It can be especially mental. When the surgery is performed directly on a part of the physical sex system, when there is direct injury to sexual tissues, the mental aspect may even be a bigger hurdle to overcome. I can only speak about personal experiences from a male perspective, but I would suspect there are at least some similarities to the female experience.
Immediately following surgery, sex is not really part of what drives you. The discomfort removes any physical desire. I suppose some may have an emotional concern about the return of physical capability, it is a small risk with surgeries performed on areas of the body with such critical neural pathways. Personally, I will admit to a few moments of concern before my surgery. But, as has been true for all of my surgeries, once the process started, I felt I was doing the right thing to fix a real issue and any risks were actually quite small (it helps to have a good grasp of mathematics when trying to overcome irrational fears by understanding actual probabilities).
Even once home and moving around, with this particular surgery having any real form of sexual interaction with my life partner beyond a gentle touch on the hand was pretty far from my mind. The discomfort was not really that bad as surgeries go. At least so long as I did not sit for too long, or did not sit on a hard surface, did not bump into anything that jostled any part of my body anywhere near my groin, and I specifically exclude all bodily functions related to the other purpose of the primary external male sex organ from this discussion. Those other bodily functions were quite interesting when clots plugged the catheter, which was in place in the hospital. These functions remained interesting after release because of bruising to my penis and urethral sphincter from the surgical instrument and the catheter. When it was time to go, it was time to go! But oh how I did not want to go! The pain could be intense for a short while. If I did not go right then the consequence were very messy, but I knew what was coming. What a dilemma. But as with all surgeries, this is just part of the recovery, it passes. After a while the clots and bleeding stop, Well actually gradually slow down and then stop.
The sign things might be improving came the night when instead of clots I passed scabs. Did I dare hope that the tissues had healed enough to seal off? After a couple of days I was willing to think that the end might be in sight. I was still tender but not as much. Those other bodily functions were still occurring with urgency and discomfort, but not as much. And thoughts and desires for the return of sexual activity were certainly increasing. But fear for the consequences on the part of both myself and my life partner suppressed action from resuming our normal activities. Guidance from the doctors had been “use your best judgment”. In other words, “when you are ready, give it a try and if it does not hurt you are ready”. Sheesh, it takes a lot of desire to overcome being timid in the face of the possibility of setting back recovery when you are finally making progress.
But finally the day comes when the desire for closeness and let’s face it, sex, overcomes fear. Life starts to become whole again. The closeness with your my life partner becomes whole again. Your really begin to feel that you not only will recover from the surgery, but that you just may in fact experience the “improved quality of life” that both the surgeon and you primary care physician talked about. For what it is worth, both of my doctors were focused on correcting a problem with a long-standing chronic infection. Only very brief mention was made in passing of sexual effects. Mostly discussion of the extremely rare possibility of negative effects. Only one slight comment of the possibility of improved function. I am too much of a scientist to make a final conclusion based on a few observations, but both Still Here Too and I have observed the same recurring effect. Since the surgery and since overcoming the fear to resume sexual activity, it certainly seems that more than just the chronic infection situation has been improved.
Life works out sometimes. But only when both your body and mind is ready.
Is Still Here