Hysterectomy Interview With Lesa - Pain With Periods & Sex

Hysterectomy and Young Women

Interview with Lesa Thayer, a married 45-year-old mother of three children, ages 22, 24, 26 from Fruita, Colorado. Formerly a manager of services for people with disabilities, Lesa is currently on medical leave and is exploring new career options. 

Two women laughing with each other
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How old were you at the time of surgery?

Lesa: 29

Why was surgery recommended for you?

Lesa: Lower abdominal pain, especially with periods and sexual activity.

What kind of symptoms were you experiencing?

Lesa: Cramping, pain, heavy periods.

Were any alternatives to a hysterectomy offered?

Lesa: No

Did you feel like you were being “pushed” toward a hysterectomy?

Lesa: Not really. I was glad to have an option to lessen the pain.

Did your surgeon discuss the option to retain your ovaries, so that menopause would happen naturally, rather than immediately after surgery?

Lesa: He said he would look at the ovaries. I wanted them out, too. I woke up to find they left one. I was not happy. At age 42, I had the last remaining ovary out due to pain and cysts. It was not working all that well, and I had to be on HRT since age 29 anyway.

If your ovaries were removed, were you well-prepared by your physician for menopause to begin during your recovery?

Lesa: No. I was told they left the right ovary to eliminate the need for HRT. But I started having hot flashes and decided to go on HRT within a few weeks.

Were any therapies, such as hormone replacement therapy, offered to help minimize the effects of menopause?

Lesa: Yes, when I started having hot flashes. At age 45 I got very ill and ended up in the hospital and started having 10 to 20 hot flashes a day. I finally got better enough to go to my regular doctor, and he increased and doubled my HRT dose, which solved the hot flashes.

How did you cope with entering menopause so abruptly?

Lesa: I had the hot flashes, dryness, lack of sexual interest beginning in the summer of 2008. It was awful. I asked to have my dose increased.

Can you tell us about your recovery from surgery?

Lesa: As soon as I started the doubled dose in Jan 2009, it got better in a couple days. I recovered quickly from the hysterectomy; they gave me a pain block and I went home in a couple days. Then I had the ovary out and could not get good pain control. That was miserable.

I found I could not take the opiates, and no other pain options were given. My (female) doctor’s advice was to take ibuprofen and deal with it the best I could.

Did you worry that you would feel less womanly or sexy due to the surgery?

Lesa: At first, yes. I also felt like I could no longer have babies, should I decide to later, but I dealt with that. I do have dreams about being pregnant or nursing a baby still at age 45.

Did you worry that having a hysterectomy would alter your sex life?

Lesa: A little. But I knew I could no longer have sex the way I was feeling and in pain. I was so surprised that my libido went up and sex was great after the surgery.

Did the hysterectomy improve your symptoms?

Lesa: Yes, for many years until I had the cyst.

How is life after hysterectomy?

Lesa: Great. I can have sex and not have to worry about periods or pain or birth control. I can come and go and be active without pain or worrying about starting my period. Before, I once went rafting and [my period] started. What a bad day to be stuck on the river with no tampons. I got in the water a lot.

If you could make the decision over again, what, if anything, would you do differently?

Lesa: I wish they would have taken the last ovary so I would not have had to have another surgery to have it out.

If a good friend was considering a hysterectomy, what advice would you offer?

Lesa: Go for it. [It was the] best thing that ever happened to me. No sense being miserable. I loved the pain block I was given.

What do you wish you had known before surgery that you now know?

Lesa: Better pain control on second surgery. I now can take Tramadol for pain, and it helps versus opiates.

A Word From Verywell

The decision to have a hysterectomy is an intensely personal one, and should not be taken lightly. While the hysterectomy procedure is one of the most common surgeries performed today, it is still a serious procedure with lifelong consequences including the potential need for hormone therapy and the inability to become pregnant. Those issues, along with the risks associated with anesthesia and the surgical procedure, are significant and should be part of your discussion with your surgeon.

Editor's Note: This is a personal account of this individual's experience. Your experience with hysterectomy may be different, and the decision to opt for surgery is something that should be based on your particular situation and doctor's advice.

By Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FN
Jennifer Whitlock, RN, MSN, FNP-C, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She has experience in primary care and hospital medicine.