A woman who was born with two vaginas believed it was ‘normal’ to use two tampons at once when on her period, before discovering she was born with a rare condition.
As a teenager, Tee Bartlett said she had absolutely no idea that it was unusual to use two tampons at once when she had her period, and assumed all women had two vaginal openings.
The 24-year-old says she only discovered the truth aged 16 after plucking up the courage to ask her mum in "which hole" the tampon needed to be inserted, which prompted an urgent doctor’s visit.
Bartlett went on to be diagnosed with a vaginal septum and is now sharing her experiences on social media to raise awareness of the condition.
“I didn’t really communicate with mum about awkward topics back then," Bartlett, a high ropes instructor from New South Wales, Australia, explains.
“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 wasn’t two holes and we argued for a little bit, and I was being really defensive.
“She then suggested that we go to the doctors. That’s when I realised, she was being serious and that there really is not supposed to be two openings down there."
Bartlett says it took more than one trip to health professionals to get a diagnosis, having visited two doctors who she says initially brushed off her concerns.
Not wanting to give up on finding answers, she decided to get a third opinion from a different doctor who referred her to a gynaecologist, and it was there it was confirmed she did have two vaginal openings.
The gynaecologist warned that her double vagina could make sexual intercourse and giving birth difficult and potentially dangerous.
Aged 17, Bartlett underwent surgery to remove the septum.
“Apparently, the vaginal septum is normal for babies in the womb, but it is supposed to dissolve," she explains.
“Mine just never dissolved. Mine was a bit thicker and longer than normal, which is why I had to have surgery to remove it.”
Watch: Student with two vaginas could get pregnant without any symptoms.
She continued: “I did research and found out that you could get someone stuck inside you during sexual intercourse, as the hole is half the size of normal."
After discovering more about the condition, Bartlett has been able to come to terms with her diagnosis, and move on after the surgery.
Her boyfriend (who she has been with since the diagnosis) was happy to support her, saying they’d "just deal with it when the time came."
Since sharing her story to social media, Bartlett has also received support from a large following of woman who have experienced similar situations.
“The craziest thing about posting it is the amount of people who have commented saying they have similar problems," she says.
“There are so many girls commenting that they have a similar thing, and they didn't realise that it wasn't normal."
Bartlett hopes her experiences will raise awareness of the condition and help others feel they are not alone.
“I honestly thought for a while that maybe I was an idiot for not realising you weren’t supposed to have two openings down there," she adds.
“But after posting a video about it, I’ve realised that 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.”
Additional reporting Caters.