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NIH study recruiting 18-year-olds to learn 'unknown' side effects of testicle removal for gender dysphoria

The National Institutes of Health is funding a study via a women’s health grant that is recruiting people as young as 18 to uncover what it acknowledges as the “unknown” cardiovascular effects of surgically removing testicles on patients diagnosed with gender dysphoria

The observational study is looking for 30 gender diverse biological male participants who are interested in the orchiectomy procedure, which has also been referred to as “surgical castration” in medical literature. 

The chief investigator is Dr. Sean Iwamoto, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. 

However, it was unclear if Dr. Iwamoto had established predictions of what the outcomes of his research would show before the evidence presented itself. 

The study’s preliminary abstract acknowledges the lack of research on the cardiovascular side effects of the orchiectomy procedure. 

National Institutes of Health gender-affirming care

National Institutes of Health is funding a study on genital surgeries on patients as young as 18. (Adobe Stock | NIH )

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“Trans women appear to be at greater risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and blood clots compared to non-trans adults. The effect of orchiectomy on CVD risk among trans women is unknown, but orchiectomy may change blood vessel function and metabolic health,” the study said. 

Dr. Iwamototo’s biography page on the medical school’s website appeared to endorse a particular conclusion, calling the treatments “life-saving,” which provide “maximal physical… benefits.” 

Dr. Iwamoto said, “Better understanding acute and chronic effects of… gender-affirming surgery… will increase our confidence that these life-saving treatments provide maximal physical and mental health benefits and minimal risks, particularly related to cardiovascular disease.”

Dr. Sean Iwamototo university colorado anschutz medical campus

Dr. Sean Iwamototo is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. (Adobe Stock | YouTube/screenshot)

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Fox News Digital reached out to the NIH and the medical school, asking whether they believed Dr. Iwamoto displayed a clear bias on his biography page by appearing to state a conclusion of what his research will show in the early recruiting phase but did not immediately receive a response.  

“It is important to develop studies that represent the transgender and gender diverse populations we see in Colorado. Our results will help inform future research, contribute to improvements in gender-affirming care, and improve confidence that shared decision making between patients and providers is more evidence-based,” Dr. Iwamoto said. a

Dr. Iwamoto added that he is collaborating with international bodies.  

“My collaborations with national and international leaders continue to inspire me to focus on this niche research area with broad implications for health in adults across age, sex, and gender identity spectra,” the assistant professor said. 

gender identity affirming care colorado denver university medical school

A person wears a gender-neutral pronoun jacket at a pride month event, 2022.  ((Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images))

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The orchiectomy is commonly used in “gender-affirming care” as part of a vaginoplasty surgery which creates a neo-vagina from existing genital tissue – such as the penis and scrotum. 

Orchiectomies are also used to treat or manage testicular and prostate cancer. 

A study done in 2017 on the side effects of orchiectomies on testicular cancer patients found “higher rates of [cardiovascular] ischemic events in older patients.”

“Cardiovascular events or their minor syndromes, as various forms of ischemia, are considered medical emergencies,” according to an article published in Cardiovascular Diabetolgy. 

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It wasn’t immediately clear which institution was providing the orchiectomy procedures. The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus appears to provide gender-affirming surgical procedures. 

It’s website states it provides a “Vast spectrum of gender-affirming hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgery, and we are the only place in Colorado that currently offers phalloplasty.”

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