Which Hormonal Contraception is Best For Women with Diabetes?

As we all know, living with a chronic condition like diabetes can complicate other aspects of a person's life, too. For example, a woman with diabetes may face limited options when she decides to begin using birth control.

In fact, many physicians express reluctance to prescribe their patients any form of hormonal contraceptive. This is due to the increased risk for heart attacks, strokes and blood clots that birth control can bring – conditions that many women with diabetes already have an increased risk for.

But now, thanks to a study from the University of California – Davis, diabetic women everywhere just may have their answer.

Studying Contraceptives

This team of researchers sought to find out just how great the risk of cardiovascular events were for diabetic women across the birth control spectrum. They collected data from over 15 million people in the United States, and then analyzed the data between 2002 and 2011. Ultimately, they collected a study sample of nearly 150,000 reproductive-aged women, all of whom had type 1 or type 2 diabetes and were on some form of hormonal birth control.

The study findings were incredibly eye opening; cardiovascular events were relatively low across the board, with only 6.3 events per 1,000 women each year. When researchers broke down the data by contraceptive method, they found that IUDs and subdermal implants showed the lowest risks. Estrogen patches and progestin-only injections did actually show signs of increased risks, but only slightly.

Educating Women

Of course, a vast majority of diabetic women (72 percent to be exact) were not prescribed contraception of any kind – a statistic that study authors Sarah O'Brien and Eleanor Bimla Schwartz say is due to physicians' failure to provide these women with information and options.

"This was alarming, since women with diabetes become pregnant as often as other women," O'Brien said. "Pregnancy timing is critical for women with diabetes. It's best to carefully plan pregnancies and ensure that the diabetes is under good control, because high sugars can cause an increased chance of birth defects."

"The next step,” Schwartz added, “is to understand the best ways to share this information with women who have diabetes and make sure they are consistently offered a full range of contraceptive options.”

Source: Science Daily

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