Hysterectomy and Sexual Arousal

Approximately 25-50 percent of women experience adverse sexual symptoms following hysterectomy surgery. Hysterectomy could feasibly affect the pelvic autonomic nerves through excision of the cervix and separation of the uterus from the cardinal and uterosacral ligaments. If sexual arousal processes are negatively impacted by hysterectomy surgery, and this is associated with impaired autonomic innervation, differences between women who have and have not undergone hysterectomy would be expected to emerge under conditions of heightened autonomic arousal. To examine this hypothesis, I conducted a study (Meston, 2004) that compared sexual arousal responses between women who had undergone hysterectomy for the treatment of benign uterine fibroids with non-hysterectomized women with a history of benign uterine fibroids under conditions of baseline and heightened SNS activation. The study was the first to document significant differences in physiological sexual arousal responses between women who had and had not undergone hysterectomy. In addition to this study, my lab has published two reviews on the impact of hysterectomy on sexual function (Meston & Bradford, 2004; Bradford & Meston, 2006), and one study (Bradford & Meston, 2007) that examined the impact of pre-surgery education about the sexual consequences of hysterectomy on post-surgery satisfaction with hysterectomy.

Recommended papers:

Meston, C. M., & Bradford, A. (2004). A brief review of the factors influencing sexuality after hysterectomy. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 19(1), 5-14. PDF (744 KB)

Meston, C. M. (2004). The effects of hysterectomy on sexual arousal in women with a history of benign uterine fibroids. Archives of Sexual Behavior33(1), 31-42. PDF (308 KB)