Hysterectomy and painful intercourse

Painful intercourse, medically known as dyspareunia, is a common issue that many women experience at some point in their lives. After a hysterectomy many individuals will report a level of discomfort or pain with intercourse.

Understanding Hysterectomy

Before we dive into the reasons behind painful intercourse after a hysterectomy, let's clarify what a hysterectomy is. A hysterectomy is a surgical procedure in which a woman's uterus is removed. Depending on the type of hysterectomy, other reproductive organs, such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes, may also be removed. Hysterectomies are performed for various reasons, including uterine fibroids, endometriosis, pelvic pain, and gynaecological cancers.

What can cause painful intercourse after hysterectomy

  1. Scar Tissue Formation: Following a hysterectomy, the body undergoes a healing process. Scar tissue, or adhesions, can form at the surgical site, which might cause discomfort during intercourse.
  2. Reduced Vaginal Lubrication: The removal of the uterus and ovaries leads to hormonal changes that can result in reduced vaginal lubrication. Insufficient lubrication can lead to friction and discomfort during sex. Using a good quality Water Based Intimate Gel can be really helpful in reducing pain caused by reduced lubrication.
  3. Altered Pelvic Anatomy: Depending on the type of hysterectomy, the pelvic anatomy may be altered, leading to changes in the position of the vaginal canal. Often these changes mean that the vaginal canal is shorter or narrower which can make intercourse more challenging and painful. Using vaginal dilators to lengthen, stretch and desensitise the vaginal canal can really assist with improving discomfort during intercourse.
  4. Increased pelvic floor tone: due to the nature of how a hysterectomy is performed the pelvic floor can tighten after the procedure. This can reduce the relaxation of the muscles and can cause tightness, pain and trigger points within the pelvic floor muscles, which in turn can cause pain with intercourse. Using a Pelvic floor wand to reduce tone and areas of pain can be really useful in making intercourse more comfortable!
  5. Psychological Factors: The emotional and psychological impact of a hysterectomy can also contribute to painful intercourse. Anxiety, depression, and body image issues can all affect sexual function and comfort.

How can dilators help?

Dilators are one of the valuable treatment options for women experiencing painful intercourse after a hysterectomy. These devices are designed to gently stretch and expand the vaginal walls. Here's how they can help:

  1. Gradual Expansion: Dilators come in various sizes, allowing women to start with a smaller size and gradually work their way up to larger ones. This gradual process helps to stretch and lengthen the vaginal canal, reducing discomfort during intercourse.
  2. Promoting Blood Flow: Dilators encourage blood flow to the vaginal area, which can aid in tissue healing and flexibility. Increased blood circulation can also improve natural lubrication.
  3. Psychological Comfort: Using dilators can also help women become more familiar and comfortable with their bodies after surgery. This can alleviate anxiety and improve confidence in sexual activity.
  4. Maintenance of Vaginal Health: Dilator therapy can be part of a long-term strategy to maintain vaginal health and prevent further complications such as vaginal stenosis (narrowing of the vaginal canal) overtime.

Tips for Using Dilators

If you're considering using dilators to address painful intercourse after a hysterectomy, here are some tips to get started:

  1. Consult a Healthcare Provider: Before beginning dilator therapy, consult with your healthcare provider to ensure it's safe to do so.
  2. Start Slowly: Begin with the smallest dilator size and gradually progress to larger ones as you feel more comfortable.
  3. Use Lubrication: Always use a water-based gel or lubricant with dilators to reduce friction and discomfort.
  4. Relaxation Techniques: Practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and pelvic floor mobility, to ease any anxiety or tension associated with dilator use.
  5. Consistency is Key: Regular use of dilators is essential for maintaining vaginal health and reducing discomfort during intercourse.

Painful intercourse after a hysterectomy is a common issue that can significantly impact a woman's quality of life. While there are various causes, including scar tissue formation, reduced lubrication, and altered pelvic anatomy, dilators offer an effective and practical solution. By gradually stretching and conditioning the vaginal walls, women can regain comfort and confidence in their sexual lives after undergoing a hysterectomy. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best approach for your specific needs and concerns.