Tee Bartlett: Woman with 2 vaginas used 2 tampons for years before realizing it was unusual
A woman born with two vaginas thought it was "normal" to use two tampons every month before she went to a doctor. Tee Bartlett, from Hunter Valley in New South Wales, said she had no idea as a teenager that it was unusual to use two tampons simultaneously thinking all women had two vaginal openings.
However, she understood something wasn't quite right when she finally asked her mother "which hole" a tampon needed to be inserted and was told to urgently visit the doctor. Bartlett was diagnosed with a vaginal septum at the age of 16. The condition is caused when the female reproductive system is only partially developed, thus leaving a dividing wall of tissue in the vagina.
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Bartlett, now 24, remembered the look on her mother's face when she mustered the courage to ask her about how to use a tampon. "I didn't really communicate with mum about awkward topics back then," Bartlett said. "One day, I was having a conversation with my best friend and mum, and I finally asked which hole a tampon was supposed to go in, the left or the right. Mum looked at me like "what?". At first, she said that there weren't two holes and we argued for a little bit, and I was being really defensive. She then suggested that we go to the doctor. That's when I realized, she was being serious and that there really is not supposed to be two openings down there."
Bartlett said the doctors initially made her "feel crazy" as they "disregarded" her claims. "The second doctor looked at it, then looked back at me and said, 'Nah it's normal' and she sort of pushed us out the door," she recalled. "I left there somewhat flabbergasted. I was nuts thinking that I had two vaginas. I was starting to feel like I was going crazy. I was second-guessing myself."
Bartlett finally decided to get a third opinion from a different physician who referred her to a gynecologist, who would confirm that she indeed had two vaginal openings. She was warned that her double vagina would make sexual intercourse and giving birth rather difficult and dangerous, and so she opted to undergo surgery to remove the septum at age 17. "My wall was too thick to be snipped out and was as long as a finger going right up to just before my cervix. Apparently, the vaginal septum is normal for babies in the womb, but it's supposed to dissolve," she explained. "Mine just never dissolved. Mine was a bit thicker and longer than normal, which is why I had to get surgery."
Bartlett, a high ropes instructor, said she was told "you could get someone stuck inside you during sexual intercourse, as the hole is half the size as normal." "It was freaking me out," she continued. "My boyfriend at the time is my boyfriend now and he was fine when I told him. He said that we would just deal with it when the time came."
Bartlett has since shared her experiences on social media to raise awareness. According to her, many women have come forward revealing they have a similar condition. "The craziest thing about posting it is the number of girls who have commented saying they have similar problems. They didn't realize that it wasn't normal," Bartlett said. "I'm glad I'm not the only person. I honestly thought for a while there that maybe I was an idiot for not realizing you weren't supposed to have two openings down there. But after posting a video about it, I've realized no one really knows that we weren't supposed to have two. It is something I'm not worried about anymore. That was me, now it's over and I'm good now."