Guest blog – Sonia Sadhbh Kolasinska
My name is Sonia and I am a previous patient of GenderGP. Having really enjoyed Danica Rain’s podcast on the subject of gender confirmation surgery, I wanted to share my own experiences.
Earlier this year I travelled to Germany, to Dr Jürgen Schaff’s clinic. Dr Schaff is an expert in treating transgender patients. He has participated in extensive research and has published a number of papers the details of which are available on the biography page of his website: https://drschaff.de/ueber-mich. He has total commitment to patient satisfaction, something which is evident in all of his practice and which engenders complete trust on the part of the patient.
He uses a ‘combined method’ technique, which I will outline below.
**Please note, for the sake of accuracy, I am going to get a little technical!**
The combined method:
As explained on Dr Schaff’s website: “The goal of genital alignment should be an aesthetic female vulva and a well-functioning vagina. Because of its sensitivity and thin, soft, flexible skin, the penis is ideally suited to construct the small labia and the prepuce, the skin which surrounds the clitoris. The clitoris itself is formed from the glans and the highly sensitive inside of the foreskin. Both are supplied by blood vessels and nerves from the penis shaft.
The vagina is formed out of a combination of parts of the penile skin, the longitudinally opened urethra and the scrotum. This allows the vagina to be deep and wide to allow uncomplicated intercourse. The urethral mucosa present should provide sufficient moisture and a better chance of reaching a female vaginal milieu.
Since my operation I have experienced natural lubrication and considerable sensation (I have experienced several climaxes already). I can also squeeze the muscles around the vagina, which feels like it was always there.
The healing process
The technique is complicated and so is the healing process. I stayed in the clinic for three weeks and during that time I was seen by assistant doctors every day. I received fantastic 24/7 care. My vagina was cleaned each day during week two. My catheter was removed after two weeks and I immediately began dilation exercises under the expert guidance of the medical team. My vagina was bleeding a little but the surgeon reassured me that it was entirely normal and that I shouldn’t worry.
Three weeks after the operation I flew back to Ireland – this was at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. I returned to an empty home (my partner is stuck in Poland on lockdown). My recovery was excellent and just one week after my return, I started a new job. Things are going pretty well.
During the week after arriving home I contacted my GP and the National Gender Service. I was unable to physically visit my GP due to Covid-19 restrictions, so everything was done over the phone, but it was very efficient. I received prescriptions, including the necessary hormones and ordered a huge box of bandages, saline, incontinence sheets online, to see me through the next few weeks.
One month later I was seen by my gynaecologist. He took a swab sample to check for infections inside my vagina. The results were fantastic, there was no infection and he confirmed that I had: “normal female bacterial flora”.
Throughout this time I was in contact with my surgeon. If I had questions, I simply asked him. If necessary, I sent photographs of whatever was concerning me, to get his opinion. I am delighted to say that all is healing well.
Two weeks ago I returned to Germany, to my surgeon, for a checkup and to plan any minor cosmetic revisions. Thankfully, there were no signs of no necrosis or infection, and the depth is pretty good.
I paid out of pocket for my surgery. Insurance required diagnosis done here in Ireland, and frustratingly, I wasn’t sure if my case would tick all the boxes I needed to tick, in order to qualify. Having said that, there is a chance that my insurance might cover some of the follow-up procedures.
I decided to choose Dr Schaff in Germany and not Dr Kamol in Thailand, for three reasons: because Germany is in the EU, which I thought might help from an insurance perspective, to minimise the amount of travel involved and because I was so impressed with the theory behind his technique, which I can confirm, is absolutely fantastic.
The only problem is language – you need to be able to speak some German – and time, Dr Schaff is very busy!
Like waking from a dream
The operation itself never felt like vaginoplasty. Instead it feels like I always had vagina, and the operation was to correct a problem. After surgery, my mind and my body were in harmony, a feeling I had never had before. Having suffered from dysphoria all my life I now feel only love towards my body. I don’t question my gender anymore. I’m just living my life, as I was meant to live it and I am very, very grateful for the referral letter I got from GenderGP that allowed me to move forward with my surgery. You guys made one chick a very happy person!