Is Type 1 Diabetes harder on women?

Vanessa Bolosier
Vanessa Bolosier

Sexist question one might think… Diabetes is diabetes, why would a chronic condition discriminate?

I don’t live with diabetes. However, I’m committed to supporting the mission Quin embarked on 4 years ago. This led me to wonder how different the experience of living with diabetes is whether you’re male or female. So I asked our founder, Isabella and our Head of Operations, Esme. Turns out, there are plenty differences.

So with International Women’s Day around the corner, I decided I needed to investigate a bit more. I looked online and women like Renza highlighted issues I certainly didn’t know about, but most importantly hadn’t emerged in my initial research about what it’s like to live with diabetes in my first 6 months of working for Quin.

The side effects of diabetes for women

Insulin-treated diabetes has major side-effects on women. Yet, as Renza points out in the tweet below, some of these issues – such as sexual health – are under researched and barely discussed by healthcare providers.

quin_diabetes_sex_womanWhen asking, the answers were different for every woman with diabetes I talked to. Body image, being stared at, sex, menopause, pregnancy, love… All these themes emerged as the conversations went on and I felt the anecdotes needed to be captured and shared.

Luckily, two wonderful women agreed to discuss these on camera.

Kate Parsley, has been living with type 1 diabetes for over 20 years, and does online advocacy and offers coaching support to other people with diabetes. She’s a public health practitioner so she embraced the opportunity to not only share her story, but also give a voice to women living with a condition many don’t understand. 

Zoe Morris, was diagnosed later in life. She also feels being a woman with type 1 diabetes has many disadvantages men wouldn’t have to face, and being a mum carries even more stigma when accessing health services. She talks about her journey in her blog, The blog of a Type 1 diabetic.

International Women’s Day

So as we celebrate International Women’s Day — and this year’s theme is #BalanceForBetter — I invite you to listen to these women’s voices and do what you can to foster change. They – of course – do not claim to summarise the experience of all women with diabetes and there will be disparities. Some women with diabetes might feel they never experienced any of these issues, but everyone deserves to be heard. To those who faced these challenges, we believe you.

So if you’ve been discriminated against, patronised, stared at, or just been dismissed as damaged not only because of diabetes but also because you are a woman, please rest assured that equally there are people out there who see you, appreciate you, value you, support you and admire you.

Quin x Women

Everything we’re doing at Quin is for you. Whether it is amplifying Kate’s and Zoe’s voices and ensuring women like you are heard, or just working away tirelessly – as a female founded tech company – using science, engineering and design to support men and women living with insulin-treated diabetes. We hope to turn your very human experience into new science that can advance diabetes research. We’re a long way from achieving that ambitious goal, but we believe that with your help, feedback, and contribution to our research and our app, we will get there.

Happy International Women’s day.

Vanessa Bolosier
Vanessa Bolosier