Hysterectomy is a surgical procedure used to remove the womb (uterus), which is performed to treat conditions that affect the female reproductive system such as long-term pelvic pain, non-cancerous tumours and ovarian cancer. It's major surgery and has a prolonged recovery time, due to the risks involved it is often performed after other less invasive approaches have not been successful.
How does a hysterectomy influence menopause?
Menopause is when the body slows down and eventually stops producing estrogen. Women typically begin to experience menopause symptoms from age 45, but if a hysterectomy is required before this age it will kick start menopause. If a full menopause if being carried out, the ovaries will also be removed, this will lead to an immediate surgical menopause.
How is surgical menopause different?
When a woman goes through surgical menopause, symptoms can begin almost immediately, such as hot flushes, night sweats, vaginal dryness, mood changes and tiredness. Because of the sudden change in hormones, menopausal symptoms can be more severe than during a typical menopause. In this situation don’t be afraid to seek help, there are lots of treatments that can offer relief from these symptoms.
What is a partial Hysterectomy?
Some women may require a partial hysterectomy, for this the ovaries are not removed. For those who keep their ovaries, menopause symptoms will not begin as suddenly as they would with a full hysterectomy. As the womb is removed, following a partial hysterectomy you will not have periods, which can make it difficult to know when menopause has begun. Often women who have had a partial hysterectomy will start the menopause a few years earlier than average.
If you’re unsure whether your combination of symptoms following a partial hysterectomy are menopause symptoms your healthcare professional can carry out a simple blood test to clarify.
Being intimate again after a hysterectomy
A hysterectomy is major surgery and requires weeks, maybe even months to heal. Following a hysterectomy you may have concerns about the changes to your body and this may lead you to wonder how this will affect your relationship with your partner.
A study carried out by the University of Maryland Medical Centre found that for many women, sex after hysterectomy was even more enjoyable than before, as the pain or discomfort they used to experience has disappeared.
Vaginal dryness is a common menopause symptom, which can cause discomfort during intercourse. OVIO replenish is a hormone-free vaginal moisturiser which can help ease general discomfort from vaginal dryness and reduce pain during intercourse.
The general advice is to avoid intercourse for four to six weeks after hysterectomy surgery, but every woman is different. Speak with your healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns following your surgery. Do not feel embarrassed speaking with your healthcare professional about intercourse following your surgery, they will be able to offer advice based on how your body is healing.