Diabetes and Birth Control: What You Should Know

sisterSTAFF Blog

Diabetes and Birth Control: What You Should Know

Hi Sisters!  As many of you who are Facebook friends/Twitter followers probably know, I just returned from a visit to San Francisco to scope out locations for our 2013 Conference and Los Angeles to meet with Natalie Strand to sign our book contract to write co-author a book on women and diabetes for the ADA (to be released in early 2014).  I think we have found the location for the 2013 Conference in San Francisco (thanks to Lori Veliquette for her assistance). I also had the pleasure of attending the PODS Meetup in Novato, CA!  Wow!  What a great experience to see something we started here in Raleigh going on on the other side of the country!  Chris and I walked away with so much information to help us in planning for the 2013 Conferences and Partner’s Perspective Programs.  Everyone was so welcoming and friendly—just as a “true” sisterhood should be!

I have always LOVED Los Angeles and our time there certainly did not disappoint!  I not only met with Natalie Strand, but I also met with Kyrra Richards—both are such inspirational women with diabetes.  Nat won the 17th Season of the Amazing Race (as the first female team and the first person with diabetes to win!) and served as our keynote speaker at the 2012 Conference in Raleigh.  Kyrra started her own company, called myabetic) to offer stylish purses to carry diabetes supplies to women with diabetes.  Chris and Summer were with me, so we also got to spend some time exploring L.A. and the surrounding area.  We rented a convertible and drove to Calabasas one day just see the town that we hear so much about.

Tomorrow is my 3-month check-up with my diabetologist. You may or may not know that I had thyroid cancer back in 2009/2010.  As a result, I no longer have a thyroid and take synthroid.  After my last visit with my endocrinologist regarding my thyroid (about a month ago), she called me and said that she could not really make sense of my labs.  My thyroid levels were totally out of whack.  My TSH was high and my FreeT4 was also high.  Normally, if your TSH is high, your Free T4 is low.  She asked me if I had been taking my Synthroid every day or if I had missed a few doses.  “No, I’m pretty religious about taking it,” I replied.   Immediately, I thought it might have something to do with the IUD that I had just had removed.  (The IUD had just caused me so many problems that I thought it might have something to do with my thyroid—especially since the female hormones are closely intertwined with the endocrine hormones.

 

I immediately began researching the topic on the internet.  After a few hours of research, here is what I uncovered:  (NOTE: THIS IS IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR EVERY WOMAN WITH DIABETES)

First, it's important to understand tht the use of any form of birth control that uses hormones throws off the body’s natural hormonal balance between progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone.  With the Mirena IUD, progestin (a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone) is deposited in the woman’s body via the IUD.  This throws off the body’s natural hormone balance with an overabundance of progesterone.  Too much progesterone causes symptoms such as trouble sleeping, weight gain, irritability, thinning hair, and lack of sex drive (all of the things that made me want to have the IUD removed). When I had the IUD removed, my body overcompensated for the extra progesterone in my system by releasing large amounts of estrogen into my system (in an attempt to balance it back out).  Unfortunately, when there is an excessive amount of estrogen in the body, it causes issues with the absorption of the thyroid hormone.  THIS is what caused my thyroid levels to be so strange!  In my research, I found many other women who had experienced thyroid issues (not just women with diabetes) after they stopped birth control pills/IUDs that used hormones.

 

I am very disappointed (and a bit angered!) that there is not more information about this topic (birth control and diabetes) for women with diabetes.  This is critical information and research NEEDS to be done so that women with diabetes can make informed decisions when choosing birth control options.