A Longitudinal Study of Motivations Before and Psychosexual Outcomes After Genital Gender-Confirming Surgery in Transmen

Tim C van de Grift, Garry L S Pigot, Siham Boudhan, Lian Elfering, Baudewijntje P C Kreukels, Luk A C L Gijs, Marlon E Buncamper, Müjde Özer, Wouter van der Sluis, Eric J H Meuleman, Mark-Bram Bouman, Margriet G Mullender
Journal of Sexual Medicine 2017, 14 (12): 1621-1628

BACKGROUND: Genital dissatisfaction is an important reason for transmen to undergo genital gender-confirming surgery (GCS; phalloplasty or metoidioplasty). However, little is known about motives for choosing specific techniques, how transmen benefit postoperatively, and whether psychosexual outcomes improve.

AIM: To evaluate motivations for and psychosexual outcomes after GCS.

METHODS: A longitudinal study of 21 transmen at least 1 year after GCS was conducted. Participants were recruited through their surgeon. Data were collected when they applied for surgery and at least 1 year after surgery.

OUTCOMES: Data collection included semistructured questionnaires on motivations for surgery, postoperative experiences, and standardized measures of psychological symptoms, body image, self-esteem, sexuality, and quality of life (pre- and postoperative). Information on surgical complications and corrections was retrieved from medical records.

RESULTS: Most participants underwent phalloplasty with urethral lengthening using a radial forearm flap. Although problematic voiding symptoms were prevalent, many participants were satisfied with their penile function. The strongest motivations to pursue penile surgery were confirmation of one's identity (100%), enabling sexual intercourse (78%), and voiding while standing (74%). No significant differences between postoperative and reference values were observed for standardized measures. After surgery, transmen were more sexually active (masturbation and with a partner) and used their genitals more frequently during sex compared with before surgery (31-78%).

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: The present study provides input for preoperative decision making: (i) main motives for surgery include identity confirmation, voiding, and sexuality, (ii) surgery can result in more sexual activity and genital involvement during sex, although some distress can remain, but (iii) complications and voiding symptoms are prevalent.

STRENGTH AND LIMITATIONS: Study strengths include its longitudinal design and the novelty of the studied outcomes. The main limitations include the sample size and the nature of the assessment.

CONCLUSION: Counseling and decision making for GCS in transmen should be a highly personalized and interdisciplinary practice. van de Grift TC, Pigot GLS, Boudhan S, et al. A Longitudinal Study of Motivations Before and Psychosexual Outcomes After Genital Gender-Confirming Surgery in Transmen. J Sex Med 2017;14:1621-1628.

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