Diabetes and Birth Control, what’s my best option?

I am 18 days away from my 41st birthday and 100% sure that I’m done having babies. My 3 boys fill my life with happiness and craziness and lots of love, and I am absolutely filled to the brim. Sometimes there is barely enough time in my day to take a shower, so the thought of another baby makes my body freeze with fear. However, I haven’t been on birth control since I got married and I don’t want to start now.

As a woman with diabetes I figure I’ve got enough to keep track of…between testing my blood sugar around the clock, wearing a pump and counting every carb I put in my mouth, I don’t want to add birth control pills (and their side-effects) to my routine. My husband has agreed to have a vasectomy, but I was stunned by how much they cost ($800-$1200). What’s a girl to do?

In a Diabetes Self Management article from 2006, Jo M. Kendrick, MSN a clinical instructor at the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and author of Diabetes in Pregnancy (a guide for nurses), says reliable birth control is a must.

Kendrick is a proponent of methods that require infrequent administration, such as the NuvaRing, the Mirena intrauterine device, the Ortho Evra patch, and Depo-Provera contraceptive injections. “With all the other things that women have to think about when they have diabetes, contraception should be easy.” She also encourages women with diabetes to keep a current prescription for emergency birth control, as long as they do not have any special conditions, such as unexplained vaginal bleeding, that make the use of emergency contraception unsuitable.

An article from My Optimum Health says that oral contraceptives are better for women younger than 35 years old:

Are birth control pills safe for you?
Because you have diabetes, you are at risk for serious health threats, such as heart disease and nerve and kidney damage.

If you have any of these complications, birth control pills made with the hormones progestin and estrogen may not be good choices. These are called combined oral contraceptives. The combined pills may have some harmful effects on blood sugar and cholesterol levels. They may also raise your risk for other complications from your diabetes. Progestin-only pills may be a safer option, with your doctor’s guidance.

Experts say oral contraceptives should only be prescribed for women with diabetes who:

  • Do not smoke, and are younger than 35 years old
  • Do not have high blood pressure
  • Do not have diabetic nephropathy (kidney damage)
  • Do not have diabetic retinopathy (eye damage)
  • Do not have other vascular disease

Note that using birth control pills also may raise blood sugar levels. If you use them for more than 1 or 2 years, your risk of diabetes complications may increase.

I’m lucky that my husband is willing to get a vasectomy and regardless of the cost, it’s our best option. Now I just need to give him the good news 😉

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