Monday, 26 January 2015

Let's Talk About The Pill.

This post has a pretty obvious audience. And will mention girl stuff like periods. Depending on your level of comfort when it comes to sharing, it could be seen as borderline TMI - putting that out there now! Also, please remember that I am not a medical professional. Information in this post reflects my experiences only, and links to other sources should not be considered medical advice either. We good?!

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About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to go on the Pill. I'm not seeing anyone right now, so my reasoning for it isn't for contraception, but to help regulate my period (I told you - specific demographic with this one!) Pre-pump, I knew exactly when I was going to get my period. I had no need for a diary or calendar, because my blood sugars would tell me when I was due. Slightly higher a few days before, and then bottoming out, and being able to eat tons of crap food without seeing the horrible blood sugar peaks (well, stupid-high blood sugar peaks - no higher that 10mmol, usually).

However, since getting my insulin pump, things haven't been as predictable. Actually, things haven't been predictable at all. It wasn't something that bothered me too much when I was at uni, but now I'm working, it's becoming to be a bit of a problem. I can't just take time off because of my period. But when you don't have one for a couple of months, then get caught off-guard, it's not the most pleasant of experiences, one that results in me wanting to curl into a ball and shut the rest of the world out. No can do in the working world. So painkillers and tea are what I turn to.

I did a lot of research on this (and by a lot, I mean went in search of real-life stories, and pretty much drew a blank - nonetheless, please see the various hyperlinks in this paragraph) before booking my appointment with the sexual heath nurse (at my GP surgery, you have to see a "sexual health nurse" for things like the Pill, even if it's not for sexual health reasons). Long story short, I found that I had the option of all forms of contraception. I'd decided a long time ago that the Pill was what I wanted to use, purely and simply because if it caused fluctuations in blood sugars, I could switch types of Pill (there are two types of pill if you  didn't know - Combined Pill (progesterone and oestrogen) or a Progesterone Only Pill (aka the POP or Mini Pill) or even brand of pill. As effective as the other solutions are (injections, coil, implant), they aren't as easy to switch should I want to.

My consultant had said to me time and time again that the Pill is something I could use, for both contraception and regulation of my periods ("better the Pill than an unplanned pregnancy!" she always says to me). So I made an appointment to discuss the matter further with the sexual health nurse. It all looked promising until I mentioned diabetes. Here's the thing: in my experience, you say the word "diabetes" to a health care professional that doesn't specialise in diabetes, they freeze up. Not only had I said "diabetes", but I had also said "insulin pump". Before I knew it, I was being told that I may have to wait as the nurse wanted to get a second opinion. Two days later, I received a call asking me to go back in to see a doctor to discuss the matter further as "there's much debate as to whether people with diabetes should use the Pill."

Now, I understand that everyone is different (your diabetes may vary and all that), but I was confused as to why I was being referred to another doctor for a second opinion. My diabetes consultant told me the Pill was safe to use, and people I know, pancreatically-challenged like myself, are currently using the Pill, or have used it in the past. This is what has led to this post. I read a number of diabetes blogs. And you can find info on life with diabetes, parenting with diabetes, pregnancy and diabetes, sex and diabetes, but nothing (from what I could Google) about the Pill and diabetes. So here I am, putting my experience out there on the interweb.

Before the aforementioned second (second!) appointment to discuss this, I phoned my DSN to double-check my facts. Like I've said, each person is different, but in my case she was more than happy for me to go on the Pill. I asked her to send my GP surgery a letter, and a copy to myself to take to the appointment. I asked the second-opinion-doctor why there was concern about me going on to the Pill, and was told that it's to do with the increased risk of blood pressure and blood clot problems when taking a Combined Pill - these are risks for anyone that wants to go on the pill, but the risk is higher if you also have diabetes. The POP is the safer option. Or so I've been told (again, can I ask that you please, please, don't take this as solid-gold medical information!)

That's the one I've been prescribed. Getting it wasn't as straightforward as I thought it would be, but I got there eventually. I've been given a month's worth, and I need to go back when that's running out to have a review (blood pressure, weight, and to discuss the effect on my blood sugars). Providing the nurse and/or doctor (and my consultant, as I'm thinking now I'll email her my blood sugars to get her opinion too) are happy with things, I'll then be given three months' worth.

Now, I'm awaiting my next period so I can start the course of pills. Being irregular at the moment, I have no idea when this will happen. Actually, knowing my luck, after all this, I'll probably be on time! Sod's law, right?!

So, ladies, what are your experiences when it comes to the Pill?

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