Alexis’ story made my Wednesday, obviously. I was so fascinated. Image: Foundry/Pixabay.
Speaking about our bodies and experiences honestly and openly is empowering, not only for our health, but for our well-being.
Content notice: mentions of blood, pregnancy
There’s something about women’s friendships that changes as they enter their mid-twenties. It’s as though competitiveness gives way to camaraderie, insecurity gives way to humorous self-deprecation, and self-consciousness gives way to openness.
This is particularly true of one of my friendships. Meeting in our early twenties, in the wake of mini mental breakdowns and too many years of self-loathing, we were ready to have frank and honest conversations. About weird vaginas. [Editor's note: Not all women have vaginas, of course, and not all people with vaginas are women — but we don't own this article!] And awkward sex. And failing. And not knowing what we’re doing. Ever.
And thank God for that, because recently this friend, who I will call Alexis because that is her actual name and she refuses to be ashamed of her body, found out she has two cervixes. And she knew EXACTLY who to tell.
It was a typical Wednesday, at around two o’clock in the afternoon.
Like most Wednesdays I was sitting at my desk at work, contemplating whether to pop out for a cheeky Kit Kat. ‘No,’ I thought. ‘You’re not even hungry’.
It was then that my phone buzzed. The text was from my very lovely friend, Alexis.
‘You will never believe what is happening to me!’
I went to respond, ‘WHAT WHAT PLEASE GOD TELL ME WHAT’, but she was already typing. She had a story to tell.
My phone buzzed.
The message read, ‘Today my doctor asked me ‘Has anyone ever told you you have two cervixes’?”
‘My life is hilarious,’ she continued. ‘I have two motherf**king UTERUSES’.’
I wondered whether the plural of ‘uterus’ was ‘uteri’, ‘uteruses’ or ‘uterus’s’. It then occurred to me: It’s not something people usually have to worry about. Because typically people only have one.
‘It means I may have trouble having babies,’ she wrote. I paused. Oh, that could be really upsetting news. I don’t know how I’d feel if I was told fertility could be an issue.
But she quickly wrote back, ‘No seriously, it’s not. It’s a celebration. I’ve always known I don’t want kids.’
‘But it also means I could have two babies in two separate wombs, and they WOULDN’T be twins.’
She was still typing.
‘But it explains why I tell my boyfriend to stay away from the left side of my vagina because it hurts. I always thought it was because my cervix was lopsided or something but it’s probably because he was hitting my OTHER cervix.’
‘How did you find this out?!’ I texted, because I simply NEEDED to know.
‘Well, I had a very large cyst in my vagina,’ she wrote.
‘I was bleeding irregularly and experiencing pain in my (left) cervix. Basically symptoms of cervical cancer. So my doctor referred me to get a colposcopy especially since my pap test came back abnormal.’
‘The thing is, this is the first doctor that collected cells from BEHIND the cyst which could have been my other cervix, so there is still a possibility something is up with the second cervix.’
‘The next doctor performed a colposcopy, meaning she looked at my cervix with a camera microscope and did a biopsy. My boyfriend had the brilliant idea to ask her to also remove my cyst and when she did, she noticed it was in a weird place and saw something behind there.’
‘She couldn’t make it out exactly because of the blood from the biopsy and the cyst distorting the skin that was there, so then she asked me that question and I was like, no, no doctor has ever told me that I have two cervixes.’
‘It was so weird and there were three people there staring inside my vagina! My boyfriend, the doctor and the medical assistant.’
Alexis’ story made my Wednesday, obviously. I was so fascinated. But there’s so much more I want to know. Do you have two vaginas? Does this usually get picked up at birth? Do I have two cervixes? What does it mean for your hormones? Do you have a ‘double period’?
She’s having an ultrasound next week and I have no doubt she’ll share every detail with me.
Although it might sound trivial, stories like this are fundamentally important for women. Speaking about our bodies and experiences honestly and openly is empowering, not only for our health, but for our well-being.
I’m proud to have friendships that involve Wednesday afternoon chat sessions about having two cervixes. I’m proud that we’re not ashamed, we don’t judge each other, and we don’t hold our bodies or our lives to ridiculous standards.
Some women are going to have two cervixes. Some are going to have endometriosis. Some are going to have complicated pregnancies, and some will have no babies at all. But being open with each other, and sharing our stories, can make it all that little bit easier.