March was a busy month, both for freelance work and over at Hysterical Women, where we had a month-long focus on endometriosis, followed by a Mothers’ Day spotlight on the damaging stereotype of the ‘neurotic mother‘.
I also wrote an Endometriosis Awareness Month piece for Refinery29, looking at why women with the condition still struggle to be taken seriously. Also for Refinery29, I looked at the links between sexism in medicine and the rise of the wellness industry. And, finally, I wrote for Patient about whether PCOS can cause type 2 diabetes.
Every Single Reason Why Women Aren’t Taken Seriously About Endometriosis – for Refinery29:
“My first period looked like a murder scene. It started when I was 10 years old, and I was rolling around in bed in so much pain that it woke me up,” recalls 33-year-old Bridie Apple, founder of the Flow. Grow. Glow. yoga community.
“When my mum turned on the lights, the blood was all along the wall. It had soaked through the whole mattress, and when I put my hands down to my tummy and around my pelvis, it was everywhere,” she says.
That horrifying first period lasted six weeks, during which time Bridie bled so heavily that she was changing a super size pad every half an hour. As for the pain, she says: “It was horrendous. I’d be doubled over, gripping onto things, while my friends just needed a hot water bottle and a bit of chocolate from their mums to cope with their periods.”
What’s the link between PCOS and diabetes? – for Patient:
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is an incurable endocrine condition affecting up to one in ten women in the UK. It’s most commonly associated with hormonal symptoms, such as acne, excess hair growth, weight gain, irregular periods, and reduced fertility.
However, it is also associated with seemingly unrelated long-term health risks, like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In fact, women with PCOS are as much as 40 per cent more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than women without the condition – so what exactly is the link?
According to Libby Downling, senior clinical advisor at Diabetes UK: “Ten to twenty per cent of women living with PCOS will go on to develop type 2 diabetes at some time. This is related to insulin resistance, and high levels of insulin circulating in the blood.”
Is Sexism In Medicine Driving Women To Dangerous ‘Natural’ Cures? – for Refinery29:
Barely a week goes by without another weird and wacky wellness trend hitting the internet – from Kardashian-approved vampire facials to colonics, to an ever-increasing list of things doctors have warned us not to put in our vaginas. But beyond Instagram, what exactly is driving women to try these kinds of alternatives?
Since October, I’ve been running Hysterical Women, a feminist blog exploring women’s experiences of feeling dismissed and let down by their doctors, and I’ve increasingly found myself wondering just how much this disillusionment is driving the $4.2 trillion global wellness industry.
There’s no denying there’s a serious gender health gap. A 2003 study, “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain” concluded that “women are more likely to be less well treated than men for their painful symptoms” and “biases have led health-care providers to discount women’s self reports of pain.”