“Sexual pleasure is preserved” – We were the first in Finland to describe a sex-corrected surgery

We were the first in Finland to follow up on a gender correction surgery at Töölö Hospital, where Tiia Kovanen, the father of three children, was already waiting on the operating table.

  • I felt I had to do something for myself or else I would collapse. I’ve been waiting for this a long time, so this is a delicate moment, Tiia says while lying on the operating table.

Around the operating room staff are preparing for a major surgery. For Tiia, this will culminate in a four-year research and care process.

  • Actually, not much tension now. I’m really happy. After the surgery, I will be able to live a full woman’s life without, for example, limiting the places I go, Tiia continues.

Read here what Tiia has today.

Did you know this? – 7 Facts About Sex Correction Surgery

  1. Finland is at the top of the world
  • In most parts of the world, gender-altering surgery is not done centrally and is not a state-provided treatment, as in Finland. In many countries, surgery is done in small centers here and there, which makes treatment very varied. I can honestly say that Finland is one of the world leaders in this field, says Sinikka Suominen, a specialist in plastic surgery.

Suominen has been performing sex repair surgery at Töölö Hospital since 2003. The team has a total of five plastic surgeries.

“We have had the opportunity to develop methods in the same multidisciplinary team for over 10 years and this work is bearing fruit.

  • The number of surgeries has increased sixfold in 15 years
    In 2003, ten gender-specific surgery was performed in Finland, compared to 60 today.

It is harder to turn a woman into a man than the other way around
“It is obviously harder to make a woman a man than a man,” says Sinikka Suominen, a specialist in plastic surgery.

In plastic surgery, the change from a man to a woman is a medium surgery because there are anatomical structures. The surgery takes 4-6 hours. The transformation from woman to man is a much bigger operation.

  • Surgery from woman to man takes all day, 8-10 hours, and requires the cooperation of many surgeons. Still, the result of surgery is always a compromise. The end result is never perfect.
  • The construction of the penis is challenging and complicated because it is not only a tissue transplant, but also an attempt to get the penis working. It is not always possible, but only a substitute can be made.
  • The transgender can get an erection
    Sinikka Suominen has been involved in developing a surgical technique that uses the patient’s own skin and muscle tabs to build the penis.

“Then the patient gets some action on the penis,” Suominen explains.

  • An erectile prosthesis can be mounted inside such neoplasm of skin tongues and muscles. It is similar to what a biological man can use to treat erectile dysfunction.
  • Most can do without an erection prosthesis, with a condom or external support.
  • Both the transgender and the transgender can have an orgasm
    Both sex repair surgeries preserve erogenous nerves, allowing both transgender and transgender orgasm.

There are risks associated with surgery

  • Gender correction surgery is a big surgery in both directions. Surgery to move the urinary tract and the rectum close, so there is always a risk of both injury. These risks are communicated to patients prior to the decision to undergo surgery.
  • Surgery can lead to urinary problems or wound complications. Some of the problems may also be permanent, Suominen says.
  • The end result of a sex repair surgery is never a person who has both genitals
    One problem in Finnish law has been that it requires a person to prove incapacitated if he wants to have his sex legally confirmed.

Some trans people feel that this is practically deprived of the right sex to strengthen the legal, if one wants to retain the right to start a family.

According to the surgeon, during sex repair surgery, the person becomes incapacitated without help.

  • When a man is turned into a woman in a sex repair surgery, the testicles have to be removed. The surgery cannot be done to save the testicles. Firstly, there is no room for them, and secondly, they cannot be hidden anywhere, because then they would carry the risk of cancer and would not work either.

Thus, classic gender-altering surgery always results in permanent infertility. Of course, patients have the opportunity to freeze sperm prior to surgery.

  • Female-to-male surgery also poses a great deal of challenge when trying to fit a wide variety of organs into a small area. The result is always a compromise. Obviously, ovarian and uterine preservation is possible, and some do not want genital surgery at all.
  • There are several different versions of genital surgery from woman to man. Ovarian removal is not done in the same surgery, Suominen adds.

Support intersex, transgender, gender, and their loved ones at Transit Support.

Risto Kuusisto, Yle

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