What is orchiectomy (gender affirming care)?

Orchiectomy (Gender Affirming Care)
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Orchiectomy for gender affirmation: Overview

An orchiectomy (say "or-kee-EK-tuh-mee") for gender affirmation is surgery to remove your testicles. It can help your body match your gender identity. The surgery may also be done to remove your body's source of male hormones (testosterone). This may be the only surgery you have. Or you may have several surgeries done over time to get the results you want.

During the surgery, the doctor removes your testicles through a cut (incision) in the scrotum.

You may need to take 2 to 3 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.

After the surgery, your body won't be able to make sperm. If there's a chance that you'll want to have biological children in the future, talk to your doctor about your options.

Talk to your doctor about the medicines and prescribed hormones you're taking. They may need to change after surgery.

After the surgery, you may go home the same day. Most people are back to their usual activities after 2 to 3 weeks. You'll need to avoid strenuous activity. Try not to strain with bowel movements or lift heavy things.

How can you care for yourself after an orchiectomy for gender affirmation?

Activity

  • Allow your body to heal. Don't move quickly, lift anything heavy, or do any strenuous activities, such as biking, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, until your doctor says it's okay.
  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep is needed to help you recover.
  • Be active. It can help prevent problems and help you recover. Short and frequent activity, such as walking, is ideal. Tell your doctor right away if you have discomfort, pain, or changes in your surgical area.
  • Follow your doctor's instructions about sitting while you're healing. For example, you may be advised to sit only for short periods of time.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again. Do not drive if you have pain or if you're taking prescription pain medicines.
  • Ask your doctor when it's okay for you to have sex.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work. This will depend on the surgery you had and the type of work you do.

Diet

  • You can eat your normal diet. Be sure to include plenty of protein.
  • You may not have much of an appetite right after surgery. Even if you don't feel like eating, make sure to drink enough fluids and stay hydrated.
  • If your bowel movements are not regular right after surgery (this is very common), try to avoid constipation and straining. Drink plenty of water. Your doctor may suggest fiber, a stool softener, or a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines, including hormones. You will also get instructions about taking any new medicines. If you have any questions about your medicines, talk to your doctor or a pharmacist.
  • If you stopped taking aspirin or some other blood thinner, your doctor will tell you when to start taking it again.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • If your doctor gave you specific instructions on how to care for your cuts (incisions), follow those instructions.
  • You may have stitches over the incisions. Your doctor will tell you if you need to come back to have the stitches removed.
  • If you have strips of tape over the incisions, leave the tape on for a week or until it falls off. Or follow your doctor's instructions for removing the tape.
  • Keep the surgical areas clean and dry. Wash the areas daily with warm, soapy water, and pat them dry. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. They can slow healing. Do not apply any ointments, lotions, or creams unless your doctor says it's okay.
  • Your doctor will tell you when you can take a shower. Do not take a bath, swim, or use a hot tub until the incision is healed (about 2 weeks), or until your doctor tells you it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor if you can use a cold pack or warm compresses on the surgical site. If you have a lot of swelling, ice packs and lying down can help.
  • While you're healing, wear the type of underwear your doctor recommends.
  • If you have a drain after surgery, your doctor will tell you how to take care of it.

After orchiectomy for gender affirmation: Overview

An orchiectomy (say "or-kee-EK-tuh-mee") for gender affirmation is surgery to remove your testicles. It can help your body match your gender identity.

You can expect to feel better each day. But you may have some mild to moderate pain for several days after surgery. You may need pain medicine during this time. The skin near your incision will be swollen and may be bruised after surgery. This is normal. The swelling and bruising often go away within 2 to 4 weeks.

Most people are back to their usual activities after 2 to 3 weeks. You'll need to avoid strenuous activity. Try not to strain with bowel movements or lift heavy things while you recover.

You may notice changes in your body several weeks after surgery. You may notice changes in your mood and the way your body looks and feels. You may lose your sex drive or gain weight. Talk to your doctor about the medicines and prescribed hormones you're taking. They may need to change. This can help with symptoms.

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