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PCOS and Metformin

There are several treatment options for PCOS; metformin is one of the medications that can treat the condition. Treating PCOS is considered an "off-label" use of metformin because the medication has not been approved for this use. However, metformin has been shown to increase the chance of pregnancy in women with PCOS and infertility problems. Metformin has also been shown to reduce the chance of miscarriage in women with PCOS who continue taking the medication during pregnancy.

An Overview of PCOS and Metformin

Metformin (Glucophage®) is a prescription medication licensed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. It is also commonly used to treat polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), although it is not approved for this use. In other words, treating PCOS is considered an "off-label" use of metformin.

Using Metformin for PCOS

PCOS is a condition involving a combination of several different symptoms, including:
  • Irregular periods, especially very long menstrual cycles
  • High levels of androgen hormones (male hormones)
  • Small cysts in the ovaries
  • Weight gain
  • Infertility
  • Acne
  • Increased body and facial hair (hirsutism).
Insulin resistance is thought to be one of the causes of PCOS. Insulin resistance is similar to type 2 diabetes and involves the body becoming resistant to the effects of insulin. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, the pancreas is forced to produce much higher levels of insulin in order to control blood sugar. Insulin is a hormone, and changing one hormone often affects many other hormones. Increased insulin leads to several hormonal changes that cause the problems of PCOS.
One of the ways metformin works for diabetes is by decreasing insulin resistance. This is probably how metformin works for PCOS as well. Metformin (alone or in combination with other medications) has been shown to increase the chance of pregnancy in women with PCOS and infertility problems. Also, metformin has been shown to reduce the chance of miscarriage in women with PCOS who continue to take metformin during pregnancy.

More Headlines in PCOS and Metformin

‣ When and How to Use Metformin for PCOS
‣ Summary
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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