Most young women with MRKH will at some point find themselves faced with the decision of whether, when, and how to tell a romantic partner about their MRKH. The decision to tell your partner about your diagnosis is entirely your own, and there is no set rule which fits for all women, in all circumstances. Sharing anything intimate with a partner should be based on trust, communication, caring, and the possibility of a future together, but not all romantic and sexual encounters will have all of these components. It is up to you to use your good judgment to determine whether this is the right thing to do, and when.
To tell or not to tell?
Whether or not you tell your partner will depend on a number of factors. First and foremost, it is important that your partner can be trusted with your personal information and has demonstrated that he or she is generally supportive of you on an emotional level. Sharing this information may cause you to feel vulnerable and you’ll want to know that your partner will be respectful of your feelings. If you are in a relationship with someone with whom you may consider raising a child with in the future, you might choose to have a conversation sooner rather than later about your MRKH so that you can talk about your fertility options. Finally, if you and your partner are considering a sexual relationship, and you have not chosen to create a vagina yet (either with dilation or surgery), it will be important for your partner to be aware of your anatomy so that he or she does not accidentally cause you pain or discomfort. If you have created a vagina, remember that your partner will not feel anything different, so you will have the choice whether or not to discuss your diagnosis.
When is the right time?
While there is no right or wrong time to have this conversation, you may want to consider the level of trust and intimacy that you and your partner have developed before deciding to share your diagnosis. Some women may choose to share this information early on in a relationship because it feels too difficult to keep it to themselves, while other women may choose to wait months or even years before they feel ready to share this very personal information. Only you can decide when you feel comfortable telling your partner about your MRKH, and you are the best judge of when your partner is ready to hear it. As much as your MRKH impacts you, it will also be important to recognize that it will impact your partner too, and they may need some time to adjust to what you have told them. They also may have a lot of questions about what you have shared, so consider telling them at a time when you feel you are ready to answer any questions that may come up.
How do I do it?
Again, the best way to share this information with your partner depends on you and your level of comfort. Some women may choose to share everything about their MRKH right up front, while others may choose to gradually disclose more information over time. For example, if you haven’t created a vagina via dilation or surgery, you may wish to tell your partner that you were born with an incomplete vagina early on but then wait before you discuss the impact of your diagnosis on your future fertility. Alternatively, some women may feel more comfortable sharing that they have an absent uterus but wish to wait before telling their partner that they were born with an incomplete vagina. Keep in mind that if you have not had treatment, a sexual partner may need to know this information to avoid unintentionally causing you pain. If you think it would be helpful, you might consider printing information about MRKH for your partner to read.
Finally, remember that you are not alone in this. It can be extremely helpful to talk with other women who have MRKH to hear about when and how they have had similar conversations with their partners. Your health care team is also available to answer any questions you might have or help you talk through your decision. In the end, the most important aspect of this decision is that you feel comfortable and confident having this conversation with your partner. Keep in mind that sexuality is only one part of a well-rounded and healthy relationship, and sharing this information with your partner can lead to a richer, deeper, and more intimate connection where you both can be open to talking about your feelings, desires, and needs. Your partner will likely feel honored that you trusted them enough to share this information, and you will probably breathe a sigh of relief at no longer feeling like this is something you have to keep secret.
What if it doesn’t go well?
While these guidelines can help make the process of sharing your diagnosis with a partner go more smoothly, it can be difficult to predict how this conversation will unfold. There may be some situations where, despite your best efforts, the discussion does not go as planned. Remember that your partner’s initial reaction is coming from a place of surprise and maybe even shock, and the feelings and thoughts they express right away may not be the same as those they experience after they’ve had some time to process the information. After all, you have had time to prepare exactly what you want to say to your partner but they have not had any time to prepare their response, so it’s important to give them some time and space to take in what you’ve shared with them and organize their thoughts about it. It takes a certain level of maturity for an adult to understand and process medical information. Unfortunately, you may come in contact with some people who are judgmental or have not had experience dealing with medical issues and therefore their reaction may not be supportive or fair. If you find that your partner makes you feel bad or is not able to be supportive of you and your MRKH, know that you are worthy of far more than what that partner has to offer. You deserve to be with a partner who loves you and accepts you for who you are in every respect and you WILL find that person. In the meantime, you have access to a community of women who share your diagnosis and who will be there for you as you process feelings about MRKH at different points in your life.