Shortened Vagina

It has been several years since my wife's hysterectomy—that went perfect according to doctors—and sex is still uncomfortable for her. Pushing against the back of the vagina to stretch it produces unpleasurable sensations. The doctors say her vagina is "just tight," but in reality it is simply too short for normal sex. How are others dealing with this problem?

I am sorry to hear that the two of you are experiencing an issue with intercourse that might be related to the surgery.

In a standard hysterectomy there should be very minimal shortening of the vagina. However, if your wife had a radical hysterectomy due to a diagnosis of cervical cancer, it could have caused her vagina be shortened quite a bit. During a radical hysterectomy, a portion of the vagina is removed to make sure that all cervical tissue has been excised to prevent a recurrence of the cancer.

Menopause, whether natural or surgical, may also be causing the problem. The loss of hormones can make the tissue less elastic, making the vagina seem shorter.

So what can you do to improve things?

If it is possible, discuss with your wife and her doctor the use of vaginal estrogen to help improve the elasticity of the tissue. Another possibility is the use of vaginal dilators, with or without the estrogen, that may stretch the tissue when used regularly. Some doctors provide them, and some women have to go online and purchase them. Sets range from small to large sizes. Sometimes they are made from a hard plastic, so some women prefer looking for something that is more soft and flexible.

If the surgery was for cervical cancer and did shorten the vagina, you may have to find a different position that works. Some couples opt to use a ring that prevents penetration to the point of pain for either of you. The American Cancer Society webiste has topics on sexuality and intercourse after cancer that may provide you with some additional information.

Hopefully this has given you some helpful ideas that will allow you to enjoy many more years of intimacy.

This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.