A recent study of transgender women found that most were satisfied with vaginoplasty procedures, according to a new study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. In addition, the new genitalia responded well to tests of sensitivity.
Vaginoplasty – the creation of a vagina – is often part of gender-affirming surgery (GAS), which aims to transition a person with gender dysphoria from the birth sex to the preferred sex. In the case of transgender women, GAS can involve the removal of male genitalia and creation of a vagina, clitoris, and labia.
One goal of GAS is to provide erogenous sensitivity to the area so that patients can enjoy intimacy and reach orgasm. However, few studies have focused on such sensitivity after vaginoplasty.
This study included data from 25 transgender women who ranged in age from 25 to 60 years. (Their average age was 41.) All of the women underwent vaginoplasty and clitoroplasty (creation of a clitoris) using the penoscrotal inversion technique. An average of 14.40 months had elapsed since surgery.
Using a special device, the researchers tested each woman’s “sensory detection thresholds” for light touch, pressure, and vibration. Measurements were taken on the new clitoris, labia, vaginal opening, and anus.
Each woman also completed a series of questionnaires concerning her overall satisfaction, sexual satisfaction before and after surgery, frequency of sexual activities and orgasm, fantasies, experiences with depression, and psychological well-being.
Overall, the women showed “good genital sensitivity.” For example, measurements of clitoral sensitivity and overall vibration were similar to those of cisgender women.
The participants had sex more often after surgery, the researchers noted. Eighty percent of the women had been able to reach orgasm at least once since their surgery. Ninety-two percent said they “never” regretted having the procedure. Most said they were satisfied with the appearance of their new genitalia. Psychological adjustment was also good.
“All in all, these results confirm the positive impact of GAS on the satisfaction, sexual functioning, and psychological well-being of [male-to-female] transgender women,” the authors wrote, adding that “participants felt good and optimistic, which, in the absence of multiple pre- and postsurgical comparisons, suggests that surgery was beneficial or at least not detrimental.”
The researchers acknowledged several limitations, including the small number of participants and the lack of a control group. They also noted that there is no “gold standard” for evaluating genital sensitivity.
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
LeBreton, Marianne, MA, et al.
“Genital Sensory Detection Thresholds and Patient Satisfaction With Vaginoplasty in Male-to-Female Transgender Women”
(Full-text. February 2017)