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J Minim Invasive Gynecol. 2011 May-Jun;18(3):288-95. doi: 10.1016/j.jmig.2011.01.012.

Hysterectomy improves sexual response? Addressing a crucial omission in the literature.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA. brk@psychology.rutgers.edu

Abstract

The prevailing view in the literature is that hysterectomy improves the quality of life. This is based on claims that hysterectomy alleviates pain (dyspareunia and abnormal bleeding) and improves sexual response. Because hysterectomy requires cutting the sensory nerves that supply the cervix and uterus, it is surprising that the reports of deleterious effects on sexual response are so limited. However, almost all articles that we encountered report that some of the women in the studies claim that hysterectomy is detrimental to their sexual response. It is likely that the degree to which a woman's sexual response and pleasure are affected by hysterectomy depends not only on which nerves were severed by the surgery, but also the genital regions whose stimulation the woman enjoys for eliciting sexual response. Because clitoral sensation (via pudendal and genitofemoral nerves) should not be affected by hysterectomy, this surgery would not diminish sexual response in women who prefer clitoral stimulation. However, women whose preferred source of stimulation is vaginal or cervical would be more likely to experience a decrement in sensation and consequently sexual response after hysterectomy because the nerves that innervate those organs, that is, the pelvic, hypogastric, and vagus nerves, are more likely to be damaged or severed in the course of hysterectomy. However, all published reports of the effects of hysterectomy on sexual response that we encountered fail to specify the women's preferred sources of genital stimulation. As discussed in the present review, we believe that the critical lack of information as to women's preferred sources of genital stimulation is key to accounting for the discrepancies in the literature as to whether hysterectomy improves or attenuates sexual pleasure.

Copyright © 2011 AAGL. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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