Woman Born Without 2/3 of Her Vagina and No Uterus Speaks Out on Infertility: 'I Felt Alone'
Briana Fletcher grew up dreaming of having two children, and adopting two more. But that wish came to a halt when doctors discovered that she never developed a uterus or two-thirds of her vaginal canal, meaning she could never carry children.
Fletcher thought something was “off” at age 10, when she had developed breasts but still didn’t have her period. Her family doctor told her to wait a few years, but by age 16, it still hadn’t come, and an MRI confirmed that much of her reproductive organs were missing.
“I found the diagnosis heartbreaking,” Fletcher, now 23, tells PEOPLE. “That day is a blur for me. I remember the gynecologist came in, and she was quite pregnant. She told me I was born missing my uterus, and my only option to have children was to adopt. I felt like I was robbed of a chance to have a family before I even started out.”
And it didn’t help that the doctor was unsure of what could have caused this to happen.
“She told me and my mother that she had done a lot of research and the only thing that fit my ‘symptoms’ was something called Mayer Rokitansky Kuster Hauser syndrome, or MRKH for short,” Fletcher recalls. “She’d never seen a case herself, in all her years of practice. I had no idea how common or rare it was, but to my 16-year-old mind, I was alone.”
She’s since found a few women who also have MRKH through social media, and though the diagnosis was upsetting to hear, Fletcher says MRKH does not have much of an affect on her daily life. She’s also comforted by her options for motherhood.
“Thankfully, since then, I’ve learned that you do not need to have children to be a woman, and you do not need to give birth to a child or even be blood relation for them to be your own,” she says.
And Fletcher adds that she can still have vaginal intercourse.
“I have 1/3 of my vaginal canal and I stretched it through intercourse. The vagina stretches when you are aroused, so sex is much more pleasurable and easier. This is for both women with MRKH and ‘normal’ women,” she explains.
Now engaged, Fletcher, who is an early childhood educator living in Nova Scotia, hopes to adopt children with her fiancé. She had initially considered IVF or a surrogate, but it was too cost-prohibitive.
“I would love to adopt an older child or a sibling group, I think that it would be so rewarding,” she says. “They have a hard time placing older children over the age of 3 years old, children with any sort of special needs and large sibling groups of 3 or more siblings. Keeping children together with their siblings is vital to their mental health and development.”
And Fletcher wants to spread awareness of MRKH and infertility.
“Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. That statistic just blows me away,” she says. “I hope people understand that it’s okay not to want to have children, or to explore other options to having a family. I want people to learn more about anatomy too. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me how I pee I could retire!”
She adds: “When I first learned I had MRKH, I was scared, I was sad, and I felt alone. Now, I love sharing my story with anyone who will hear it.”