. Through my conversation with a homeopath, I came to believe this was from me consuming extra estrogen from the meat. It was at that point that I really became aware of the hormone content in our meat supply and the effect it was having on me — it was like clockwork, very predictable.

    I am adding my comment here in the hopes that it may help others who may be experiencing the same nightmare I was. I was ready to give up until I found help in the most unexpected places, help that my own doctor could not or would not give me.

    Reply

    2 KitchenKop January 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    Wow, that is an amazing story, thank you for sharing!

    Everyone, please know, we are not saying “do not listen to your doctor” – we are saying, “RESEARCH more for yourself before blindly following your doctor”. I think any good doctor would agree that that’s good advice.

    It’s sad how many don’t know how powerful natural remedies can be!

    Kelly

    Reply

    3 Lucinda January 22, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Try the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Albee did my surgery there, and he is great! The docs there know how to find endometriosis that other doctors do not recognise. Read the “What is Endometriosis” tab on http://www.centerforendo.com to learn more. Also, there is an email list to learn more from other patients called WitsEndo. This mailing list provides a discussion forum where those with endometriosis can seek advice and support from each other. To join WitsEndo, please send an email to LISTSERV@listserv.dartmouth.edu where the subject line is blank, and in the text you write: subscribe Witsendo lastname, firstname. Good luck!!

    Reply

    4 Amy January 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for posting this Kelly. I wanted to add that seeing a classical homeopath might be helpful for the woman with chronic pain. It sounds like she’s tried everything else. Homeopathy can work wonders. For me, personally, it helped with several gynecological issues, though I never had heavy bleeding, but it targets your personal body “constitution” and symptoms. You just need to do a lot of research and find someone good who knows what they are doing as there is a range in quality (and a naturopath who also offers homeopathy is NOT the same thing as a dedicated homeopathic doctor).

    Reply

    5 Elizabeth January 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm

    Kelly, thank you for your informative blog. To the lady with the chronic pain, please take a moment to read the article on Sarah Pope’s blog http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/curing-endometriosis-with-diet-and-holistic-therapies-alone/#more-11042. Perhaps the problem is not endometriosis, however, the nutritional advice and free videos found on Sarah’s blog are well worth looking into.

    Reply

    6 KitchenKop January 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    This post on Sarah’s blog just went up today, how timely! :)

    Reply

    7 Lisa January 22, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    I am worried about being pushed for at least a partial hysto because I have been battling with chronic high risk HPV ( can lead to cervical cancer) for about 6 years or so. I have had several laser surgeries to remove surface cervical tissue that had begun precancerous changes. I only have 1 child and Im only 34. I am now being told that a 3rd laser procedure is recommended then possible a hysto in the next few years. If I do either sterilization is being pushed because I will not have much of any cervix left and pregnancy would be likely to end in tragedy. Im undecided if we will have more children but I dont want that option taken away. Im new to the idea of natural healing and I am wondering what if anything I can do to prompt my body to finally realize that it needs to clear up the HPV. As long as the virus hangs out happily in my cervical tissue Im at risk for cancer, yet I dont want to damage my body more than I already have. 6 years and for whatever reason my body hasnt fought it off at all. I was eating the typical high sugar SAD diet most my life, have chronic migrains and PCOS. I know I need to work on healing my body but my Drs just roll thier eyes when I ask about more natural therepys

    Reply

    8 Amy January 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    My ob-gyn says it’s all about your immune system – that is what will prevent HPV from becoming cancer. Apparently 50% of women experience it, most fight it off. She actually specifically cited vitamins, healthy diet, exercise, sleep. Some things you could try are homeopathy (as I mentioned above) , an immune supplement like olive leaf extract or reishi or the like, working out your hormonal issues (which is seems you likely have if you have pcos), accupuncture and chinese medicine, or just plain stress reduction and a healthier lifestyle.

    Reply

    9 Emily January 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    The problem with surgery is that you never know which way it will go. I thought having a bunionectomy was bad!

    Great post, Kelly! A lot of hard work went into it, and I think I speak for many of your readers when I say I appreciate it. :)

    Reply

    10 Heidi January 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I’m glad you posted on this. I have a friend who is having the surgery in 8 days :( I’m very scared for her.
    After my 4th was born I had my tubes tied. Little did I know that it would throw my thyroid into a downward spiral that I’m working hard to reverse. If that can happen after a simple tubal ligation, I can only imagine what could happen after a hysterectomy!

