An orchiectomy is a surgical procedure that involves the removal of one or both testicles. For transgender women (male-to-female individuals), bilateral orchiectomy (removal of both testicles) can be a step in the transition process. Here’s an overview of what the procedure entails and its implications for transgender women:

  1. Reasons for Orchiectomy:
    • Hormonal: Removing the testicles eliminates the primary source of testosterone production. This can allow for a reduction in the dosage of anti-androgens (medications that block the effects of testosterone) or eliminate the need for them altogether.
    • Physical/Aesthetic: The absence of testicles can make it easier to wear certain clothing and can improve the appearance in feminine clothing, especially swimsuits or tight-fitting garments.
    • Gender Dysphoria: For some transgender women, the presence of testicles is a significant source of gender dysphoria. Removal can provide psychological relief.
    • Preparation for Vaginoplasty: For those who will undergo vaginoplasty in the future, an orchiectomy can be a preparatory step, though it’s not a requirement. Some surgeons might perform the orchiectomy as part of the vaginoplasty procedure.
  2. Procedure:
    • Orchiectomies can be performed through several approaches: an inguinal (groin) incision, a scrotal incision, or via the upper pubic area. The best approach will depend on individual anatomy and the surgeon’s expertise.
    • The surgery is often done as an outpatient procedure, with the patient returning home the same day.
  3. Recovery:
    • The recovery time is generally short, with most people returning to non-strenuous activities within a week.
    • Pain, swelling, and bruising are common post-operative symptoms but usually subside within a few weeks.
  4. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT):
    • After an orchiectomy, transgender women will still need to continue estrogen therapy to maintain feminine secondary sexual characteristics and to prevent osteoporosis, but, as mentioned, anti-androgens might be reduced or stopped.
  5. Considerations:
    • Fertility: An orchiectomy results in permanent sterility. Those who wish to have biological children in the future should consider sperm banking before the procedure.
    • Permanent Decision: An orchiectomy is irreversible. It’s essential to be certain about the decision and discuss it thoroughly with a therapist and medical professionals.
  6. Cost and Insurance:
    • The cost of an orchiectomy can vary depending on location, facility, and surgeon. Some insurance plans might cover the procedure, especially if deemed medically necessary due to gender dysphoria.
  7. Potential Complications:
    • As with any surgery, there’s a risk of complications such as infection, bleeding, scarring, and adverse reactions to anesthesia.

For transgender women considering an orchiectomy, it’s essential to consult with experienced medical professionals, including mental health specialists familiar with gender-related care, to make informed decisions.