When Kelly Smith was 17-years-old she received some devastating news from her doctor. She was told that she had a condition known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome, or MRKH. This syndrome, which affects one in 5,000 women, is characterized by them having virtually no vagina or womb.
The Daily Mail reports that this meant that Kelly could never become pregnant and give birth to her own children. Kelly explained, “The worst thing about the condition is how alone it can make you feel. It’s very isolating and you feel like a freak, especially when not even doctors are aware of it. It’s a lot to take in, especially at the age of 17 when you are full of hormones as it is.”
Kelly first became concerned that something was wrong when she was 16 and hadn’t received her period. One year later she visited a specialist consultant and, following an ultrasound examination, the condition was confirmed. She says:
“It was very difficult to come to terms with. It is a relatively unknown condition and not many doctors have even heard of it. I was lucky in that I had a lovely nurse who put no pressure on me and was really supportive. Other than her there is very little support out there other than perhaps the odd Yahoo group. It’s a very isolating condition.”
Of course, the syndrome had an enormous effect upon her relationship with men:
“It has really affected my relationships. I put a barrier up around myself. My friends at school would start to get into relationships and would be talking about having sex and I would just nod along.
“I did have a relationship that went really well when I was 19. He didn’t know about the condition but he knew that I couldn’t have children.
In the end I ended it because I didn’t feel like it was fair on him, I couldn’t deny a 22 year old man the chance to have sex and it got to the point when I just shut myself down.”
Kelly has decided to face up to her condition, and is currently having treatment to enlarge her vagina in order to make sexual relationships possible. The treatment is called dilator therapy, which involves gradually stretching the vagina over six months to a year. Kelly says, “Right now for me, I’m concerned about having a normal relationship — I just tackle each problem as it comes.”
There is an old saying: “What you’ve never had, you’ve never missed.” That’s particularly poignant when “what you never had” is a vagina.