Metformin will probably be the first thing you hear out of the doctor’s mouth when you receive your diagnosis, so let’s break it down for everyone to understand.
First and foremost Metformin is NOT a fertility drug! Metformin will never stimulate your ovaries and force ovulation like other fertility medications. I understand how it works; there you are trying to conceive monthly and nothing is happening. You go to the doctors and you are told you have PCOS. They hand you a prescription for Metformin and send you on your way. You leave the doctor’s office thinking you hit the jackpot and received a miracle baby making drug. I have been there. We all have. Sadly, this is not what Metformin does per say.
Metformin is diabetic medication. Metformin will work within your body decreasing your insulin resistance and balancing your glucose levels. When your body starts responding to treatment your levels of androgens produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands will begin to decrease. It is when and if your body responds to the Metformin that you may see your cycles balance out and because your androgens (male sex hormones) decrease you may see ovulation return.
You may also be under the misconception that Metformin is a weight loss medication. This is also not true. Metformin alone will not have you dropping pounds without making lifestyle changes. I must stress that this medication works best with help from you. You need to follow a proper PCOS healthy eating lifestyle plan, like you can find on this website, in order to allow Metformin work to the best of its ability within your body. Once your body starts responding to the medication and your hormone and insulin levels balance out you will find the weight easier to lose. This does not happen for all women. Although rare, some women have been known to gain weight while on Metformin. This seems to happen as their levels balance out and their bodies are burning fat faster. This can cause the need to fuel their bodies more often.
Most doctors trained in treating PCOS will prescribe you 2000mg daily. You will build your body up to taking this amount usually by starting at 500mg daily for a few days, then add on mg until you are at your final dose. Metformin comes in a regular release form to be taking at each meal or in extended release form, which most take a full dose once daily. One is not better than the other. It is doctor and patient preference. Both will ultimately work the same way in the body.
A normal side effect to Metformin is an upset stomach and diarrhea. This is the number complaint I receive about Metformin. You can avoid this by taking the medication with healthy proteins and sticking to a healthy lifestyle eating plan. It is also known that Metformin will deplete your bodies B12 levels and should be taking with a supplement.
In my personal opinion, Metformin is currently the only prescription drug for PCOS that I support. Metformin has helped so many of us PCOS ladies in the past. I understand it will cause stomach and bowel issues, but you also have to understand that you need to give your body plenty of time to adjust to being on the Metformin. This can take up to twelve weeks. You also need to remember it is not a miracle drug; unfortunately, no miracle drugs for PCOS currently exist on the market. If you do your part with the healthy lifestyle Metformin can play a huge role in minimizing your PCOS symptoms.
You do not have to be on Metformin for the rest of your life, but while you find a plan that works best for you and while you are beginning your PCOS healthy lifestyle change, the medication will assist you in reaching your goals. There are many natural alternatives for Metformin that can be taken along with or instead of after you start to heal your body more naturally. One of them is Inositol. Follow the next blog post to learn more about Inositol, including recommended dosing and how it worked for me.