Personal shopper Fedra Fabian’s sex life recently came under intense public scrutiny after her boyfriend was the subject of a documentary…about the fact that he has no penis.
Fedra’s fiancÃƒÂ© Andrew Wardle was born with bladder exstrophy, a condition that caused his bladder to form on the outside of his body. As a result, he was left with no penis. (Doctors were later able to reinsert his bladder into his body.)
Andrew, who is based in the U.K., kept his condition a secret for years, but finally decided to open up in a Discovery Networks International documentary called The Man with No Penis, which aired Oct. 5 on TLC.
The documentary followed Andrew as he underwent medical procedures that used muscle and skin grafted from his arm to create a fully-functioning penis. (The final procedure will take place in early 2016.) It also addressed his relationship with Fedra, and how they deal with Andrew’s disorder.
Still, we had even more questions—so we reached out via email to Fedra, who is originally from Hungary but now lives in the U.K., for answers.
Women’s Health: How did you meet Andrew?
Fedra: I met with Andrew in a holiday camp where we both worked at the time.
WH: How far into dating him did he tell you about his condition? And how did he break the news?
Fedra: Early on he tried to tell me, but you can see it’s not an easy subject to talk about. There is really no perfect time.
It’s easy to explain it if I put it in perspective: Just imagine you can't have children because you have some illness, something that’s not your fault. And you start dating somebody you really like, and you feel like it might be love, and you need to tell them about your condition. You will be terrified, especially because you had really bad reactions in the past, relationships broke up because of it, but not because you’ve done something wrong or something you can change.
The first time Andrew tried to tell me, it was in the first few months [of dating], and he couldn't do it. But when finally he did tell me, it was the night before it came out in the papers. He couldn’t push it off any further, and he didn't want me to find it out in the papers. It was a really hard chat for both of us.
WH: Do your friends and family know about Andrew's condition, or have you kept it a secret from them up until now?
Fedra: My family has known since Andrew told me, but there are still a few people who don't. But we’re not really talking about it. My mother asks me sometimes, ‘How is Andrew doing?’ and if we know the date of his [final] operation. They love him for all of who he is—an amazing person, a funny free spirit, and a strong man.
WH: What was your initial reaction?
Fedra: To be completely honest, my brain stopped working. I was shocked, but when I got myself together, I told him we will do our best to work this out. I also need to point it out, our relationship started differently than his others, because since day one, he had hopes that the operation would bring his 'health' back. So I always knew about the operation.
So let's just say, it was easier on our situation to know there was a light at the end of the tunnel.
"They love him for all of who he is—an amazing person, a funny free spirit, and a strong man."
WH: How do you think his condition affects your relationship, aside from the obvious sexual aspect?
Fedra: We had a really hard two years. We did argue a lot back in the day, and we couldn't connect. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what our issue was until we both opened up. It was a really challenging and slow process.
But if you love somebody, no matter what, you will find your way to his heart...This relationship has a different flow, you need to let it in, and find yourself in it.
WH: Is there anything about your sex life you think other women would be jealous of/men could learn from?
Fedra: We have a much better communication between each other because of obvious reasons. We can’t push a disagreement aside and just jump in bed to make up. We can’t leave it, we need to sort it out if something [is] bothering us.
"If you love somebody, no matter what, you will find your way to his heart..."
WH: Have the two of you talked about marriage and having kids? What are those conversations like?
Fedra: Yes we have. We’ve been engaged since January 2015, but we’re not planning the wedding just yet, as we have bigger fish to fry first.
WH: Do you think he’s more accepting of your own flaws because of his condition?
Fedra: I do think it makes him more open and he can understand others more easily. What I noticed about Andrew (and liked straight away), is that he always asks questions and does not hold back his own answers. He has a beautiful, honest heart. He has a really strong sense of justice. He is a truly wonderful man!
WH: What did it feel like when you learned another man with a penis transplant had impregnated a woman (if you've heard that?)
Fedra: I didn’t hear about it till now, I'm really happy for them! We wish them a long and happy life for the family!
"We’ve been engaged since January 2015, but we’re not planning the wedding just yet as we have bigger fish to fry first."
WH: What questions are you sick of answering?
Fedra: There is no such question. It’s the nature of the question that makes me uncomfortable, as it’s very private. I also understand our situation is unique and people want to know. But Andrew is trying to be helpful to others and I support him as best I can. But sometimes it still gets to me, at the end of the day. I’m talking to strangers about my private life, and fears and problems... it feels unnatural.
WH: Have you paid attention to the public’s response to the show?
Fedra: It’s not a part of our everyday life. I'm not following the talk or the chatter. I hope it will help somebody to not give up and to keep fighting.