The Facts about metformin for PCOS

 
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The prescription drug metformin is one of the most commonly recommended forms of treatment for PCOS.

The reason metformin is prescribed for women with PCOS is because a majority of women with PCOS are insulin resistant or prediabetic. And it is important to stabilize blood sugar levels to avoid long-term health complications like type 2 diabetes.

Just because something is frequently used and recommended doesn’t mean that it is always the best choice.

It important to take the time to understand metformin and how it works for PCOS in order to weigh the pros and cons as to whether it is the right choice for you.

In this article, you will learn the facts about PCOS and metformin so you can make an educated decision about this treatment option.

Let’s dig in!

What is metformin?

Metformin is in a class of prescription drugs called biguanides. It is one of the most widely used medications in the world and one of the most studied.

It is a type of oral medication used to control high blood sugar levels. Metformin is used to treat patients with type 2 diabetes.

 
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While the drug is not listed as a treatment for PCOS, it has become one of the most commonly used medications to treat women with PCOS and insulin resistance.

Metformin is also known by these brand names:

  • Fortamet

  • Glucophage

  • Glucophage XR

  • Glumetza

  • Riomet

 

Since metformin has been a round for a long time, it is a very affordable medication. It won’t break the bank. Most insurance companies will cover it as well. Don’t fret about the cost of it if it something you end up taking.

 

How does metformin work for PCOS?

Metformin’s goal is to decrease your insulin and blood glucose levels.

It works in three ways:

1.      It decreases the amount of glucose produced by the liver.

2.      It works by increasing the cells sensitivity to insulin. The cells can then take insulin into the muscles and use it for energy. This lowers the amount of insulin that remains in the blood.

3.      It decreases the amount of carbs your body absorbs.

 

What are the benefits of metformin for PCOS?

The obvious benefit of metformin is that it lowers your insulin and blood glucose levels.

When you have higher levels of insulin this leads to higher levels of male hormones. And higher levels of male hormones or androgens can cause acne, excess hair growth, hair thinning/loss, and difficulty with weight, and irregular periods. The dreaded symptoms that women with PCOS commonly experience.

Usually, the higher the insulin levels the worse the symptoms present themselves.

If you can keep your blood sugar levels stable, your hormones should begin to balance out and this will help to alleviate PCOS symptoms.

The real key to managing your PCOS successfully it to manage your blood sugar levels.

 

What are the side effects of metformin for PCOS?

Unfortunately, metformin has a lot of unpleasant side effects. These side effects are the reason a lot of women with PCOS don’t want to use metformin.

 
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Side effects include:

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • diarrhea

  • gas

  • bloating/abdominal distention

  • constipation

  • chest discomfort

  • chills, dizziness

  • heartburn

  • physical weakness

  • muscle pain 

  • upper respiratory tract infection

  • low blood sugar 

  • abdominal pain

  • low blood levels of vitamin B-12

  • a rare and serious complication called lactic acidosis.




    Get the guide to that will educate you on PCOS and the best treatments options so you can effectively work with your doctor. Get the care and treatment you deserve.

 
 
 

How do you take metformin for PCOS?

Metformin is taken orally. It comes in a large, white non-coated pill that can’t be split, broken, or crushed.

It is best taken in split doses about 12 hours apart with meals. So, the ideal time would be with breakfast and dinner.

If your insulin resistance or blood sugar levels are severely elevated your doctor may have you take it three times at day.

If you need to take it three times a day, it is recommended to take it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The dosing would be up to your doctor, but doses can range from 500mg-2250mg.

It is recommended that dosage is gradually increased by your doctor. This should help with side effects and help you find the correct dosing needed.

*It is recommended to take with food because of the common gastrointestinal symptoms that occur.


What are some precautions about taking metformin for PCOS?

Individuals with impaired kidney function should not take metformin as it can lead to an increase of lactic acidosis, which is when too much lactic acid builds up in the blood. This can be very serious and fatal.

Metformin is a potent medication and can interact with other medications.

It is important to discuss with your doctor and pharmacist to make sure there aren’t any interactions between any medications you are currently taking.

Metformin interacts with iodinated contrast imaging procedures.

If you are planning to have any surgeries or x-rays where there is injectable dye you will have to stop treatment briefly. It is best to discuss this with your doctor prior to anything being done.

 
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You should not drink alcohol while you are taking metformin. Alcohol consumption and metformin can increase your risk of developing lactic acidosis which can be fatal.

Metformin can affect vitamin B12 absorption. It is important to have your doctor check your levels while you are on the medication, especially with long-term use.

There aren’t a lot of studies about metformin use during pregnancy, and opinions vary. if you are looking to become pregnant or are pregnant please consult with you physician about the use of metformin.

Metformin can pass through breastmilk, so it is not recommended to consume while breastfeeding.

Are there natural alternatives to metformin for PCOS?

Yes, there are natural alternatives to metformin. In fact, studies, have shown that these natural alternatives shown results that are better or just as effective as metformin.

One of the most studied supplements for improving insulin sensitivity is inositol.

These natural alternatives are worth researching and trying first. If you want to learn more about these natural alternatives, I break it all down for you in the articles linked above.

 

Is metformin the right choice for you?

That depends.

What is your lifestyle like?

Have you made any diet and lifestyle modifications first?

Have you tried everything you possibly can?

Only you know these answers.

If you have tried natural methods, made diet and lifestyle modifications, and still can’t control your blood sugars, then metformin probably would be the next step.

If you haven’t really tried eating healthy, exercising, and adding supplements to your regimen then you might want to start there.

At the end of the day, it is best to be informed about the medication, your lifestyle, and what you are willing and not willing to deal with. Have an open discussion with your doctor about the benefits versus the risks.

 Weighing the pros and cons about metformin for PCOS

The commonly prescribed drug metformin is a treatment option for women with PCOS. Hopefully, you have weighed the pros and cons about taking metformin and are educated about your decision. Knowledge is power especially when it comes to your health!

 

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