When Wendy began having periods in her teen years, she was in so much pain during her monthly cycle that she would be in bed for days. At first, her family didn't know why she was in such agony. Although she was born with just one kidney instead of two, her parents didn't realize that Wendy had other anatomical differences as well. So they took her to the doctor and learned that she had something quite unexpected--a double uterus and double cervix.
Wendy's condition (uterus didelphys) is extremely rare, and it helps to know a bit about fetal development to understand it. In a normal female fetus, the uterus starts out as two tiny tubes. As the fetus develops, the tubes normally join to create a single, hollow organ (the uterus). Sometimes, however, the tubes don't join, and instead, each one develops into its own structure.
The condition affects anywhere from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000 women. And, oftentimes, a woman is not aware of the condition until she has symptoms. Wendy's condition had an additional complication. In one uterus, blood would collect and fill up "like a balloon," according to Wendy. In medical terms, it's known as hematometra.
Because Wendy was in such pain, her physician put her on birth control pills that prevented her from having her period--but the pain didn't stop.
While on vacation in Mexico, Wendy and her family consulted with other physicians at a specialty women's hospital, but they told her none of their surgeons could help her. Wendy would need to find a doctor who specialized in complex gynecological surgery.
After her family's visit to Mexico, Wendy's uncle saw a TV interview with Dr. Camran Nezhat featuring a patient he had treated for severe endometriosis. Her uncle told Wendy she should find out more about Dr. Nezhat--perhaps he could help. So, Wendy went to Dr. Nezhat's website and watched all of his patient videos. Although their initial insurance plan (Kaiser) didn't allow them to see outside specialists, Wendy's family eventually switched their insurance so that Wendy could see Dr. Nezhat.
Dr. Nezhat performed Wendy's surgery on January 26, 2012, at El Camino Hospital. He removed the second uterus that was causing Wendy so much pain. Although it has been less than two months since her surgery, she says she is doing great. "I don't have any pain any more when I have my period. I can't believe the difference," says Wendy. "And they tell me I can still have children," she adds cheerfully. Wendy is now 20 and attending a community college near her home in Redwood City.
Wendy's parents are beyond thrilled that their daughter can finally have a normal life, without the debilitating pain that would keep her in bed for days. And they will always remember when Dr. Nezhat came out after the surgery and told them with a smile: "I fixed your daughter!" What a wonderful moment indeed.