Hysterectomy Broke My Orgasm

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 09:42
Submitted by Betty Dodson

Dear Dr. Betty,

I don't get it. Doctors admit there are few nerve endings in the vaginal walls; yet after they take us apart during a full hysterectomy, that's all we have left: the clit and the vaginal birth canal. Are we expected to magically grow nerve endings in those walls to facilitate orgasms post-hysterectomy? If so, I must have missed "retraining" day because my vaginal walls have the same slack sensations they've always had, only now they're 2/3 shorter and sore from a mesh protrusion.

Before my hysterectomy, which was done for the doctor's benefit during a bladder lift, I always looked at my vaginal walls just as a way to accommodate and transport something -- a penis, a toy, fingers -- up to where the REAL action was: the cervix and uterus!

Doctors don't tell us much about our bodies so I had to figure this out AFTER surgery. I figured out THAT'S where my "oh my god" moments were. Things up there (above the vag walls) gripped me, made me quiver, throb, pulse, and spasm, over and over, taking me to the edge of the only orgasms I've known since I was 13.

Doctor Dodson, let me ask you: when a baby nurses and it causes that little spasm in the mother's tummy; isn't that actually a uterine spasm? When the uterus is removed in hysterectomy, do doctors bother to reconnect those severed nerve lines from the mother's breasts to another spot in her pelvic anatomy, or does he just cut and throw out with the other "useless" female parts and pieces? I was shocked when my lover fondled my breasts and they no longer contained any erotic connection to the pelvis. I no longer feel or enjoy breast play. My once-wonderful, sweet sensations from breast to pelvic are broken connections; I've been robbed of them without any mention in the surgical disclaimers. This is outrageous.

I feel brutally cheated because I was never told I'd also lose my orgasms and their intensity. My (new) doctor said only 10% of women have uterine orgasms. So, I must have been having the "rare" kind. Can't doctors ascertain before taking the organs out if you need them for sex? Can't they ask something like, "Can you orgasm without something inside of you?" I needed clitoral rubbing as well as coordinated pushing -- deeply -- up, up high inside before I'd get off properly. After surgery, my first clue that my orgasms were gone was when my sleep orgasms abruptly disappeared. I'd still have the erotic dream, but instead of waking up in deep, huge throbs of ecstasy, I'd wake up shocked that I felt absolutely nothing except frustration. The awake orgasms are pathetic, too: they are a fraction of their former strength and shorter (2 - 3 spasms vs. my old ones that were 8 - 13, sometimes lasting close to 30 seconds if I was on testosterone). My vaginal wall has a stiff piece of mesh protruding and it's causing an ulcer that both me and my partner feel.

And on top of this, the surgeon broke my pudendal nerve. Do you think that could be the cause of this whole disaster? I can't hold my feces more than 25 seconds or it starts coming out; I pee myself easily; I wipe thinking I'm all done but the tissue gets soaking wet with more pee; so I'm peeing without the sensation of doing it. Also, my clit is virtually invisible. It has 75% less volume than it did before the surgery. Is it possible the nerve endings that supply the blood were severed? What other nerve lines are involved in this surgery and besides their being cut altogether, can they get damaged (thus causing the muted sensations) or can the mesh be growing into it?

Dear P,

What a disaster! After reading your email, I immediately thought "Sue the bastard for malpractice" but then I realized that most surgeons all do a similar procedure. But you can bet when they cut into a man's sex organ, nary a nerve is cut and most men are not even having orgasms with their fast ejaculations!

I can only hope that through consistent stimulation, your clitoris will fill out once a blood supply is being pumped into her via a good vibrator. Do you have access to your pelvic floor muscle (the PC muscle of Dr. Kegel's exercise post birth?) If so then perhaps not all is lost. However it will mean retraining your body to sexually respond to a whole new kind of stimulation. Also that mesh monster you mentioned must be corrected and I'm sure you will seek out another doctor for reconstruction surgery. And choosing a woman isn't always a solution either.

A client of mine who had a hysterectomy with a female doctor presented a very short vaginal barrel that would barely accommodate my 6 inch vaginal barbell that's a resistance device for toning the PC muscle. It's also a sleek stainless steel dildo that stays in place thanks to weighing a pound. When I asked if she'd had surgery and explained how short her vagina was, she broke into tears finally understanding her discomfort with vaginal penetration. Her surgeon was a woman doctor! None of them get any sex information in med school and other than birthing which is better left to a Doula, a woman trained in birthing, we did better before all this invasive surgery became available. (In all fairness, I'm grateful for my bilateral hip replacement that kept me from spending my old age sitting in a wheelchair.)

The only thing I can say that might be of some solace is that nerves can and do grow back, but it takes time. Although I don't know how long it's been since your surgery, a procedure like yours would take a year or more to heal. Since I'm not an medical doctor but a PhD sexologist, I rely mostly on my own and women's personal experiences. I'm rooting on your clitoral sensations returning combined with you consciously squeezing and releasing your pelvic floor muscles to get you through the worst patch of your recovery. There is a hysterectomy available that leaves the lower part of the uterus intact. But few do it as it takes more skill and time. I don't pretend to understand the complexities of the female sex organs. However surgeons wielding scalpels need to be held to much higher standards when it comes to procedures dealing with a woman's sex organs. Please keep me informed as I know other women have suffered similar fates.

Dr. Betty

PS. I'll post your email and perhaps a few women will respond.

Who in God's name survives this?

