Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and Happiness

Caitlyn Jenner
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People who undergo sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) intent on transitioning from man to woman are generally pretty happy—with a whopping 96 percent wanting even more surgery. This statistic can be considered reassuring for both people interested in surgery and health care providers alike.

Although several studies have examined SRS outcomes, few have been done in the United States. Instead, Europeans have done much of the research specifically regarding satisfaction after SRS. Overall, the healthcare system in the United States is lagging in the attention paid to SRS and other transgender health care, including counseling.

Limitations of SRS Research

The research on this subject, albeit well done, suffers from a couple of major limitations.

The first limitation is that studies are low power and involve a small number of participants. In scientific terms, studies with only a few participants have "small sample sizes." Nevertheless, such studies can still yield statistically significant results. Moreover, the global prevalence or a worldwide number of transgender people is small, with a highest-end estimate of only one in 11,900 male-to-female individuals and one in 30,400 female-to-male individuals. In other words, it can be hard to find participants in the first place.

Another limitation of SRS research is "sampling bias." In other words, the studies don't test a wide range of participants. For example, researchers often distribute questionnaires, and sometimes only half of those who had undergone SRS responded, which means a lot of different types of people—representative of the population as a whole—aren't assessed.

Research on SRS

The research overwhelmingly suggests that a healthy majority of male-to-female patients are pleased with SRS, and, as already mentioned, many would opt to have it done again. Moreover, orgasm is achievable for the vast majority of these people.

Here are some of my more notable findings based on a small, informal review of research done on male-to-female SRS:

  • More than 90 percent of people who have undergone SRS claim to be generally satisfied with the procedure.
  • A majority of people who undergo SRS experience improved quality of life measures.
  • Seventy-eight percent of the participants are satisfied with the aesthetic appearance of their new genitalia.
  • Between 56 and 84 percent of participants are happy with the functioning of their new genitalia.
  • About 82 percent of participants could achieve orgasm during both masturbation and sexual intercourse.
  • Orgasm is experienced differently after surgery. Specifically, orgasms tend to be shorter and more intense in male-to-female patients.
  • In many, sexual activity increased after surgery including vaginal intercourse.
  • Some people who had SRS complain of pain after the procedure.
  • Researchers suggest that people with SRS receive psychological support after the procedure.

From a medical perspective, the findings above are highly encouraging. It's possible that many other surgeries that are non-sexual in nature often fail to boast such high levels of contentment—let alone an overwhelming desire to go through surgery again. The success of SRS is a real testimonial to our advances in plastic surgery.

Despite advances in the engineering of sex reassignment surgery, however, organized psychological support for this patient population is deficient. For example, the United States not only fails to fund such research but also fails to provide a reliable and dependable health care infrastructure to provide such treatment.

Challenges for SRS

One definite shift that must occur in the American consciousness in order to better embrace and empathize with transgender issues revolves around perceived need. Many Americans fail to assess that people who desire SRS and hormone therapy need it, too. Sadly, many insurers don't cover such procedures either.

Oftentimes, the only exposure that many people have to SRS is through the media—when celebrities—most notably, Caitlyn Jenner—have the surgery done. Many celebrities can afford to have these procedures done in the finest healthcare settings. They can also afford the requisite psychological counseling and support that must accompany any such procedure.

Unfortunately, not everybody is wealthy enough to undergo SRS procedures, which are now often done abroad and out-of-pocket. Even if some people are able to save enough money to fly to Bangkok or Europe for such surgery, there would likely be little money left over for robust follow-up and psychological support and monitoring—integral parts of the process.

If you or someone you love is considering SRS, please carefully consider your approach. Keep in mind that SRS is an involved process that requires the care, counseling, and support of many professionals. In addition to a physical component, there's a huge psychological component that must be addressed, too.

A Word From Verywell

Although results indicating that many people who have had this surgery are happy, we must appreciate these findings in perspective. There's definitely an ideal fashion in which to have SRS surgery done, with the support of compassionate and experienced health care professionals as well as loving family and friends ideal.

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Article Sources

  • Hess J. Satisfaction With Male-to-Female Gender Reassignment Surgery Results of a Retrospective Analysis. Deutsches Ärzteblatt International. 2014.
  • Wierks K. Quality of Life and Sexual Health after Sex Reassignment Surgery in Transsexual Men. International Society for Sexual Medicine. 2011.