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A student has opened up about being born with two uteruses, cervixes and vaginas.
Paige DeAngelo has uterine didelphys, which means she has double reproductive systems.
Her periods sometimes come once every two weeks, which means she could be pregnant in one of her uteruses without realising.
Despite the 20-year-old has had an irregular menstrual cycle for years, doctors didn't diagnose her with the condition until two years ago.
In the routine check-up, Paige's doctor told her to call her mum Carol Ann VanAuken, 53, for support.
Medical staff broke the news to the teen, who was understandably shocked by the diagnosis.
Paige said: "She 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."
The teen was told there was likely just some extra tissue, but was booked in for an MRI the following week.
Paige said: "The person that gave it actually gasped and laughed out loud when they first saw it.
"I was like 'what the heck, what is that?', and they were like 'you have two reproductive systems!'
"I had no idea. I honestly I didn't even process it right away.
"I thought it was kind of funny at first. I'd never heard of that, but then when I went back to the gynaecologist and we talked about what it entailed that that's when it kind of hit me."
The young woman, from Philadelphia, US, admits people are always very curious to learn more about her condition.
She said: "People's reactions when I tell them are always funny – it's like shock, and then 'what did you say?'
"There's definitely curiosity, everyone says 'I have so many questions'!
"I think the biggest misconception is the anatomy of the two.
"People think they're two separate vaginas on the outside 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."
What is uterine didelphys?
The condition is caused because when a female foetus is growing, the uterus starts out as two small tubes called M llerian 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.
Some also make assumptions about Paige's sex life, which aren't correct.
She often has to assure people that there's no issues in the bedroom with her boyfriend Hugh Hinton, 20.
The student, at Drexel University in Philadelphia, said: "I have a boyfriend right now and everything works in that sense!"
As Paige's uteri are much smaller than usual, she has a higher risk of premature births or miscarriages.
So a doctor has warned that she'll probably need a surrogate if she's to have a baby in the future.
Paige, who now controls her irregular periods with the birth control pill, 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."
Paige is determined to stay optimistic and has found solace by joining an online community with other women with uterine didelphys.
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."
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Paige has more than 300,000 followers on her TikTok channel, @paige.deangelo, where she educates people who have questions about her condition.
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."
- In the News
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