Thirteen Years and Counting
AUGUST 1, 2011
In December, 2004, I stood in front of the FDA in Washington D.C. It was for a hearing for a drug in clinical trials that addressed low libido for women whose ovaries were removed.
"The Hyster Sisters have sent me….to share their stories.
"Many members recover from their surgery and head back into their lives without much fanfare. For others, they return to our website, months or even years later in search of additional support for new health issues. Predominantly, they return in search of support for hormone therapy…. many complaining of a missing libido.
"And while we have thousands of personal posts from frustrated members regarding their loss of desire, time constraints allow me to share only a few!"
I represented HysterSisters.com to them, sharing stories of members who struggle. I recognized then what I know today: women who have gone through a hysterectomy and oophorectomy are often challenged with low desire.
Although I came home from that trip discouraged for the moment, I was encouraged, too. I hoped that other companies would step up with other hormone therapies for the HysterSisters. And, I hoped that sharing our stories would help the medical community know that this is a real post-hysterectomy experience for many women.
In this month's issue, we've included some information about low desire and other intimacy challenges that typically affect women after a hysterectomy and during menopause.
This month, we also find another milestone for HysterSisters.com as it turns 13 years old. I have loved being here at the helm, day in and day out, representing HysterSisters everywhere.
P.S. We've set up a Happy Birthday Card forum for you to share your greetings to help us celebrate the best women on the internet - the HysterSisters!
Here's to happiness for you,
Distressed Over Missing Desire
AUGUST 1, 2011
It would be a wonderful ending to every woman's hysterectomy if a fairy tale ending was hers. You know: "And she lived happily ever after." Sadly, there are struggles that many women gain through their hysterectomy and oophorectomy experiences that they didn't expect.
One such surprise is the loss of desire.
There are many cruel things about this surgery "complication." First, most women experience a heightened sense of libido during the initial few weeks following surgery. And then, months later, they may report that their desire is weakened or missing completely.
Distress sets in. Anxiety follows. Depression is the caboose.
If you are post-hysterectomy, post-oophorectomy, and are struggling with a weakened or loss of libido, there are some things you can do:
Talk to your doctor.
Arm yourself with questions, dialogue starters, and articles, concerns and make an appointment with your doctor. If your doctor does not take your concerns seriously and provides some direct help for your missing libido, make an appointment with another doctor. Keep "interviewing" doctors until you find one who understands and helps you.
Focus on you and your health
If you discover you are struggling with depression and anxiety over this topic, make sure you move your health to the top of your priority list. Exercise. Eat right. Drink plenty of water. Get plenty of rest. Find ways to add your favorite pastimes into your week. Give yourself things to look forward to that you enjoy.
Give yourself a break
You have done nothing wrong. This is not your fault. Do not heap self-judgement on your own shoulders.
Talk to other women who struggle with a similar issue. Find women who have struggled and found answers that worked for them. The HysterSisters Sexual Dysfunction Forum is available for reading and for posting to all women who are at least six months post-hysterectomy. You will find other women who are dealing with a loss of libido and many are finding help from various sources. There is hope. Grab hope where you can.
What's Up Down There
AUGUST 1, 2011
It may not be something we feel like chatting about—with our doctors or anyone else—but vaginal dryness, and the discomfort that can come with it, is a common symptom of menopause.
Vaginal dryness is one of the results of our bodies creating less estrogen. It can lead to itching, burning, and irritation in and around the vagina. Along with dryness, vaginal atrophy—a narrowing and shortening of the vagina—can occur. Vaginal dryness and atrophy can get worse over time, so it's important to talk with your doctor about a treatment. Don't be shy about it, because you're not alone, and healthcare providers are ready to talk with you.
If you have moderate to severe vaginal dryness and hot flashes associated with menopause, your healthcare provider may recommend hormone replacement therapy. If you need treatment for vaginal dryness and atrophy only, your healthcare provider may suggest that you try topical vaginal products first.
AUGUST 1, 2011
Many women, after a hysterectomy, report concerns and frustrations about weakening orgasms. Often, right after surgery, women report an increase in libido, desire, and the ability to orgasm which feels similar to the their pre-hysterectomy lives. And with this early "success," they believe that all is well!
