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Diabetes and Birth Control: Facts

written by: DaniellaNicole • edited by: lrohner • updated: 8/28/2010

There are a number of options for birth control, but what about birth control and diabetes? Learn how birth control affects diabetes as well as the safest options of birth control for diabetics.

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    Are birth control and diabetes mutually exclusive? Diabetics can have a lot of questions in regards to their condition, including what other prescriptions can be safely used. Because of the risks of pregnancy while having diabetes or because of a desire simply to avoid conception, diabetics may face the situation of trying to find a safe and effective contraceptive.

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    Diabetes and Contraception

    In a Diabetes Self Management article, Jo M. Kendrick, M.S.N. states that because diabetics have so many other things to worry about, “contraception should be easy.” For that reason, she recommends using those birth control methods that require ‘infrequent administration’. These methods include Depo-Provera injections, Ortho Evra patch, NuvaRing and the Mirena IUD (intrauterine device).

    Other forms can be used, but are recommended when blood glucose levels are consistently regulated. The choice as to which form of birth control to use can be largely a personal choice, with some input from partner and physician.

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    Emergency Birth Control

    In another statement by Ms. Kendrick, she explains that diabetic women who want to use those forms of birth control should also consider keeping a current prescription for emergency birth control, provided no conditions such as unexplained vaginal bleeding exists. Such issues would make emergency birth control usage inadvisable.

    Otherwise, emergency birth control methods such as the pill can be effective and convenient back-ups for contraception.

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    Risks

    There are certain risks that can accompany the use of birth control while having diabetes, since some forms of birth control can elevate blood glucose levels.

    Additionally, those who use certain forms of birth control for one year of more may have a higher risk for other medical complications. These include a higher risk for worsened kidney and eye disease in diabetics who currently suffer from these conditions.

    Similar to the risk for type 2 diabetics who smoke, diabetics who use oral contraceptives can be at a higher risk for blood clots.

    To help reduce the risks, type 2 diabetics who smoke, have high blood pressure or cholesterol, are age 50 or older and who are overweight can use low-dose birth control pills, and monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels on a regular schedule.

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    Summary

    Diabetics can safely use birth control, but which form they use depends upon their preferences, the preferences of their partner, advice from their physician and any existing medical conditions besides diabetes. Birth control and diabetes are therefore not mutually exclusive. Diabetics can safely use at least some form of birth control while also managing their illness.

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    References

    Living with Diabetes. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/women/women-and-diabetes-frequently-asked-questions-faq.html

    New Contraception Options. Monica J. Smith. Updated August 4, 2006. Diabetes Self Management. http://www.diabetesselfmanagement.com/Articles/Sexual-Health/new_contraception_options/

    Unintended Pregnancy Prevention: Contraception. Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). http://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/UnintendedPregnancy/Contraception.htm