Contraception, such as hormonal birth control methods like the pill, the contraceptive injection or an intra-uterine device (IUD) may help prevent pregnancy but will not offer protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). STIs can be better prevented by using a barrier method like a condom or dam.
People with diabetes are sometimes advised against using some of these methods of contraception. This was because contraceptive pills were thought to affect blood glucose and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. There was also a concern that IUDs might cause trauma that would lead to infection, and that people with diabetes would be particularly susceptible to this.
The combined pill (so-called because it contains a combination of oestrogen and progestogen) may still cause some changes in blood glucose levels, more so than the progestogen-only pill (also known as the mini-pill). If you start the pill, your blood glucose levels might become slightly more erratic, but this can usually be corrected easily with your treatment regime.
Implants may be another option, but you should discuss the risks and benefits with your diabetes care team. Some of the side effects of hormonal contraceptives – like high blood pressure – might increase your risk of complications linked to diabetes. For example, if you have diabetes and are a heavy smoker (particularly if you’re over 35) you probably shouldn’t use hormonal birth control at all. This is because a combination of these factors puts you at a higher risk of serious side effects.
Your GP or diabetes care team can give you more information about all the risks involved and will talk through any questions or issues that you want to raise.