Q Doctor, I have to take an operation, and two of my friends tell me that it will be the end of my sex life. Is this true?
I am female, age 38, and for some time I have been suffering from pain and discomfort in the lower part of the belly. Also, sex has been uncomfortable, particularly with my current boyfriend - who is quite large.
Earlier this year, the doctors discovered that the problem was fibroids. I know you have mentioned these in 'Outlook', and I understand that they are swellings in the womb.
Well, the docs have decided that I must take that hysterectomy operation, doc.
As soon as I told my friends this, they laughed. And one of them said : 'You will be an old woman after this!' And the other friend said: 'You won't be able to have sex no more.'
I am sure they thought this was real funny, but it did not seem funny to me, doc. I love my man, and I do not want to stop having sex with him. If that happened, I might even lose him. So please tell me, doc: what is that 'hysterectomy' operation? And does it mean that a woman must give up all sexual pleasure?
A. Well, I cannot say that I think very much of your friends' sense of humour. But maybe they believe what they told you, because it is a fact that many people are muddled and mistaken about the subject of hysterectomy.
Let me explain. 'Hysterectomy' means 'removal of the womb' - or, as a few older people still call it, 'the breeding bag'.
And it is only the womb that the surgeon-specialists take away. They do not remove the vagina or the clitoris or the labia, or any of the parts which give pleasure when stimulated.
Hysterectomy is a real common operation - though not as common as it used to be, since surgeons have developed new ways of treating fibroids and other conditions. However, the docs have clearly decided that a hysterectomy is the best thing for you.
I think that you should now try to find out from them just exactly which type of hysterectomy they are going to do. There are some differences in the various types of operation. The most important point to establish is whether the docs are planning to remove your ovaries as well.
You see, taking out the ovaries, in someone as young as yourself, will almost certainly cause quite severe 'menopause symptoms'. So, if it is possible to leave your ovaries inside your body, then that would make life easier for you.
Now, in the ordinary type of hysterectomy operation, it is just the womb that is taken away. They do not remove the vagina, but they may well have to do some stitching at the very top of it. The area of stitching will take the best part of a couple of months to heal up. So clearly, the woman should NOT have a penis 'poking around' inside her vagina until complete healing has occurred.
In fact, whether there are stitches in the vagina or not, a woman who has had a hysterectomy should NOT have sex until the surgeon tells her that she can do so. Even then, it is best to avoid 'deep penetration' and powerful thrusting for a little while.
So, we have established that even though you are going to have a hysterectomy, you are still going to be able to have sex.
But will it FEEL any different - either to you or to your man?
Well, to your guy it should feel absolutely NO different. I very much doubt if the average man could tell the difference between a woman who has had a hysterectomy and one who hasn't!
But what about YOU? Will you feel any different? The answer is 'Yes'. Sexual intercourse does indeed feel rather different after you have had the womb taken away.
The main change is likely to be in the feeling of orgasm. You see, some of the sensations which women experience during a sexual climax are due to repeated contractions of the womb. So, if that womb has been taken away, you clearly cannot feel any contractions in it.
However, many women say that when they discharge it is still 'nice - but different'. Recently, there have been reports from an organisation called 'The Hyster Sisters' in the USA, which say that a few females actually enjoy better orgasms after a hysterectomy.
You can find out more about this on their website, which is: www.hystersisters.com.
Another thing to bear in mind is that the operation will get rid of those fibroids, which have been causing you so much trouble. You told me in your email that the fibroids were making sex uncomfortable, but that will no longer be the case.
Also, the removal of the womb and fibroids should make room for your apparently large guy.
So please, be guided by the surgeons. But I think that the future is bright, for you - and for your love life!