Yet over time, a decrease in desire can become a problem, along with weakened orgasms or worse - the inability to orgasm at all.
The loss or weakening of orgasm is generally linked to the loss of the uterus which contracts during orgasm. Without the uterus, the loss of contractions weakens the orgasm. Additionally, the loss of blood flow to the pelvic area also diminishes the orgasmic experience.
Many doctors may add insult to the situation by telling you that the loss of sexual enjoyment (both loss of desire and ability to orgasm) is "in your head." Most HysterSisters would respond, "Nonsense!"
There are a few things you can do.
Hormone Replacement Therapy
If you can take HRT, make sure your hormone levels are adequate. Many women find that making sure their estrogen is replaced at a normal level is enough. Other women find that adding testosterone to their hormone replacement therapy is the key to sexual desire and enjoyment. Still others add progesterone to their HRT and find a big help.
Some women find that using a vaginal estrogen cream helps to repair the vaginal tissue and helps with blood flow to the vaginal area.
Exercise - Kegels
Learning how to do Kegel pelvic floor exercises is a big help to many women. This pelvic strengthening exercise helps not only with the toning of the vagina but with the entire pelvic floor area. This ultimately helps with blood flow to your most sensitive areas.
Stop smoking and get off the couch if you find you are a couch potato. By adding general exercise to your day, you will be sending additional blood flowing to the important areas you are missing.
Talk to your Doctor
If your doctor tells you this problem is all in your head, it's time to find a more helpful and sympathetic doctor. Your doctor should listen to your concerns and talk with you about the things you have tried. They should be able to offer other suggestions, including testosterone from the compounding pharmacy.
This problem is not in your head. Make a plan of action and keep a diary to help note what works for you and what doesn't. Knowing what works for you should be helpful as more and more products become available in the future.
Talk to Your Doctor
August 1, 2011
If you find yourself distressed and concerned about your sexuality, it's important to schedule an appointment with your physician. While sexuality may not be an easy topic of discussion, it's very important. Share your struggle with your physician. Without your persistence, there can be no treatment.
Below are some ideas to consider as you prepare for that appointment.
Read books and articles to better understand what to ask your doctor.
Don’t expect your doctor to specifically ask about your concern.
Take a helpful article.
"I was reading this book/article and wondered what you thought about it."
Prepare a discussion starter.
"I was hoping that you might be able to help me with this problem I am having."
Acknowledge the subject.
Discussing sex can be embarrassing or uncomfortable but you need medical direction for treatment.
Be sure and use an accurate description of the problem and appropriate vocabulary.
"If you can't help me with this, who would you recommend?"
If you've heard of a potential treatment, provide the information to your doctor. This is especially helpful if the information is based on research and already accepted in the medical community.
Bring your spouse or a friend.
Sometimes it might help you to bring someone with you to your appointment. It can possibly help to provide support for you.
Ask for additional time.
If you find the doctor doesn't seem to have adequate time for a discussion, ask for additional time. Or ask if you need to make another appointment for a longer time slot.
After your appointment.
If you are unsatisfied with the discussion with your doctor, don't stop there. This will take effort on your part. Don't give up!
Look for a physician who will listen if you are not satisfied with the discussion during your appointment.
Ask for physician referrals.
Friends and family may have referrals for you to consider. Especially keep an ear out for friends who may struggle from similar concerns.
"Interview" several/many doctors.
It may take you several doctor appointments before you find the physician who helps you feel most comfortable and is most helpful.
From the HysterSisters Forums
AUGUST 1, 2011
Some one please help me. I had my hysterectomy in December of 2008 and they left one overy. After my surgery I had a fistula which was fixed in May of 09. Now my problem is I have absolutly NO libido and I'm hurting my great husband of 12 years. He thinks I dont find him attractive or appreciate him but I just have NO urge to do anything sexual at all. Can you help?
Join the Discussion
More Discussions to join about loss of intimacy:
Lack of desire for intimacy
Read more in our Sexual Dysfunction Forum
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MAY 1, 2010
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