At a tender age of 16, Joanna Giannouli, now 27 years old, was on the receiving end of a news bound to change her life, and it really did. Her doctors told her that she had no vagina.
Her condition was called Rokitansky syndrome, which is characterized by the absence or underdevelopment of the womb, cervix and vaginal tunnel. While teens at her age were enjoying the prime of their youth, Joanna had to go through a tormenting moment of her life, a condition she had to endure her whole life.
In an article published by BBC, Joanna was born without a functional vagina. It means she cannot experience things ordinary women experience, including menstruation and even sexual intercourse.
This, according to Joanna, has caused a huge impact on her life, as she was growing up. She said her condition jeopardized important aspects of her life, including keeping lasting relationships. She recalled her partner breaking up with her upon finding out about her condition.
Worse, she was once engaged with a longtime partner, but the engagement was called off when she told her ex about her condition. But not everything was a sad story for Joanna. She shared that she had a boyfriend who knew from day one about her condition and accepted her, despite knowing that they may face life without a baby.
In order to at least live a normal life, Joanna underwent a major operation at the age of 16 so she could have sex. The operation was so painful she had to stay in the hospital for weeks, she added.
“I found the strength and courage because I want to help other women in the same position because if we don’t help each other then who will? It gives me strength when I talk about it,” Joanna said, as quoted by BBC.
By openly talking about her condition, Joanna hopes that she encourages women who also have the same illness to let go of fear and seek support.
According to the RareDiseases.Org, the exact cause of this condition, which affects 1 in 5,000 women in the world, remains unknown. But evidence suggests that the condition is considered genetic; that is, an abnormality in the genetic makeup of the woman.