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Featured Image Credit: @IntersexAF/Twitter/Channel 4
A man who was born with a micro-penis has said his sex life is now much ‘healthier’ after growing a replacement on his arm through a procedure known as a phalloplasty.
In a new Channel 4 documentary, which airs tonight, we meet three men who have undergone the complex process, which involves taking skin from another part of the body to create a new penis, attaching this to a site on the body to grow before it is moved to its rightful home.
Anick, 26, was born with an underdeveloped penis, caused by a rare genetic intersex condition called partial androgen insensitivity syndrome. Initially doctors believed he had a ‘buried penis’ before telling him it was a ‘micro-penis’.
Speaking to LADbible, Anick said he carried a lot of ‘resentment’ about the ‘extensive’ surgeries he’s been through, but has finally started to find peace with his journey.
“I lived with a lot of pain which only recently has stopped, and the reason was that the surgeries were often unnecessary,” he said.
“I was made to feel like I was a ‘sick’ kid growing up in hospitals, when essentially, I just had a body which was visibly different.”
The film – which also features a man who lost his penis due to an infection, and a trans man – follows Anick as he prepares for his 30th operation in 20 years, having decided to take the plunge on a phalloplasty four years ago.
The penis was grown on his forearm and then transferred to his groin, while skin from his buttocks was used to repair the arm.
Tonight on @Channel4 10pm (BST) join me on my phalloplasty journey. Meet my family, and see how being born with intersex traits has impacted my parents.— Anick (@IntersexAF) May 3, 2022
The documentary shows my story, alongside Malcolm who lost his penis due to an infection, and Lee who is a trans man. pic.twitter.com/lh4taraau3
However, Anick ‘very quickly’ realised that something wasn’t right after going through the final stage of the procedure – which involves the installation of an implant that can be erected using a pump in the scrotum – having been left in a lot of pain and discomfort.
After having yet another surgery to solve the issue, Anick had to keep his penis erect for two weeks to keep the skin stretched, before going back to hospital to have it deflated.
Since filming the documentary, Anick has had to have one more surgery to reposition the pump so that he could access it easier.
While some pain is present, he says things are much better than they once were, although the biggest change is arguably the effect the process has had on his self-esteem.
Anick said: “My confidence has vastly improved since the final surgeries and I am excited to start my life. I won’t need another surgery for years – which literally has never been the case in my life until now.
“My sex life is becoming healthier, and a lot of that is down to my confidence around discussing my story.
"Phalloplasty has given me a sex life and something to talk about – not many of us walk around with a customised/inflatable penis!”
Anick said his family have always tried to make him feel comfortable with his body, but that this used to anger him when he was younger – only highlighting how ‘alienating’ his condition was.
He continued: “My mum and I have a complicated relationship which is built on love and pain. In many ways, she was always more obsessed with changing my body than I was, but that was because she was told my body needed fixing and that it was a problem.
"For my mum, she wanted me to be able to have a healthy life, a family, and find love — everything she agreed to for my care was based on that. She’s a funny person, and has been through a lot of anguish (particularly around me!).
“My siblings do not talk to my mum about their bodies and sex life the way I do. Yet again, most people talk to me about it more than they would with others… People cringe when I tell them the story about my mum and my penis - she even offered her own arm to be used as the phallus.
"In her eyes, she was trying to minimise my pain and she wanted to be the one to help. Luckily she understood that I did not want her arm to be my penis!
“But for me, it’s hilarious. It’s also funny to me how much things have changed as soon as I had phalloplasty – she sees me as a man and not her baby anymore. It’s safe to say we discuss it a lot less now, I have a lot more privacy.”
Follow my phalloplasty journey on @Channel4 @All4 Tuesday 3rd May!— Anick (@IntersexAF) May 2, 2022
You’ll be able to see three very different stories about why people would have this extremely difficult procedure. And their realities afterwards… pic.twitter.com/MuoNujKQpN
Anick now hopes to channel his past pain into something ‘productive’, having co-founded a charity to help ensure others in situations like his ‘get access to better support’.
He also hopes to one day become a social worker to provide ‘specialist support to children and young people to understand their rights whilst in hospital’.
Encouraging people in the same boat to go and use therapy to 'work on yourself and understand what you want', Anick added: “My problem was that surgery was the quickest and easiest option and it was planned for me since I was a kid. I never had the psychosocial support I needed, even until now.
“Figure out what your aim is by having any procedure because it can seem great or easy, but it comes with a lot of risks and unexplained complications. Phalloplasty is very cosmetic, and it often feels like it’s for other people rather than me. Often, my own sexual sensation was an afterthought, the focus was functional and about my future partner – rather than me.
“Seek out people in similar situations because you’re not alone. This is a surprisingly common procedure for something that doctors call rare. The first way to find someone is through your doctor if you’re already on the path to getting this procedure. Otherwise, people like me online talk about phalloplasty and our bodies a lot more than maybe we should!”
Watch The Man With A Penis On His Arm tonight at 9pm on Channel 4.