Decreased Vaginal Sensation Post-Hysterectomy

My wife had a radical hysterectomy 6 weeks ago. We have (gently) began to have sex again but she says it feels different, that there is little or no vaginal stimulation. I can get her to orgasm with external stimulation, but when I try to finish up with penetration (her favorite part) she says she cant feel it like she used to. Is this common. I have heard that many women have reported better sex after surgery. Does the feeling come back with time? This is distressing for both of us as we enjoyed an outstanding sex life prior to the surgery. She will begin Chemo and radiation next week so now we are hoping that it does not kill her ovaries which opens an entire new line of possible problems. I just want to do what is best for her.

From the HysterSisters

I am so sorry you and your wife are having to go through so much. It does seem to add insult to injury that often the procedures designed to save our lives affect our physical relationship just at a time when it is very important to us.

For many women, it does take a long time for sensation to return after a hysterectomy, especially if the surgery is done vaginally. Nerves may be cut, and while they can often regenerate, it takes much more than six weeks for that to happen. In addition, having the surgery can affect the woman's ability to relax during intercourse because of fear of being hurt; this can sometimes be such a strong feeling that it can prevent her from enjoying sex. And, having a hysterectomy, even if the ovaries are kept, can affect the ovaries because it disrupts their blood supply; sometimes even if the ovaries seem to still be cycling, they don't produce quite enough estrogen for the vaginal walls to stay healthy and elastic, which helps with sexual response.

Unfortunately, if your wife now has to undergo chemo and radiation, she is likely to experience even more difficulty with penetration, because those treatments can also affect the health of the vaginal walls. Chances are that her ovaries will be affected, and she may need to consult a DR about what options she may have to treat her menopausal symptoms and help the two of you to be able to have relations.

You and your wife are going through a lot right now, and that can put a lot of stress on a relationship. You need to make sure to keep the lines of communication between the two of you open. Help her to muster the courage to talk with her DR about the sexual side effects of the surgery and treatments she's undergoing (many women are very shy or embarassed about this); perhaps you could even offer to see the DR with her to discuss these issues. You may find that in the long term, your relationship grows stronger as your wife
heals and recovers from her treatments.