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Wednesday, 24 November, 1999, 02:03 GMT
Hysterectomy 'may improve sex'
A hysterectomy helps to relieve women of pain
Women who have suffered from chronic gynaecological problems may have a better sex life after having a hysterectomy, researchers have found.

Many women fear that a hysterectomy, or removal of the womb, could cause serious problems for their sex life.

This should reassure women who have opted to have the procedure but are nervous about it

Julia Rhodes, University of Maryland
But the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that women who had undergone hysterectomy found that they had a better sex drive and more orgasms.

The researchers also reported that seven per cent more women became sexually active in the 12-month period after the operation.

The team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore interviewed 1,132 women aged between 35 and 50.

They found that 77.6% of women were sexually active 12 months after undergoing surgery, compared to 70.5% before the operation.

The percentage of women experiencing painful intercourse fell from 18.6% prior to surgery to 4.3% after one year and 3.6% after two years.

'This should reassure women'

Researcher Julia Rhodes said: "This study found substantial improvements in sexual functioning after hysterectomy, significantly more women were sexually active after the procedure.

"This should reassure women who have opted to have the procedure but are nervous about it."

Dr Rhodes said the improvement was probably thanks in part to the fact that the women were no longer suffering the painful symptoms of chronic gynaecological conditions such as pelvic pain.

She said: "Although there are many plausible mechanisms that could account for the observed improvements in each aspect of sexual functioning, it is also possible that women simply feel better after hysterectomy and that sexual functioning improves along with the overall health status and quality of life."

Many women undergo hysterectomies for benign gynaecological conditions uterine fibroids, menstrual disorders, endometriosis or a prolapsed uterus.

It can be a relief

Dr Sally Hope, an Oxford GP and chairwoman of the Primary Care Gynaecology Group, said: "If a gynaecological problem is so severe that it warrants a major operation like a hysterectomy then a woman would often feel better without a womb.

"It also takes away the worry that some women may have about pregnancy and means you can enjoy yourself riotously."

However, Dr Hope said many doctors believed that sexual gratification was only possible if the cervix was not removed during surgery.

Approximately 90,000 hysterectomies are performed in the UK each year. The risk of death is one in 10,000.

The operation can be associated with short-term complications such as infection, pneumonia, septicaemia and blood clots on the legs and lungs.

In the long-term, hysterectomy can lead to premature failure of the ovaries, which turn causes premature menopause with an increased risk of heart disease.

See also:

07 May 99 | Health
Women can benefit from Viagra
19 Nov 99 | Medical notes
Female sexual dysfunction
10 Mar 99 | Health
Sex keeps you young
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