Sorry gentlemen, no pictures. I know you were hoping to oogle our yonis, but not today. You are excused if you already know where everything is. What I’m finding out is that people are confused about this, and confused about what trans women get or don’t get as part of reassignment surgery. So first a quick course in what natal women who have no issues get as standard equipment:
- External reproductive system (discussed from nearest to abdomen to nearest to rectum):
- Mons pubis: This is an area above the pubic bone padded with fat under the skin.
- Labia majora: The labia majora start below the mons and form the outside of the vulva. Many people mistakenly call the vulva the vagina. The labia majora and mons are covered in pubic hair.
- Clitoral shaft: Between the upper end of the labia major is this complicated ridge that ends in the clitoral hood. The clitorus itself is complex and lies under this with just the tip poking out of the hood when aroused. Other branches go inside the body to become the cura which cause the vagina and labia to become more prominent on arousal.
- Clitoral hood: At the end of the shaft, the upper end of the labia minora comes together in a fold that covers the really sensitive clitorus. This hood is really important, it keeps that sensitive part protected from clothing or other rubbing that would be annoying or painful (when sex is not on the table)
- Labia minora: These folds extend down from the hood on each side of the vaginal vestibule.
- Vaginal vestibule: There’s a flat area between the labia minora and the introitus to the vaginal. That area, which is basically walled around by the labia is the vestibule.
- Introitus: The opening to the vaginal is in a couple of layers, but this is basically the opening.
- Urethra: The external opening to release urine. This is basically right above the introitus. I don’t know where the various medical diagrams get their information, but all the women I know have it practically in the vagina, i.e. they are separated by a few millimeters. I’ve seen insane diagrams showing it next to the clitorus – never, drawn by some guy.
- Internal organs:
- Vagina: A lined muscular tube that connects the introitus to the cervix. This is lined with a mucus membrane. Interestingly a healthy vagina is home to a balance of lactobacilli, essentially the bacteria found in yogurt.
- Cervix: It allows semen in, menses and mucus out, and during childbirth stretches amazingly to let the baby be delivered.
- Uterus: Also known as the womb, this is where an egg can implant and grow into a baby. It is a muscular shell that is lined internally to accept the egg. About every 28 days it sheds the lining and a woman has her period. This ends at menopause. If this is news you were sleeping in health class.
- Fallopian tubes: These are tubes that guide the egg (fertilized or not) from the ovaries to the uterus
- Ovaries: Female gonads that produce one egg per cycle
- Other internal organs left as an exercise for the enthusiastic reader: Skene’s glands and Bartholin’s glands.
At this point in time there is no way to create an artificial uterus, fallopian tube or ovary. Therefore trans woman cannot be fertile and neither have a period nor can get pregnant. Not a big disadvantage for those my age, but kind of unfortunate for someone who’s young.
A trans woman does get the external genitalia, these days this is done so well that even doctors and nurses can’t tell (outside of an obgyn) that it isn’t natural. In addition a “blind” vagina is constructed. Essentially we are the equivalent of a woman post hysterectomy.
Something that is probably not clear to most people who are not involved is that outside of the specific missing reproductive issue, we have most all of the same problems other women face. We get yeast infections, UTIs, bacterial vaginosis, we can be subject to injury by a overly excited or inconsiderate sex partner, and we can be sexually abused and assaulted. I think this often gets lost for some women who are looking for reasons to reject us.
As a last, lighter hearted anecdote. I have a female friend at work, well I have many but I was chatting with one in particular. I commented to her that people like me ought to be given a manual by our surgeons.
Her very sweet reply was “That’s what mom’s are for”. So here goes:
I miss you mom, gone all these thirty two years. I sure wish I could ask you some of these questions. If you are somewhere your girls are thinking about you with love in their hearts. Feel free to answer the questions you find in my heart. Yours was always open.