A woman who was born without a womb, cervix and vagina has spoken out about the condition which means she’ll never be able to have children .

Joanna Giannouli, 27, was unaware she had Rokitansky syndrome until she went to see a doctor after she hadn’t started her period like her other girls her age, The Mirror reports.

Medics discovered she didn’t have a vaginal tunnel and sent her for major surgery at the age of 17 to create one in order for her to have sex .

Rokitansky syndrome, which affects one in 5,000, means a woman is born with an underdeveloped or absent womb, cervix and upper vagina but have ovaries and external genitalia and still develop breasts and pubic hair.

The operation to create a vagina was revolutionary in Athens, Greece, where Joanna lives, but it left her in a lot of pain as the tunnel was ‘narrow and small’ and she had to go back to have the entrance expanded.

Joanna told BBC Magazine’s Harry Low : “It steals your happiness, your mentality, your chances of having a good and stable relationship.

“It leaves you with a huge void that cannot be filled, it fills you with anger, guilt, and shame.”

But now 10 years on from her operation she says that while she still has her battles, she’s not ashamed anymore as she’s realised there’s nothing that can be done to change it.

“I would love to be a mother in some way, be it a biological, a surrogate mother or a foster mum. A mother is not the one who gives birth but is the woman who cares for a child.”

By speaking out it has given her strength and courage and she wants to help other women in the same position.

Share your comments below.

Image via BBC News

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  • Thats really sad, but your also brave to speak out well done


  • She is a very brave and strong young woman and she is right – being a mother is nurturing a child not necessarily giving birth to it.


  • Good for her! So fantastic that she has come to terms with her situation, and that she understands the true definition of ‘Mother’. :D Thanks for sharing!


  • i had never heard of this before. i hope that she can one day fulfill her dream of being a mother.


  • She’s right being given the title “Mother” its all about semantics whether it be biological, surrogate or foster.


  • Wow, wishing this strong young woman every happiness for the future.


  • I hope her dream comes true and she becomes a Mum regardless of how it occurs. I wonder what procedure they would have to use to retrieve eggs if there is any. Failing that, if she wishes to I hope she can adopt a baby. The problem with fostering is sometimes it can change from long term to short term at very short notice and I am certain she would really struggle with that.


  • She is so very correct when she says that a mother is the one that cares for the child. The one that loves the child.


  • I cannot imagine being born with basic body parts missing. Well done to this young girl for having the courage to speak out about it, a sign (I hope) that age is dealing with it


  • What a brave yound lady for speaking out. I hope she gets to adopt a beautiful baby


  • 1 in 5000 is a lot of women who suffer. So good to see she has the courage to speak out and help others. She sounds like a caring, compassionate and strong woman.


  • An incredibly strong woman. It can be devastating to have any kind of condition that affects your womanhood or manhood. That threatens your physical and sexual identity. Hats off to her for continuing to seek the best health care and resolutions to her condition.


  • What a terrible syndrome! I’ve never heard about it before.


  • When I started to read this I didn’t understand how you would not know, but then reading on to see that externallly everything would appear normal. I hope that, given she has ovaries, she can have a biological child via surrogacy <3


  • How sad – this would have so many emotional repercussions.


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