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The birth control pill and type 1 diabetes

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I have been experiencing prolonged periods and severe PMS.  I'm considering going on the birth control pill to regulate things.  I've been told by my endocrinologist that this is not a problem since my blood sugars are in control.  My OBGYN says that I shouldn't go on the pill because I have diabetes.  I'm wondering if anyone has been on the pill with type 1 and what their experience has been with how it affects blood sugars.  Also, are there some birth control pills that are better than others for women with type 1?
posted Apr 6 in Conversation by mmmiller42 (130 points)

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5 replies

I've been on BCP for over 10 years. It actually HELPS prevent my diabetes from freaking out during that time of the month. I would highly suggest going on a monophasic low hormone pill like YAZ. Do you have thyroid issues? The BCP can raise your TSH so get your TSH, Free T4 and Free T3 tested.

There is no risk to a diabetic going on the BCP UNLESS you smoke and or have high BP, then there are risks.
answered Apr 7 by ashabrown (1,160 points)
I think every woman is different, and you have to find the right BC pill for you and your diabetes (if you try one, and hate it because it makes you moody, or makes your periods worse or makes your blood sugars crazy - don't give up immediately, just ask to switch to a different one). I've been on loestrin for a long time, and just to try a different option I switched to a pill that also contained progesterone hormone. Then, my blood sugars were absolutely crazy for the next 3 weeks...until I hit the "off week" on the pill pack, and everything normalized. So, luckily it only took one month for me to realize that type of pill doesn't work for my diabetes, and I switched back to Loestrin. But I asked my endo about this progesterone hormone that gave me issues, and she said she's never had another diabetic complain about it, and has plenty that use a progesterone-containing BCP. We're all different, and you have to find a pill that works for you.

I've also used different generics of the same brand (various generics for Loestrin - with the SAME active ingredient) and had very different outcomes - one generic was causing me to get periods every 2 weeks, and awful cramping, and I switched to a different generic (again, same active ingredient!) and I get little to no period each month, with no cramping at all. So you really have to explore your options until you find a pill that makes you feel good! If you can find a good OB/GYN who is aware of your concerns/diabetes, they'll help you find the best option for you.

I've never heard of a doctor not prescribing a BCP because of diabetes - I've actually had endo's that aren't happy if a T1D isn't using BC to prevent unplanned pregnancy (if you're in an intimate relationship)! I suppose they think that an unplanned pregnancy is a higher risk for a diabetic than the hormones in contraceptives. If your OB/GYN is resistant to let you use BC simply because of diabetes, perhaps a second opinion is a good idea.
answered Apr 12 by lcgiffin87 (310 points)
I agree with lcgiffin87: Every person is different!

For me, I stopped taking BC because it was wreaking havoc on my blood sugars (I was mostly low, if I remember correctly). Unfortunately, I don't remember which one I was taking, and I never put in the effort to try different brands. My sister, also T1, is doing well with whatever BC she is taking.

So I don't have any recommendations for specific pills, but I definitely think it's worth trying, with the knowledge that you might need to experiment before you find something that works for your body. Having two doctors on board with this plan will certainly help!

Good luck!
answered Apr 12 by vholcomb (620 points)
I've been Type 1 for almost 25 years and have been on the pill for 15 of them.  I've never really had any issues with the pill itself affecting blood sugar; actually keeps sugars a little tamer during menstruation.  However, you need to find a pill that works for you.  I've been on several different types of birth control and find that the low dose ones have always worked the best for me.
answered Apr 14 by juliew (490 points)
I take a monophasic (same dose every day of the month) pill without any breaks. It has virtually eliminated blood sugar variations from hormones because on the pill they don't fluctuate other the month. It is ... insanely liberating. No period, no mood swings, no pain, etc. It's been 7 years now and I feel like one of the guys now when women talk about how hormones mess everything up, because it isn't something I have to think about anymore.

I take this to control my endometriosis, and it was just a nice side-effect that it also made my diabetes easier.
answered Apr 17 by daytona (900 points)