    Reply

    11 jeana January 22, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I also have fought HPV and have had much of my cervix removed. Since I had that surgery about 3 years ago my paps have been clear. I started on a real food diet about a year ago and am very hopeful that that will continue to help my body fight it off and a hystorectomy won’t have to happen. Anyone that has any info/testimony on HPV and healing with a real food diet please share.

    Reply

    12 Dawn @ Small Footprint Family January 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    The first thing that popped into my mind reading the last woman’s story of chronic pain was round ligament pain. The round ligaments, which hold the uterus in place, can develop fascia adhesions that can be quite painful and can greatly affect comfort during sex and even your fertility. These adhesions are more common if you have had children, but they can happen to any woman.

    It could also be a problem with the ileocecal valve, located very low in the large intestine close to the right ovary.

    Maya massage or a careful Rolfer can solve either of these problems, and release the connective tissue adhesions, ending the pain. A medical doctor or anyone in conventional medicine couldn’t diagnose or treat this, if that is what it is. However, one session with a good Maya practitioner or Rolfer would tell you if this was the problem right away.

    Here’s articles about Maya massage:
    http://www.care2.com/greenliving/maya-abdominal-massage.html
    http://www.massageandbodywork.com/Articles/AugSept2002/Mayan.html

    And one about ileocecal valve problems: http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/articles/massage1.php

    Reply

    13 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook January 23, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Sorry to burst your bubble dear, but it was the best thing I ever did!!! Would repeat it in a heartbeat!(:

    Reply

    14 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook January 23, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    I agree – I felt so much healthier and no more pain!!!

    Reply

    15 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook January 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    @ Pamela Ann Schwier – You’re not ‘bursting my bubble’, I’m glad to hear that – in my post I shared stories from those who feel both ways.

    Reply

    16 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook January 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks

    Reply

    17 %kelly the kitchen kop% via Facebook January 23, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Thanks

    Reply

    18 Sharon January 23, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    Thank you for the post. This is something I have been battling. For the lady experiencing chronic pain I would recommend the cleanses at http://www.herbdoc.com He also has an incuriables program.

    Reply

    19 Laura February 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    I have been healing my prolapse naturally with Mayan abdominal massage and from this site: http://www.alignedandwell.com/katysays/. I can’t recommend this class enough: http://www.restorativeexercise.com/no-more-kegels/. It’s taught by the blogger in the above site. But she also has lots of free information on her blog as well. It’s great for any pelvic issues.

    Reply

    20 Tara March 25, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    For the last story about the woman with chronic pain… This story speaks to me so much! I have undiagnosed pelvic pain too! Pain & bleeding during sex. I’ve had laprascopy for endometriosis bit none was found. I have a uterine fibroid for the past three yrs but my dr isn’t positive it’s causing my now daily cramping pains. I’ve decided to go for a partial hysterectomy. It’s a very scary decision because I’m 36 with no kids. But ice felt with issues since age 15 and I’m over it. I’m praying the surgery helps!

    Reply

    21 Tara March 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I had to say sorry for my typos in my previous comment. My phone’s autocorrect can’t read my mind yet.

    Reply

    22 EmilyinHouston August 16, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    I had an oophrectomy (ovaries out) due to being high risk for ovarian cancer (BRC2 positive). I had no idea that my sex drive would completely go away. Now I understand why old ladies are depicted as being prudish (I never was, but now the though of intimacy grosses me out)! I also didn’t know about the bladder infections, osteoarthritis and “vaginal atrophy” which comes from no estrogen. Interestingly, I elected to have my ovaries out following breast cancer, but no doctor would give me hormone supplements (because of cancer risk) even after becoming diminished from all the consequences of zero estrogen. I had them out at 42, and I’m now going on 50. I have osteoarthritis on my neck and knees, much bone loss and fatigue, flab around my belly though I hardly eat. Ovaries out in your 40s takes 10 years off your life. If I could do it all over, I would leave my ovaries in and take my chances with cancer. Ovaries out + no HRT = old lady.

    Reply

    23 KitchenKop August 17, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Emily, I’m sorry for all that you’ve been through! I wonder if there isn’t *something* else out there that could help… I’ll put this on my FB page to see if anyone might know. Either way, though, thank you for sharing your experience to help others know more about the risks.

    Kelly

    Reply

    24 Mimi Rodriguez September 8, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences. It has really helped me understand what I could be getting into. I’m 32 years old and I’m currently waiting on the date of my surgery. I’m a bit scared of the outcome.

    Reply

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