Diabetes and Birth Control: Finding an Option That Works for You.
Women with diabetes are just as likely to enjoy a happy and healthy pregnancy as those without diabetes. But what about that time before you’re ready to get pregnant? Or what if you simply choose not to have children? It doesn’t change the fact that sex is a natural and wonderful part of life, and if kids are not on the horizon, then it’s important to find the right type of birth control to fit your needs and lifestyle.
There are a wide variety of birth control options on the market today, and, while it may not exactly be fair, most of them are geared toward women’s physiology, placing the birth control decision on your shoulders.
Every woman has to decide for herself which birth control is the right choice. That being said, women who are living with diabetes also have to consider if and how birth control might impact diabetes management and blood sugar control.
In this post, we’ll look at some of the methods of contraception and some facts that might shed some more light on your options.
This pill is a hormone-based contraception that requires a woman to take a small pill daily to prevent pregnancy. There are two primary types. The most common type combines estrogen and progesterone. The other is a progesterone-only pill. Many women choose the pill as in some cases it can relieve menstrual pain and discomfort, as well as promote more regular cycles. Additionally, the pill is about 90% effective with only about 9 in 100 women who take a birth control pill becoming pregnant.
The Pill and Diabetes
For women with diabetes, there’s another consideration when deciding whether or not to take the pill. Some studies have shown that the pill may increase insulin resistance, which is obviously not a positive side effect for those with diabetes. This increase in insulin resistance is believed to be due to the estrogen used in the pill. Other studies have indicated that the pill may contribute to an increased risk of diabetes-related complications, such as kidney disease, eye problems and neuropathy (nerve damage). Finally, adding hormones to your body’s balance can also impact conditions such as depression and anxiety, which have also been linked to diabetes.
Today, there are birth control pills that use synthetic estrogen which are often prescribed to women with diabetes. Or you might want to ask your doctor about progesterone-only pills.
Obviously, the pill does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which is certainly a factor to consider, particularly for those who are sexually active with multiple partners.
If you do choose the pill and are living with diabetes, it’s important to test and track your blood sugar and talk with your physician about any changes that might require altering your diabetes management program.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
An intrauterine device, commonly called an IUD, is a small device made of flexible material that is physically placed inside the uterus by a physician. The procedure usually takes about 15 minutes and depending on the type of device your physician recommends; it could prevent pregnancy anywhere from 3 to 10 years. Once the device is in place, it doesn’t require any daily management, unlike the pill. Though we do realize that remembering to take a single pill each day is probably no big deal for a person with diabetes who tests her blood sugar and manages medication daily, it is an added convenience.
In terms of diabetes, one big plus when it comes to IUDs is that they do not involve any hormone therapy. Therefore, they do not impact blood sugar levels and should have zero bearing on your diabetes management plan. They are, however, long-term, and sometimes costly contraceptive solutions depending on how much your individual insurance covers the procedure. Planned Parenthood says the cost for an IUD procedure can be anywhere from $0 to $1300 based upon your insurance plan.
These devices work just as effectively for those who have had children as they do for those who have not. Plus, if you do decide you want to get pregnant, fertility returns to normal after an IUD is removed by a healthcare professional.
Though extremely rare, there is a small risk of infection and other complications as this is a medical procedure. Like the pill, IUDs do not protect against STDs.
The Depo Shot
The Depo-Provera shot is an injection that a woman gets every 3 months to prevent becoming pregnant. The shot contains the hormone progestin, which prevents ovulation. With no egg in the fallopian tube, a woman cannot become pregnant. Additionally, the shot works by making cervical mucus thicker, so sperm can’t easily get through. When the sperm and the egg can’t unite, pregnancy can’t happen.
Women can start using the Depo Shot at any point. However, if the shot is given within the first 7 days after the start of her period, a woman is immediately protected from getting pregnant. If begun at any other time in the cycle, it takes about a week for the shot to effectively prevent pregnancy.
While extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, the shot does not prevent STDs. Additionally, you have to commit to seeing your healthcare provider every 12-13 weeks to get your shot, which can be rather inconvenient, particularly as someone with diabetes who is already seeing a physician regularly.
In terms of diabetes management, due to the hormones in the shot, there is a risk of weight gain, which can contribute to an increase in insulin resistance. Your diabetes physician will likely ask you to closely monitor your blood sugar in the days and weeks following your initial shot.
One more consideration to think about. If you decide you want to get pregnant, it will probably take a good year before your fertility returns to normal. It will return, but not right away as with an IUD.
Sometimes the old ways still work great and that’s the case with condoms. Typically made from thin latex, plastic or animal skin, condoms are worn around the man’s penis while having sex. It’s a simple science. Sperm is kept inside the condom; it cannot enter the uterus; therefore, pregnancy can’t happen.
In terms of diabetes management, condoms are a zero-impact contraceptive. They will not alter your metabolism, hormone balance, insulin resistance or blood sugar in any way. They protect against STDs, don’t require a doctor’s prescription, and are relatively affordable.
Today’s condoms are about 85 percent effective. It is possible for them to break or tear during sex, which obviously renders them ineffective. However, because they are effective at preventing STDs, it’s quite common for a woman who is on the pill or another form of birth control to also require her partner to wear a condom.
In the end contraception is an entirely personal decision. What works best for you is what works best for you. Still, as a woman with diabetes, there are other considerations beyond just finding an effective way to prevent pregnancy. It’s important to make sure your contraceptive choice does not negatively impact blood sugar and diabetes management. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk with your physician, discuss your options, and find the form of birth control that best fits your lifestyle and needs.
We hope you found this post informative. At Diabetic Warehouse, we’re committed to helping those with diabetes manage blood sugar with a complete selection of testing and treatment supplies at prices up to 65% less than those found at most pharmacies and suppliers.
Diabetic Warehouse is a trusted supplier of diabetes care products and accessories. For more information and to explore a complete range of products, including glucose meters and test strips, insulin syringes, pen needles, continuous glucose monitoring systems, and more, visit www.diabeticwarehouse.org.