Did a hysterectomy shift her libido into overdrive? Now that a wandering husband has returned, should his wife boost her intimate exercises? Sexploration answers your queries. Got a question? E-mail us.
Q: I am a 41-year-young woman who had a vaginal hysterectomy of the uterus only about six months ago. Since then I crave sex 24/7. I have always enjoyed sex as much as the next person, but now it is all I think, dream, and desire. What happened? Am I peaking or did the procedure turn me into a fiend?
Believe it or not, it’s possible it might be the operation, because you might enjoy sex more now than you did before. You don’t say why you needed surgery, but if you had pain or discomfort in your pelvic region, sex might be better now. According to a 2007 review of all the available research by Dr. Jan Shifren and colleagues at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, surgery is often a boon for the bedroom.
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“The majority of research on the effects of surgical menopause shows improved psychological well-being and sexual function after hysterectomy for benign disease,” the researchers write.
A 2003 Dutch study of 413 women who were patients in 13 hospitals across the Netherlands showed that “sexual pleasure improves after vaginal hysterectomy, subtotal abdominal hysterectomy, and total abdominal hysterectomy.” Nobody says for sure that the surgery tuned you into a sex maniac. If you’re bothered by your new urge, ask your doctor. We here at Sexploration suggest you just enjoy it.
Q: I am a 60-year-old woman. My husband and I recently separated because of his infidelity. We are [trying] to patch things up. My question: I feel so inadequate because I know when we have intercourse, I cannot squeeze his penis hard enough with my vagina. Is there a remedy for this problem? I try Kegel exercises daily, but they don’t seem to make any difference. I feel incapable of giving him joy, and don't know what to do.
Boy, I hope you don’t think muscle tone is responsible for your husband’s wandering. Husbands don’t cheat just because they miss a snug fit. If that’s what he said, you might want to reconsider the reconciliation.
Kegels, or pelvic floor exercises, are the right call. Sometimes women think they’re doing them correctly, but aren’t. So ask your ob-gyn, or a uro-gynecologist to explain how. Are you doing them often enough? Do at least 12 contractions 3 to 6 times every day. Test how effective they are by interrupting the flow of urine when you pee.
If you’re a Kegel pro, and they just aren’t helping, ask your doctor about using heavy balls or so-called “vaginal cones” — weight lifting for your vagina. Arrgh! Or ask if a technique called pelvic floor electrical stimulation can whip that muscle back into shape. Studies have shown both to be effective, though pelvic floor exercises are still generally considered the best option. By the way, losing weight has helped, too.
A few women have started having surgery for so-called “vaginal rejuvenation.” Saying this is controversial is an understatement. Some women — and their surgeons — swear by it. But the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists stated in 2007 that “these procedures are not medically indicated, and the safety and effectiveness of these procedures have not been documented.” A 2006 study of 53 women in Chile showed that a surgery called colpoperineoplasty “seems to improve symptoms and enhance sexual gratification in a majority of the women.”
But before you do anything drastic, remember that vaginal intercourse is not the only way to “give him joy.” Manual, oral, anal and sex toys like masturbator sleeves can provide a tighter fit than any vagina. Expand the menu. How sexually satisfied are you? Is he as worried about pleasing you as you are about pleasing him? Remember, you’re just as entitled to joy as he is.
Q: Whatever happened with PT-141?
It died. As I wrote in this column PT-141, or bremelanotide, produced by a company called Palatin Technologies, promised to raise your libido, your erection, and give you a tan all at the same time. What a moneymaker! But it also raised blood pressure and feeling horny and erect won’t do you much good if you’re having a stroke. Naturally, some people are creating an illicit market for the stuff via online sales, supposedly of product made in China, the land of melamine in baby formula, lead paint on toys, and killer drugs.
Brian Alexander is the author of the book “America Unzipped: In Search of Sex and Satisfaction," now in paperback.