The effect of a hysterectomy (the surgical removal of a woman's uterus) on quality of sexual functioning is a highly debated topic, and studies only fuel the discussion.
Some studies show decidedly improved sexual functioning post-hysterectomy; others reveal substantial sexual dysfunction coupled with hysterectomy.
Many factors can affect the outcomes of this common surgery for women. The age of the patient, quality of her prior sexual relationship, whether the woman's ovaries were also removed (bilateral oophorectomy), and her levels of pain and discomfort before surgery are some of the factors that can determine the quality of a woman's sexual functioning post-surgery.
One problem that has now been well documented is the paucity of presurgical patient education. One recent study indicated that less than half of hysterectomy patients received no information before their surgery about its impact on sexual functioning after surgery.
The women who did discuss this issue with their surgeons prior to surgery reported greater overall satisfaction with their surgery. Interestingly, telling women that there might be negative sexual effects from the surgery did not result in greater numbers of such effects being reported afterwards.
Women need better information about the potential problematic effects of hysterectomies so that they can recognize post-surgical problems for what they are and take steps to counter them.