Date of Award

Summer 1989

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Hysterectomy-oophorectomy is the second most commonly performed surgery in the United States (Rosenberg, 1988) and affects female identity, sexuality, and has unique medical, social and emotional significance to women and others in their lives. Many women have difficulty becoming sexually aroused and reaching orgasm after this surgery and have been counseled "it's all in your head" or as being psychogenic in origin. Zussman, Zussman, Sunley and Bjornson (1981) examined the psychogenic theory of decreased sexual 'response in post-hysterectomyoophorectomy women and found it was no longer acceptable in view of the new knowledge on the physiology of female sexuality. Hormonal changes, including ovarian androgens (Sherwin & Gelfand, 1987) and anatomical changes such as shortening of the vagina and removal of the cervix-uterus as a trigger for orgasms (Kilkku, Gronroos, Hirvonen & Rauramol, 1983) may be factors related to diminished sexual response. Other studies have examined women's psychosocial state following hysterectomy-oophorectomy (Webb & Willson-Barnett, 1983; Stanfil, 1982; Kuczynski, Wright & Bean, 1987), but a relationship between the meaning and effects of this surgery to women's sexuality has not been identified. The purpose of this essay is to describe the psychosocial and physiologic changes following hysterectomy-oophorectomy that affect female sexual response and to discuss implications for nursing practice, education and research.



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