Every year out of the 600,000 hysterectomies that are performed in the United States, approximately 540,000 are not medically necessary. Shocking, right? Although research over the last decade has revealed that the uterus is tied to so many other critical women’s health functions, hysterectomies continue to be unnecessarily performed.
All of the long-lasting side effects of hysterectomies are still not completely known or understood. However, a large portion of women who have personally experienced a hysterectomy is telling their stories. Sadly, many of these stories recount the heavy toll it has taken on their relationships, particularly their marriages.
Why Are So Many Hysterectomies Performed Each Year?
Let’s talk frankly for a few minutes before we proceed to talk about divorces. How come doctors perform so many hysterectomies? How come women do not question their doctors when they are told they need a hysterectomy? Some of the most common reasons are:
- Women trust doctors;
- Women do not normally question doctors;
- Women are being used for teaching credits;
- OB/GYNs typically recommend treatments that they are trained to perform;
- Women lack knowledge of alternative treatments available.
Historically, women trust what the doctor is telling them. After all, the doctors are the ones with the medical degree.
Are Doctors Using Women as “Teaching Tools”?
Did you know that Obstetrics and Gynecology residents must perform 85 total hysterectomies to get through medical school? And they also have to perform 145 cesarean births (unrelated but also shocking)! This might explain some of the unnecessary surgeries that are performed on women each year.
Women’s Doctors Typically Offer Only the Treatments They Perform
OB/GYNs are surgeons. When a woman is diagnosed with uterine fibroids (one of the most common reasons for a hysterectomy), the OB/GYN will often offer only surgical treatments. Surgery is what they do, it is what they get paid to do, and a hysterectomy is less complex to perform than a myomectomy. There are many testimonials from women diagnosed with fibroids who went to several OB/GYNs looking for treatment and were only offered hysterectomy as a treatment choice.
Why Are Women Hesitant to Question Their Doctor?
Many women have had negative experiences with the way they have been treated by doctors and others in the healthcare industry. Women’s symptoms and pain are more often discounted and ignored than that of their male counterparts. This does not sound like something that would take place today but studies agree this is still a real issue in the medical arena.
- In an article from The New York Times, Dr. Tia Powell, a bioethicist and professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine said that there is a bias in the medical industry that affects how women are treated, heard, and understood. She said the problem is beginning to be recognized and addressed but it seems we have a long way to go;
- Women are treated differently by the medical community than men. Research has shown that after surgery women are prescribed less pain medication than men despite their higher pain levels;
- The results of a study presented at the Annual Academic Emergency Medicine Conference in Chicago revealed that women had to wait longer to be treated or given medication for pain when they visited the emergency room with abdominal pain;
- 2,400 women responded to a survey conducted by the National Pain Report and For Grace in preparation for a conference the non-profit was conducting. 90% of the respondents reported they felt the medical industry discriminates against women who experience chronic pain. 65% reported that they felt their pain was taken less seriously because they were female and some were even told their pain was psychosomatic.
Women Should Make Their Own Informed Medical Decisions
Historically, women have been hesitant to question their doctors and many do not feel comfortable seeking a second opinion. Somehow, they feel obligated to that doctor and feel guilty about any reservations they are feeling in regard to suggested treatment, such as undergoing a hysterectomy.
Your health is your business and you have every right to question anything a doctor tells you. You know your body better than anyone else and you should know that it is okay to get several opinions. You should feel comfortable with the proposed treatment plan. After all, you are the one who is going to deal with any side effects or long-term complications from the surgery if they occur, not the doctor who performs it.
Make sure you do your research for alternate treatments, reviews, and new advancements in medicine. Although there is much misinformation and junk available online, it can also be a great source of accurate information, medical studies, and real-life testimonials from women just like you.
How Does a Hysterectomy Affect a Marriage or Relationship?
It is important to understand how many unnecessary hysterectomies are performed every year and some of the reasons why they are done. Both the direct and indirect side effects associated with hysterectomy may cost you more than you suspect.
In other articles, we discussed that removing the uterus was linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, ovarian failure, memory problems, mental health issues, premature aging, sexual dysfunction, etc. All of these side effects would have an impact on you and the other people in your life, especially those closest to you.
According to the HERS Foundation, 1,000 women were surveyed after undergoing a hysterectomy about all the changes and side effects they experienced.
The type of hysterectomy by the patient was broken down as follows:
- Only the uterus was removed – 214;
- Uterus and one ovary removed – 95;
- Uterus and both ovaries removed 691.
Today we are going to look at the results of the survey data that could hinder or affect their most intimate relationship and sex after hysterectomy. We are going to compare the group of women who had only their uterus removed to those who lost their uterus and both ovaries.
The Effect of Hysterectomy on Women’s Sexual Function Chart
|Negative Side Effects of Hysterectomy
|Removed Uterus Only
|Removed Uterus and Ovaries
|Loss of libido (sexual desire)
|Decrease of pleasure during intercourse
|Reduced frequency of intercourse
|Loss of feeling sexy or desirable
|Pain during intercourse
|Loss in vaginal sensation
|Loss in labia sensation
|Loss in clitoris sensation
|Loss of stamina
|Loss of pleasure from foreplay
|Reduced or no vaginal lubrication
Hysterectomy Compromises Sexual Fulfillment
From the chart above it is easy to see that out of these 1,000 women surveyed after undergoing a hysterectomy more than half of them experienced issues that directly impacted their sex life and subsequently, that of their partner.
