Feeling that you're 'a woman trapped in a man's body' can make the person extremely unhappy. But surgery is regarded in these cases with a great deal of reserve by the medical community, as long term studies about the results on the life of the patients are inexistent. Amid the controversy, a new research shows that male to female sex-change patients are happy with the results, although post-surgery complications do not miss, even 3 years after.
The team from the Departments of Urology and Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, UK, investigated the initial effects
on 222 patients who had undergone surgery. 70 could be monitored for follow-ups.
At the first post-surgery clinic visit, 88 % of the patients were happy with the results, 7% were unhappy and 5% in between. All the subjects had had their penis amputated, their urethra relocated and female labia created. 93% got a clitoris made by a section of the penis' glans and 91 % a skin-lined vagina.
"The outcome of this complex surgery depends on a number of factors. These include the technical experience of the surgeon, the amount and quality of tissue that each patient has available for reconstruction and, most importantly, the realistic expectations of the patients themselves." said lead author Jonathan C Goddard, urology registrar.
"One of the biggest problems with research of this nature is that many patients are difficult to contact. Having gone through a two-year real-life test before extensive surgery, which can include breast as well as genital construction, many want to start a new life and compartmentalize their past. This can include moving to a new area."
The team managed to contact 70 of those operated at the hospital between 1994 and 2004, aged 19 to 76, with a mean age of 43. The majority had been operated about three years earlier. 91 % got a clitoris and 89 % a vagina. 23 % of the subjects had, or were having, regular intercourse and 61 % were pleased with their vagina depth.
98 % possessed a sensitive clitoris and 48 % experienced orgasm. 14 % were hypersensitive but none had chosen to remove their clitoris. 29 % had problems with the vaginal hair growth, 6 % experienced vaginal prolapse and 3 % vaginal necrosis (tissue death).
27 % of the subjects experienced urinary problems, most of them requiring another operation. "Despite these problems, which were mainly minor and easily corrected by secondary surgery, 76 % of the patients who provided detailed feedback were happy with the cosmetic result of their surgery and 80 % said the surgery had met their expectations", said Goddard.