One of the first studies of the side effects of transgender surgery revealed alarmingly high rates of post-op pain, pain during intercourse and bladder problems, raising worrisome questions for this new frontier in medicine.
A vast majority — 81 percent — of those who had genital surgery in the past five years said they endured pain from moving around in the weeks and months after going under the knife.
Researchers at the University of Florida and Brooks Rehabilitation, a health nonprofit, have shown that more than half of trans surgery patients experience pain during sex, and about a third cannot control their bladder.
UF physiotherapy professor Dr. Meryl Alapattu said she would release her report later this year, but released the provisional results in a private online workshop that DailyMail.com was able to attend.
Dr. Meryl Alaptu (left), a UF physiotherapy professor, and Dr. Alexandra Hill, a UF specialist in pelvic problems, support trans surgery despite its flaws.
DailyMail.com was able to see the preliminary results of a medical report expected later this year
‘Muscle pain, difficulty moving and a high percentage of pelvic floor dysfunction have been reported,’ said Dr Alapattu, a poorly-understood area that needs more research.
‘We still have a lot of work to do in terms of getting data on the effectiveness of this type of treatment.’
Surgically altering male and female genitalia to match the opposite sex—known as vaginoplasty and phalloplasty—is widely understood to be a difficult and problematic procedure.
Women who transition to men can choose to create a penis from tissue extracted from their arms, although this procedure is also complicated, and the result is still distinctly different from a biological sex.
Should your state ban ‘gender-affirming care’ for children?
Yes 21777 votes No 1000 votes Not sure 596 votes
Breast removal in female-to-male transitioners is easy, but can cause problems such as pain, infection, and suture rupture, especially in overweight patients.
Methods are a hot-button issue in America’s culture wars, especially on children.
UF researchers studied 21 trans and non-binary people ages 20 to 70 who had undergone trans surgery—mostly mastectomies and vaginoplasties—in the past five years.
81 percent endured pain in their lower abdomen, groin, pelvis, chest or shoulder weeks, months or even years after their procedure, the researchers found.
Another 57 percent find intercourse painful.
Meanwhile, 29 percent suffered from urinary incontinence or a frequent and urgent need to go to the bathroom, the researchers found.
In all, only a quarter saw a physiotherapist to overcome their problems.
Doctors are just beginning to understand all the consequences of gender reassignment surgery
Jazz Jennings, a trans YouTube influencer, needs a second gender surgery after an unexpected complication
Jennings’ genital overhaul was more difficult than most because she had been on hormone blockers for so long. Photo: Impressive before her first surgery
Dr Alapattu said physiotherapy could repair some damage, but more research was needed on the recovery time and long-term effects of trans surgery.
Dr. Alexandra Hill, a UF specialist in pelvic problems, describes trans patients being amazed by their long-lasting recovery, which in some cases lasted longer than their expected 6-8 weeks.
‘Sometimes it takes longer than initially expected for people to get back to doing the things they love to do,’ Dr Hill told the online gathering.
Similarly, many male-to-female converters who undergo a neo-vagina are surprised to discover that they have to insert a ‘dilator’ into their canal for up to an hour every day after surgery.
Without the use of a dilator, which is like a sex toy, the Neo-Vagina can be slowly and deeply shortened, Dr. Hill said. Some trans women have to use it for the rest of their lives.
‘It’s something that a lot of people don’t understand,’ he added.
Sex-reassignment operations, such as in France, are fraught with difficulty
A survey of more than 500 transgender adults by The Washington Post and KFF, a health-focused nonprofit, revealed that surgery was rare.
Proponents of trans medicine present the surgeries as a trade-off, admitting significant drawbacks, but saying it’s important for those with serious discomfort in their own bodies.
Yet, they are rare in the transgender community.
According to research by the Washington Post and KFF, a health charity, of the estimated 1.6 million trans and non-binary Americans age 13 and older, only 31 percent take cross-sex hormones and 16 percent opt for surgery.
Most surgeries are breast removal for female-to-male transitioners.
Genital surgery is rare and controversial. Even the World Professional Association for Transgender Health, which advocates for gender-affirming care worldwide, says the procedure should not be attempted on children.
Critics warn that aggressive, heavy-duty methods on young people who are still physically developing can set them up for lifelong dysfunction.
A phalloplasty procedure, as described in a medical text book
Jazz Jennings, a transgender girl, suffered from a torn vagina after undergoing gender reassignment surgery when she was just 16.
Experts warn that young men may have insufficient skin on the penis or scrotum, which can contribute to so-called neo-vaginal formation.
The problem is worse for children taking puberty blockers, because their privates are less developed and the surgeon has less material to work with.
Gender reassignment surgeries can prevent recipients from being able to have any form of sexual pleasure as adults, if the surgery is performed before the patients genitalia are fully formed.
Republicans have tried to ban gender-affirming drugs and surgery for children and even some adults in about 20 states this year.