As I packed my bag to stay for a week with my best friend and her family, I decided to cram in one last item — my vaginal dilation kit. A neat little case containing four objects which look like dildos, each one slightly bigger than the next. I’ve owned a set like this ever since I was a teenager but, unlike a sex toy, they’ve never been used for pleasure.
I was only 16 years old when I was diagnosed with a rare condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome (MRKH). I was told that I had been born without a womb, cervix and vagina.
Globally, 1 in 5000 women are diagnosed with MRKH. Also known as Mullerian Agenesis, a typical diagnosis will occur in late teens when the first period fails to make an appearance. In fact, no period will ever arrive.
During one of my first medical appointments, it was explained that the length of my vagina was roughly the length of a fingernail. My 'dimple', as they commonly call it, was extremely under-developed.
If I wanted to have a 'normal' sex life and re-claim my female body, I would have to create my very own, custom-made vagina. At the time there were two options - surgery or dilation - and I chose the latter as the less invasive treatment.
For a long and traumatic nine months, both morning and night, I would insert pink, hard tubes into this fingernail-sized dimple and push hard. Eventually, this routine requiring a white-knuckled grip would create me a vagina.