Meet Kaylee Moats, The Woman Born Without A Vagina & The Condition Called MRKH

Photo: livescience.com
 Woman Born Without A Vagina
Self

She feels like less than a woman.

As a cis-woman my relationship with my vagina has been central to my understanding of who I am as a woman.

I know that this isn't the case for every woman (cis or otherwise), but it has been my experience.

It's not an accident then that vaginas have also long been central to the way men and the rest of the world in general think about women.

Let's face it: Having a vagina is a loaded thing. People have opinions about vaginas and not all of them good

In fact for some, the notion that we have vaginas makes us inherently unclean. For others having a vagina means that we are in possession of emotions that are beyond our own control. Other people think having a vagina makes women a lesser form of human than a human who is born with a penis.

 

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Isn't it strange how sex organs can become so central to a society's perception of a gender when the truth of the matter is that it's just biology? 

Gender is a construct. The sex organs that you are born with do not have to dictate the life you lead. These are facts, but they are the kind of challenging ideas that some people have a really hard time wrapping their heads around because they fly in the face of their perceptions.

It can be true even if you ARE a woman.

Take for example women who are born with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome (MRKH). In this very rare condition biological women are born without a vagina.

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A 21-year old woman named Kaylee Moats of Arizona recently made the news when she shared that she had MRKH. She was not aware of the fact that she was born without a vagina until she was 18 and saw a doctor because she had yet to begin menstruating. 

Her doctor performed an ultrasound and found that Kaylee did not have a vagina, a cervix, or a uterus. 

If you think being a woman born with a vagina is a raw deal, then you need to know more about this exceptionally rare condition.

If being a woman means having a vagina and being perceived as being "unclean" by some, imagine how it feels to be a woman who is born without the equipment that is supposedly meant to define who we are as women. 

"It makes me feel like I'm less of a woman and I'm trying to deal with that," shared Kaylee in an emotional video (watch it below) where she opened up about MRKH

 

What Is MRKH, or Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser? 

MRKH is an incredibly rare syndrome where biologically female women are born without a vagina, cervix, or uterus. 

So how rare is rare? Approximately just 1 of every 5,000 newborn girls will be born with MRKH.

During the embryonic stage of development in utero the female reproductive organs don't develop typically. This can mean that the vagina, cervix and uterus are either underdeveloped or totally absent to begin with. 

MRKH is often not diagnosed until puberty. That's because in many respects MRKH is an invisible syndrome until a woman develops and fails to menstruate. 

Interesting, women with MRKH have totally functional ovaries, but without a uterus there's no place for the eggs that are dropped monthly to go. Still, the eggs are viable and some women with MRKH choose to have theirs harvested and frozen for when the time comes to think about starting a family. 

 

Is Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) operable?

There are surgical and non-surgical options for women born with MRKH.

The non-surgical option involves using a series of vaginal dilators to enlarge any vaginal opening that may be there or even to create one where there is nothing at all.

The surgical option for treating MRKH is the actual creation of a vagina through a procedure called a vaginoplasty where pre-existing tissue of the patient is surgically sculpted to create a vagina. 

 

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Here's something kind of crazy: did you know that they can literally make vaginas in a lab? I mean, none of us should be surprised, think of all the geeky dude scientists out there. It was only a matter of time before they were creating their very own real life vaginas.

All joking aside, in four cases of MRKH teenage girls were actually given vagina transplants with vaginas that had been made from their own cells. The scientists behind this experiment say that the results were successful, but since the surgeries were only performed in 2014 there's still a lot more research that needs to be done. 

Kaylee feels like she needs to be a "full woman." But it's an unaffordable option.

That's because while Kaylee is biologically female, the surgery that she would need (a vaginoplasty) is technically considered a gender reassignment surgery and thus not covered by most health insurers. 

GoFundMe

Kaylee has a great community of support and has started a GoFund Me page to raise the money needed for her surgery. What's more than that, her support system has enabled her to talk openly about a subject that is still considered so taboo. 

The idea of being born without a vagina might sound like something out of science fiction, but it is a real affliction. 

As women our relationships with our bodies are already so complicated. There is no reason someone like Kaylee shouldn't be able to access the care she requires to make her feel fully herself just because the world refuses to accept that having a vagina isn't a dirty word, for many (though obviously not all) it's a biological imperative. 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a sex, humor and lifestyle writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cat, Batman. She hosts the sex, love, and dating advice show Becca After Dark on YourTango's Facebook Page every Tuesday and Thursday. For more of her work, click here

 

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