May 23, 2000.
By Theresa Tamkins
Although most women can achieve orgasm by clitoral stimulation, a new survey suggests that many older women also experience orgasm with stimulation of the vagina or cervix, according to a Pennsylvania researcher.
This finding suggests that women who undergo hysterectomy (click for more details) may lose at least some of their sexual sensation after surgery--although they seem to have orgasms as often as women who have not had a hysterectomy, reported Dr. Winnifred Cutler here on Monday at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists meeting.
What's more, the study results appear to counter previous studies that suggested hysterectomy doesn't hurt--and may even enhance--a woman's sex life, she said.
"Our ultimate goal of the study is to understand the role of the uterus in human sexual response because one in two American women (has a) hysterectomy," said Cutler, who is the founder of the Athena Institute for Women's Wellness (click for bio), a research facility based in Chester Springs, which focuses on relationships between behavior and physiology.
"If the uterus has a role to play in sexual response that's very important information for both gynecologists and American women to know about," she told Reuters Health.
In a survey of 110 women with an average age of 48 who had not undergone hysterectomy, 82% reported that clitoral stimulation contributed to orgasm, 39% said vaginal stimulation did and 17% said cervical stimulation did. In a group of women the same age who had undergone hysterectomy 6 months to 20 years prior to the survey, 86% said clitoral stimulation played a role in orgasm, 19% said vaginal stimulation was important and 10% cited cervical stimulation.
Cutler noted that vaginal stimulation and cervical stimulation are two separate sensations that have been found in both human and animal studies, but that most women would think of cervical stimulation as 'deep thrusting.' When women have a hysterectomy, the cervix--the opening to the uterus--is usually surgically removed.
Sixty-one percent of both groups of women said they had frequent orgasms, Cutler said.
"Our data are showing that what is probably happening is hysterectomy doesn't affect clitoral orgasms, the woman still feels clitoral orgasms but it does affect the richness of the sexual response," Cutler told Reuters Health.
Past studies in which women were interviewed shortly before hysterectomy, and then after the surgery, showed that women's sex life improved after the procedure. This led some researchers to conclude that the surgery had little impact on sex life and might even help it. However, the survey suggested that women were less likely to be sexually active before surgery, thus biasing past studies, she said.
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