Another study concluded that removing a woman’s uterus with a hysterectomy compromises her sexual well-being, especially when combined with the removal of the ovaries. Hysterectomy can affect her quality of life and brings with it not only psychosexual health ramifications but several significant health issues as well. The study went on to state that patients should be made aware of these risks and that alternative treatments should be pursued.
A large part of an intimate relationship is fueled by a strong sexual connection. It would make sense that side effects from a hysterectomy and sexless marriage could lead to a divorce.
Hysterectomy Compromises Relationships
Relationships that a woman has between a significant other, friends, family, co-workers, etc. can be significantly affected if they develop social anxiety, can no longer participate in the relationship due to fatigue, or become difficult to get along with. Survey results show several areas of crucial healthy relationships that were adversely affected as a result of a hysterectomy.
The Effect of Hysterectomy on Women’s Social Life and Relationships Chart
|Negative Side Effects of Hysterectomy
|Removed Uterus Only
|Removed Uterus and Ovaries
|More frequently irritable
|Changes in personality
|Diminished capability to socially interact
|Diminished maternal feelings
|Increase in anxiety
Mood swings, sexual dysfunction, depression, irritability, anxiety, etc. after undergoing a hysterectomy can be responsible for destroying relationships women have with their partner, family, friends, and more.
Marriage After Hysterectomy
1. Husband claims a wife is a different person after a hysterectomy.
One man wrote to a self-help online forum that offered advice for husbands after a hysterectomy stating his wife had become a different person since undergoing a hysterectomy three years earlier. He said she was always angry with him and they had not had sex in two years but for the 16 years prior to the surgery, they had a wonderful relationship. He wanted to know if the hysterectomy could have been the cause of her personality shift and current emotional state.
He received several replies to his questions, and most respondents who told their personal experiences confirmed his suspicion that removing a woman’s uterus can lead to many negative social and relational side effects.
2. A woman from the United Kingdom tells the story of how her hysterectomy almost ruined her new marriage because of the debilitating side effects it caused.
Another online forum dedicated to women who have undergone hysterectomies is full of stories related to their mood swings, depression, and anxiety that have affected their marriages.
Is There a Hysterectomy Divorce Rate?
According to Science Daily, abandonment of a sick or debilitated patient is done six times more frequently by men than by women. The study showed that when women were diagnosed with cancer or MLS, the separation and divorce rate was almost 21% but when the man was the patient it was only 3%. Whether the hysterectomy was performed due to cancer, fibroids, or another reason, the side effects and long-lasting consequences are the same.
Women can experience severe personality and mood changes that can influence their decision-making process and are cautioned from making any serious decisions for a significant amount of time after undergoing a hysterectomy.
Advice For Husbands After Hysterectomy
Many men struggle after their significant other has a hysterectomy. Let’s be honest, this surgery can be a bit sensitive and the source of a wide range of emotions depending on the specific reasons for the hysterectomy.
Many couples go through the process of a hysterectomy and encounter the unpleasant surprise of an unexpected roller-coaster of emotions bubbling to the surface in the months that follow.
A few pieces of advice for men after a hysterectomy:
- Educate Yourself With Accurate Information
- Learn as much as you can about the surgery so you can fully support your significant other and you will have an understanding of how it may or may not affect you.
- Do Not Let It Hinder Your Intimacy
- Many men and women worry that the surgery will permanently ruin their sex life. Normally, this is not true and in many cases, sex has been hindered because of the issues that caused the need for a hysterectomy. Women may feel less sexually capable after a hysterectomy and your attitude will make a big difference.
- Make Sure To Appeal To Her Femininity
- Even though on an intellectual level, women understand that their “womanhood” or feminine nature is not literally tied to their uterus, emotionally it may be a different story. Also, if she wanted but never had children, it is common for her to need to process her grief. Plan dates, reassure her you love her, tell her she is beautiful, and avoid becoming frustrated with her through her emotional ups and downs. This will help her process her grief as well as strengthen the relationship.
- Ease Back Into Your Sex Life
- Usually, sex for men after a hysterectomy is pretty much the same but for women, vigours sex too soon can be painful and discouraging. A prudent piece of advice for husbands after a hysterectomy is to try to be sensitive and take it slow and ease back into your sexual relationship, try to be creative for a while until she is feeling comfortable. Also, after a hysterectomy, some women have physical issues such as less lubrication or trouble having an orgasm. Being prepared for these situations and staying patient with her will help get your sex life back on track.
- Find the Pros Of The Hysterectomy
- Looking at the positive side of things after a hysterectomy can help both of you cope with changes that occur. Overall a little positive support for your special lady can make a huge difference.
Avoid Hysterectomy, Use Alternate Treatments
If you have been told you need a hysterectomy due to uterine fibroids, heavy bleeding, or adenomyosis, please contact the Atlanta Fibroid Center and set up a consultation. In many cases, your condition can be treated without removing your uterus and with no surgery.
Uterine fibroid embolization (UFE) is a procedure that is performed as an outpatient and only takes about 45 minutes in the hands of an experienced UFE specialist. During the procedure, an Interventional Radiologist blocks the vital blood supply to the fibroids (leiomyomas), which eliminates their symptoms and heavy bleeding. For adenomyosis patients, the same procedure can provide similar relief.
Patients go home from the outpatient center with only a Band-Aid and after a short recovery can enjoy a better quality of life. With their uterus intact, they do not need to worry about all the negative side effects associated with a hysterectomy. Contact us today and let us help you!