Liberating women one orgasm at a time

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Disastrous surgery

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 16:55

What a terrible story and cautionary tale. I hope you eventually have a full recovery of everything you lost from this mess. There seem to be many reports of women having significant pain and other sexual and medical complications from the use of transvaginal mesh in this kind of surgery, to take just one example among many other possible issues. I guess we can never be too careful when researching our doctors and the surgeries they're proposing to do on us.

Betty, I'd point out, however, that in surgeries for prostate and rectal cancer men too have a significant likelihood of having nerve damage, even if so-called 'nerve-sparing' techniques are used. This can make erections difficult or even impossible if the damage is extensive enough. Orgasms can become less intense, actually painful, or even disappear altogether. By the way, there's simply no need to get in a gratuitous dig at men about supposed 'fast ejaculations' and how they're not really orgasms. It seems to me that denigrating barbs and slights are as much to be avoided when discussing men as when discussing women.

Wishing you well

Fri, 04/18/2014 - 13:24

Dear P
I was so outraged to hear your story. I am truly sorry for all that you have suffered and lost. My thoughts & prayers are with you, wishing you a full recovery

I feel you, sister

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 08:57
CheckList (not verified)

At 30 I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids and my male GY insisted on surgery to "repair" my uterus. I asked a second opinion from a female GY and she said I had no chance of ever having a baby with such big fibroids, that I needed surgery before they could cause more damage.
The only "troubles" my fibroids were giving me were infertily and the fact that I looked pregnant, like 6 months pregnant, all the time. 
But surgery it was.
Nobody told me that my GY would inject me a drug used to treat prostate cancer. It is called Decapeptyl here in Spain. I found out afterwards. The purpose was to get me into menopause for 6 months so my uterus could heal unbothered by menstrual cycles.
[= 12.8000001907349px]I wish it took only six months. The horrors went on for years. I experienced severe cognitive impairment. I was sad all the time and slept a lot. I could not work, nor think, nor even remember wether I had to buy toilett paper or toothpaste. I could not stop crying. I found sex repulsive and I could not orgasm, no matter how hard I tried... I was finding my own body repulsive and my vag was so dry it hurt. [/]
[= 12.8000001907349px]As it turns out, oncologists also inject this drug to women with hormone-dependent breast cancer. Many patients share my experiences. Some lucky ones only experience one or two side effects. Lost of interest in sex is the most common one. Unfortunately, neither GYs nor the oncologists I have spoken to acknowledge that Decapeptyl can have these sort of side effects (again, I live in Spain, so maybe is different in other countries). [/]

My GY also forgot to mention that I had something like a year to get pregnant because he did a bad job and the scar tissue would leave me eventually with a "useless" uterus (a doctor's word, not mine). I found this about two years after the surgery, when the anesthesiologist that managed my surgery took pity of me and told me. She also told me that the only reason I still have my uterus -which plays a huge part in my orgasms- is because I made the bastard sign a document clearly stating that under no circumstances he would take my uterus out, that I'd rather die in the OR. 

[= 12.8000001907349px]It has taken me almost six years to get out of that dark, numbing hole. As soon as I could, I started to retrain my body and to enjoy masturbation again. I trained my mind to enjoy life again and I have learned to cope with my cognitive problems.[/]
[= 12.8000001907349px]My sensations are now totally different, like something has been severed, like something is missing, not connected. My orgasms feel different too. Even my nipples feel different.[/]
[= 12.8000001907349px]It takes time to get used to this "new" body. In my case, for example, my entire abdomen hurts all the time and I cannot stand preassure in that area... But my sides have become more responsive.[/]
[= 12.8000001907349px]

[= 12.8000001907349px]I would love to sue the bastard, and according to the anesthesiologist, I have grounds to. The problem is that in Spain doctors are protected by the law. I'd have to sue the town, the hospital, the entire surgical team and the GY at the same time and I just can't afford that.[/]
So please, please, please, be very careful. Surgery is never as "simple" as surgeons say. Many doctors know nothing about women and sex seems not to be part of the equation when it comes to women and surgery.
Thanks for this wonderful website. There is so much power in it.

I'm sorry

Fri, 01/06/2017 - 06:23
Nlburgess (not verified)

I had a complete hysterectomy about 5 years ago.  The VA did it for me. I was lucky enough to find a doctor that would finally take everything out. I had been in pain for so many years, but had no chance of ever having children. I have found that my clit only has sensitive spots on my left side. It takes me longer and longer to get off. Sadly there's times, I  give up on myself.  I  used to be able to get it done in less than 5, but not in the last few months.  The older I get, I have a feeling the worse it will get. Wish you luck.

My hysterectomy story is a little different

Tue, 07/18/2017 - 23:37
qotu (not verified)

I had a total hysterectomy/oophorectomy, including taking the cervix. This was a prophylactic measure, as my mother had ovarian cancer, a sister had breast cancer before age 30, and we are of Ashkenazic Jewish background.

I tried masturbating about four weeks post-op and had an absolutely mind-bending orgasm.  Direct clitoral stimulation has been more annoying than stimulating to me; I resond to pressure and attention paid to my mons and my lower abdomen. These mind-benders happened about a decade and a half ago. Now I have "nice", i.e. tamer,  orgasms, about one or two a week. Too often gives dimishing returns—absence makes the heart grow fonder? I think for me, there needs to be a period of rebound, and this may explain the mind-benders, that my anatomy being altered made for a new neuromuscular experience.

Or sexuality is an amzing thing.  A vulva is the perfect meeting place of bone, muscle, cartilage, nerves, and headspace. We are exquisite!