Birth Control & Type 1
The subject of birth control with relation to Type 1 diabetes has always been a tricky subject, with inconsistent results. Hormones have been known to have an impact on blood glucose levels, but hormones affect everyone differently, so in terms of contraception, what works for one person might be completely wrong for another.
Here are some observations and facts to keep in mind when considering your birth control options while managing your Type 1!
There are a couple of different types of IUDs that will interact with the body differently. The first type is a copper IUD, which is inserted by your doctor, and can last for up to ten years. It is the copper itself that kills the sperm, preventing pregnancy.
The other type of IUD (Mirena) is plastic, and it is a hormonal IUD. It contains the progestin hormone levonorgestrel, which is also used in the “morning after pill,” and it can last up to five years – half the time span of a copper IUD. There have been many reports of the hormones in Mirena causing severe blood sugar changes as well as acne, weight gain, and mood swings.
IUDs in general are not recommended for women who contract pelvic infections easily. Women with Type 1 diabetes with higher A1Cs can be more susceptible to such infections, so it is important to be in excellent control of your Type 1 before considering any IUD.
The ring is a flexible device that is inserted into the vagina and worn for three weeks. It is then replaced after one week of not wearing one. The hormones in the ring are absorbed directly into the vagina, therefore bypassing the digestive system all together. This makes it easier on the body in the sense that it does not need to metabolize the medication like it does with the pill. This seems to have the potential of avoiding certain blood sugar malfunctions that could be tied to metabolizing hormones.
Warning: The makers of NuvaRing advise women who already have any complications from diabetes should not use the ring.
Birth control pills that contain synthetic estrogen and norgestimate are the most widely recommended pill for women with diabetes. Example: Ortho Tri-Cyclen.
This type of pill is less androgenic, which is defined as containing hormones that induce male characteristics. However, depending on your overall health, your doctor may suggest an entirely different method. One pill could be far less intrusive when it comes to blood sugar control for one woman, but wreak havoc for another. It is important to take the time to find the one that is right for your own body.
It is important to keep in mind that women with diabetes have often reported their basal needs to have nearly doubled when starting on the pill, so be prepared to adjust insulin requirements as needed.
The pill is not recommended for women who suffer from heart disease, blood clots, high blood pressure, and women who smoke or are over the age of 35.
Hormones to prevent pregnancy can be injected, but have a higher risk of weight gain, which can cause more insulin resistance.
The Plan B or “morning after” pill is not often recommended for women with diabetes, due to the flood of hormones that is released all at once, as opposed to the steady release that other methods employ. Women who have tried it have reported varying but severe blood sugar malfunctions immediately following.
Diaphragms & Barrier devices
Barrier devices are safe for women with diabetes, as they do not contain any hormones, however, the spermicides used in some of these devices can increase risk of urinary tract infections. Gel and foam barriers used without the spermicides can be used as well, but only have approximately 70% effectiveness compared to the 99% effectiveness of the pill or the ring.