The unkindest cut of all – removal of the cervix

Some are sad. Some are horrific. And some are just plain inept. These stories started with a signature on the bottom of a consent form that gave license to remove organs and tissue believed to be contributing to the problem. The woman had her chance to ask questions but what questions can you ask if you know nothing about the operation or its effects. Of the 55,000 hysterectomies performed every year in the UK, the vast majority are ‘total’. This means that the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and cervix are removed. There may also be some shortening/scarring of the vagina and occasionally accidental damage to the bowel (due to its physical proximity to the cervix).

In France fewer hysterectomies are performed per head of population since many gynaecological problems are dealt with through less radical operations. Unlike the UK, most hysterectomies that are performed are sub-total i.e. they leave a perfectly healthy cervix in place where there are no medical reasons for its removal. As a consequence the issues of vaginal shortening or scarring don’t arise and accidental damage to the bowel is rare. But perhaps there is a more profound reason for leaving a perfectly health cervix in place. The Hysterectomy Association receives hundreds of letters about another form of damage – damage to the couple’s physical relationship. Some medical research is only now being undertaken into the effects of hysterectomy, particularly the removal of the cervix, on the intensity and even the capability of achieving orgasm. Generally, an orgasm will depend on three things, how you feel emotionally about yourself and your partner at the time, the amount and quality of foreplay and once above the ‘orgasmic threshold’ the amount and quality of clitoral stimulation. As orgasm approaches, the padded third of the vaginal barrel grips the penis and the musculature of the pelvic muscles, within which the cervix resides, go into mild spasm. This is followed by a series of rhythmic convulsive contractions occurring at one second intervals. The clenching and unclenching of the pelvic muscles is accompanied by subjective feelings of intense pleasure known as orgasm. Where the cervix is removed and the vagina shortened or scarred, there can be a considerable reduction in the orgasmic intensity for both the woman and her partner.

It has been suggested that the rationale behind total hysterectomies as opposed to sub-total is upon grounds of training, cost and/or ignorance. Can it be possible that predominately male gynecologists are ignorant of the effect that unnecessary removal of healthy organs has upon a woman’s sexuality? In one ‘Woman’s Hour’ programme, one consultant gynecologist was amazed that a 59 year old woman should be concerned about the effect of hysterectomy on her sex life, as if she should be bothered at that age!

It has been very difficult to write this article. I am aware that reading it should perhaps carry a health warning since a major indicator of the success of any major surgery is the psychological preparedness of the patient. The psychology of sexuality is even more fragile. However, I feel that the need justifies the means and risks involved so that the thousands of women considering hysterectomy can insist upon full information provision before signing the consent form.

Recommended Reading:

star buy Losing the Woman Within – £5.50. is essential reading for everyone who feels they are alone and emotional following a hysterectomy.

Recommended Resources:

24 thoughts on “The unkindest cut of all – removal of the cervix

  1. I have read so many sad things I wanted to sharel my experience. I am 45 and had a TAH and BSO in other words uterus, tubes and ovaries removed oh and cervix. This was carried out 7 weeks ago now. I went for my 6 week check last week and was told I could return to work, I am a gardener. This last week has been fantastic, I am working again, mowing lawns, lifting mower from car, digging etc etc etc. I can honestly say I feel like I never had an operation!!! I am able to have sex again which initially hurt but now great! My experience has been so positive I am over the moon.

  2. I had my uterus out 2 yeas ago and now because of abnormal paps and so much pain and bleeding I am having my cervix Re moved as well. 30 years old. Does anyone have any recommendations on the healing process? Tight or lose clothing or things to avoid or do? Please help! Thanks 🙂

  3. I have endometrial hyperplasia with atypical and advised to have a full hysterectomy, I am 57 and post menopausal, I have no symptoms just a light bleed I do not want this surgery but am being given every scare possible about these pre cancerous cells and the risk anyone gone through the same and managed to avoid this butchery

    1. Don’t be rushed into anything. You do Not need a Total Hysterectomy unless you have not had smears ( pre cancerous cells are picked up) or you actually have Ovarian Cancer. I have a large fibroid and I refused it altogether due to the consent form allowing him to remove healthy organs for cancer prevention which I was not willing to do. Also I just didn’t think it was necessary and I had a UFE done there is loads online about what I had done

      Don’t be pushed by a Gynocolgist they think women over a certain age should not be having sex so therefore don’t need their cervix and ovaries.

  4. I felt I should comment after a friend saw this site and was scared. I had a full hysterectomy in 2008 (except I stil have one ovary) I was 46 married and scared. I had the best doctor who had also delivered one of my kids. I was suffering from fibroids and heavy bleeding. Yes, it was painful and took about 3-6 months to get back to 100%. I got my sex drive back and it was great because no periods, no cramps, and no pain. I did get divorced in 2012 by not due to that. I have had 2 boyfriends since, and the sex was and is great!! To those of you that are afraid, don’t be! Everyone is different and my doctor had told me that too. You have to stay patient, positive, and remember to give yourself time to heal.

  5. I’m 55 yrs old and had a partial hysterectomy 3yrs ago and sex is great when i get it and very horny when i don’t, my sex life seems to get more higher as i get more seasoned in age

    1. Im 55 yrs old i have 8cm cyst which requires a hysterectomy due to firbroids Due to this hysterectomy she telling me to remove my cer vic do suggest I do that since ur my age.

  6. I’ve had the most wonderful orgasms since having my hysterectomy in 1999.

  7. I’m 12 weeks post surgery, having had ovaries, uterus and cervix removed and my bladder dissected in 2 places. I suffered for years with ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids, adenomyosis, endometriosis, flooding periods and anaemia. I felt so much better just 3 days post surgery and managed pain relief with paracetamol only. I feel like I have a better life than pre surgery. I can exercise, dance, walk, go out without needing to no more than 30 mins away from the loo. My healing has been remarkably quick – all down to an amazing surgeon. My sex life is 100 times better and orgasms are back to the intensity that they were in my 20s. I feel truly blessed with my new lease of life and only wish I’d had the op done sooner!

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