Sexual Pain and Urinary Incontinence Reported as Common Side Effects for Gender Reassignment Surgeries, New Report Says

Jack Hadfield

An upcoming report is expected to demonstrate that the vast majority of people who undergo sex reassignment surgeries experience chronic pain following the procedures, with others suffering more severe side effects like permanent incontinence.

The report, populated by researchers from the University of Florida and Brooks Rehabilitation, a non-profit based on health, will be published later this year. One of the study’s authors, Dr. Meryl Alappattu, a professor of physiotherapy at the University of Florida, revealed some of the findings during an online workshop this week.

Of the 21 people studied who went through sex reassignment surgeries in the last five years, 81% experienced pain in their lower back, groin area, pelvis, chest and shoulders, years after they had their surgeries. The majority of the patients surveyed had undergone a vaginoplasty, the construction of a “neo-vagina,” or a mastectomy, the cosmetic removal of the breasts.

“There is a high percentage reporting musculoskeletal pain, difficulty moving, and pelvic floor dysfunction,” Dar. Alappattu said, before noting that they needed a lot more research “in terms of getting information related to the efficacy of these types of treatments.” 

The individuals studied identified as either transgender or non-binary and were aged between 20 and 70 when they were interviewed by the researchers for the study.

Among them, 57% also found that sexual intercourse was painful since undergoing the procedures, with another 29% saying that they suffered from urinary incontinence, or a need to go to the bathroom more frequently than they did before.

Another researcher on the study, Dr. Alexandra Hill, said that those who underwent the surgeries did not expect the recovery time to be as long as it ultimately became. Dr. Hill serves as an expert on pelvic problems at the University of Florida.

Hill also revealed that many of the biological males who underwent a vaginoplasty, in which their penis was re-constructed to create a hole with the superficial appearance of a vulva, had absolutely no idea that they had to “dilate” the hole on a daily basis. The process of dilation involves inserting a rod-like object repeatedly into the “neo-vagina” in order for it to remain open as the body treats the cavity like an open wound.

Despite the findings of the report, both Drs. Alappattu and Hill are still in favor of the sex reassignment surgeries. 

Responding to the news on Twitter, the official California account for the Gays Against Groomers advocacy group noted that the report simply confirmed what they and others had been saying for a while. “Stating the fact that these surgeries are experimental is not hateful. It’s the truth.”

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