A college student who was born with two uteri and two vaginas could get pregnant without realizing – because she will still get a period from one womb, despite carrying a fetus in the other.
Paige DeAngelo, 20, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has uterine didelphys, meaning she was born with two fully-functioning reproductive systems, and therefore has two uteruses, two cervixes and two vaginas.
She also gets two periods, meaning she could be pregnant in one of her uteruses and wouldn’t know about it until she had other symptoms; she could also get pregnant in both wombs at the same time.
A student, who was born with two uteruses and vaginas, could get pregnant without realizing, because she experiences two periods and would continue to menstruate from her other womb
Because both of her reproductive systems are functional, each of Paige’s wombs go through a fairly traditional menstrual cycle, in which a lining inside the uterus builds up in preparation for a fertilized egg, before breaking down, which causes bleeding.
Unlike many women, Paige’s body completes two menstrual cycles, one from each of her uteri, meaning that she could conceive a child in one womb, while the other continues to go through the menstrual cycle, resulting in a period.
Paige was not diagnosed with the condition until the age of 18, when she visited the gynecologist for the first time – however she suffered with irregular periods, sometimes experiencing one every two weeks, for years before then.
She went to visit the gynecologist for a routine check-up, however examining Paige, the doctors advised her to call her mother, Carol Ann VanAuken, 53, so that she could hear her daughter’s diagnosis.
‘I always had a very irregular period but it was actually two cycles switching on and off,’ Paige explained.
‘Sometimes it would be once a month and other times it would be twice a month, only a couple weeks apart.’
The college student said that when she tells people about her condition, they always react in shock – and she added that most make the same misconception about the anatomy of her body.
Paige DeAngelo, 20, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has uterine didelphys, meaning she was born with two fully-functioning reproductive systems – two uteruses, cervixes and vaginas
Paige said many people assume that both of her vaginas are visible on the exterior of her body, however she explained that is not actually the case, and noted that her diagnosis may have been made much earlier had she been able to physically see that there was something different about her.
She explained: ‘People think [I have] two separate vaginas on the outside [of my body] but that is not the case which is why I didn’t find out for 18 years.
‘Each “side” is half the size of a normal vagina. It doesn’t cause any issues but it’s definitely noticeable.’
Speaking of the appointment where she found out, Paige said: ‘[The gynecologist] didn’t tell me straight away, but when I saw the look on her face I knew something wasn’t right.
‘We had no idea the severity of it.’
Paige, who was a teenager at the time, was told there was likely just some extra tissue, but was booked in for an MRI the following week.
‘The person that gave it actually gasped and laughed out loud when they first saw it,’ she recalled.
She had suffered with irregular periods – sometimes one every two weeks – for years, but she wasn’t diagnosed until she visited a gynecologist for the first time, aged 18
‘I was like “what the heck, what is that?” and they were like, “You have two reproductive systems!”
‘I thought it was kind of funny at first. I’d never heard of that, but then when I went back to the gynecologist and we talked about what it entailed that that’s when it kind of hit me.’
Despite initially making light of her condition, Paige soon learned that it actually puts her at a much higher risk of premature births or miscarriages, because each of her uteri are much smaller than usual.
She was told by a doctor that if she wanted to have children she’d probably have to have a surrogate, news that reduced her to tears.
The student at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said: ‘I was alone when I was driving back and I was just bawling my eyes out.
‘That was so heart-breaking to hear. I wanted to have a future where I grow up and have a big family.’
She has two periods, meaning she could be pregnant in one of her uteruses and wouldn’t know about it until she had other symptoms – or could get pregnant in both at the same time
She remains optimistic and has found community with other women, and mothers, who live with uterine didelphys.
What is uterine didelphys? The medical condition where woman have two vaginas
A double uterus is a rare abnormality that develops when a baby girl is in her mother’s womb.
Every uterus starts out as two small tubes called Mullerian ducts. As they begin to develop, they usually fuse together to form one uterus.
But in rare cases, the tubes remain separate and become two uteri.
Sometimes there is only one cervix for both wombs, other times each womb has a cervix.
Often the vagina in women with a double uterus is divided into two separate openings by a thin membrane.
It’s entirely possible for women with a double uterus to carry a baby to term.
However, the condition does come with an increased risk of miscarriage or premature labor.
It’s quite common for a woman with a double uterus to experience no symptoms whatsoever.
She said: ‘I’m in a Facebook support group with girls that have the condition and a lot of them have one child every five miscarriages.
‘It disheartening but I’m kind of glass half full person – the fact that people have had kids is what keeps me going.’
Paige is often bombarded with questions about her sex life, and has to assure people that there’s no issues.
‘I have a boyfriend right now and everything works in that sense!’ said Paige is currently in a relationship with fellow college student, Hugh Hinton, 20.
The condition is caused because when a female fetus is growing, the uterus starts out as two small tubes called Müllerian ducts.
These will eventually fuse together to form the reproductive system in a process called embryogenesis.
Women with uterine didelphys do not undergo full embryogenesis, and can be born with two full reproductive systems.
The vaginas are not distinguishable on the outside, but have a piece of tissue separating them called a septum.
Paige started her TikTok channel, to educate people who have questions about her condition and she now has over 300,000 followers.
She said: ‘I’ve definitely reached a lot of people from my TikToks which has been pretty awesome, besides some of the weird, creepy comments which I definitely expected by talking about my vagina!
‘A lot of girls who have the same issue DMed me saying they felt so alone this whole time.
‘Being able to bring all those people together was the reason why I did this – I knew I felt really alone and really scared when I found out.
‘I’m glad I’ve created a safe space for other females to reach out for help..’
She has since been able to control her irregular periods with the birth control pill.