Having genital surgery changes the way you have sex, and maybe how you experience sex as well. You have to discover all over again how your body works sexually. Your sensitive spots remain intact and often you can still have an orgasm.
Neo-vagina and neo-penis
You will get a vagina, a penis or a mini penis, also called a micro-penis. These are called neo-vagina or neo-penis. ‘Neo’ means new. A neo-vagina or neo-penis looks almost the same as the penis or vagina of people who are not transgender. Your future penis or vagina will also feel and work in more or less the same way. But there are differences:
- You cannot ejaculate with a neo-penis.
- A neo-vagina produces very little or no moisture, so you need to use a lubricant for sex.
Two types of penises
Trans boys or men who want a penis operation can choose between two types of penis surgery. One is called ‘metoidioplasty’, the other ‘phalloplasty’. With a ‘meto’, your clitoris is transformed into a mini penis that retains a lot of sexual feeling. With a ‘phallo’, you get a penis of normal dimensions, using skin tissue from your arm, leg or abdomen’. With a ‘phallo’, your clitoris is ‘concealed’ in the shaft of your penis.
After your operation, you still have sexy spots on your genitals. The nerve endings in your sensitive spots, the clitoris or the glans, actually remain intact. (With phallo surgery on trans males, the hotspots are in an unexpected place: on the shaft of the penis.) Stimulating these spots when you're in the mood for sex and are already slightly turned on, produces a great feeling. Often you can have an orgasm as well. The orgasm does sometimes feel different to how it did before.
Can you enjoy sex?
Whether you can enjoy sex after surgery is a complicated question. It doesn’t depend purely on the nerve endings and sexy spots, it also depends on you and how you feel. Are you happy with yourself and with your body? Can you relax? When you make love to someone else: do you feel comfortable with this person? Do you really like the other person?
You also have to practise and try it out to discover how your sexy spots work. For example:
- Do you enjoy forceful or gentle stroking? Kneading? Circular movements?
- Do you like using sex toys?
- Do you use a lubricant? Which type do you prefer?
- Does fantasising about something during sex turn you on?
To be able to have good sex with someone else, it helps when you know how your own body works. So masturbate a lot! It is often easier to have an orgasm when you play with yourself, than when you make love to someone else. This is completely normal.
After surgery, it takes a while for everything to recover. At first it looks a bit ’strange’: it's swollen up and the stitches are still in. The complete recovery of your vagina or penis takes at least 3 months, usually even longer. You have to adjust to your body, before it’s completely yours. Take your time and explore.
Are you not completely satisfied with the result? Maybe something can be done about that. Many transgender people undergo another minor intervention afterwards; corrective surgery to remedy minor inconveniences.
Not everything can be changed. As a trans male, for example, you will never ejaculate with your own penis. This might make you feel sad sometimes, and less able to really enjoy sex.
- Remember, all boys and men are different, including those who are not transgender. Not being able to ejaculate with your penis does not mean you are not a ‘real man’. It does mean you have an unusual past. There's nothing wrong with that.
- The same applies to trans girls of course. Girls and women are all different. That your vagina isn't able to get moist does not mean you are not a ‘real woman’. You are just a girl or woman with an unusual past.
- Does it continue to bother you? Have a talk with a care worker.
Certain operations are more likely to have complications. This means that something went wrong during surgery or during recovery. If this happens to you, it can take longer before you’re completely happy with your body, or it may be difficult to enjoy sex. It a good idea to seek help with it.
Help with choosing
For some transgender people it's as clear as can be: they want gender reassignment surgery (a sex-change operation). This is more difficult for others. That's why at the gender clinic they help you to make a choice. Besides the gender clinic, you can also talk to other transgender people or a care worker. They can't give you medical details, but they can help you with the practical and emotional side of things. More on seeking help.