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What is the Connection Between Metformin and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome?

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  • Written By: Kelly Ferguson
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 24 September 2016
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Doctors often explain the link between the medication called metformin and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) to women who have just been diagnosed with the disorder. Many doctors prescribe metformin as a treatment for this disorder. While there is no current cure for polycystic ovarian syndrome, using metformin can help manage the effects of the disorder. Primarily, metformin is taken by women with insulin resistance who are at risk for developing diabetes. It also can help to regulate the excess androgens, or male hormones, in the body that occur as a result of polycystic ovarian syndrome and reduce some of the problems with fertility that some women with this disorder experience.

Insulin resistance and high levels of androgens cause many health and cosmetic problems for women with polycystic ovarian disorder, including acne, hirsutism, and weight gain which leads to obesity and possibly diabetes. The disorder also sometimes affects fertility and makes it difficult for women to have children. By studying metformin and polycystic ovarian syndrome, researchers have determined that this medication can be highly effective in reversing and managing most of these symptoms, helping the patient to lose weight, restore a more feminine appearance, and increase fertility.

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Insulin resistance is perhaps the most urgent problem women with polycystic ovarian syndrome face. It occurs when the body is unable to use insulin, a hormone that lowers the blood sugar, as effectively as it should. When the body becomes resistant to insulin, more insulin is needed to make up for the insufficient usage. If the body reaches a point where it is unable to produce the amount of insulin required to keep the blood sugar under control, it can lead to type II diabetes, a very serious condition. Research studying metformin and polycystic ovarian syndrome has shown that the medication helps to control blood sugar in women with this disorder by reducing the amount of insulin taken from food, reducing the amount of glucose produced by the body, and lowering insulin resistance.

The effects of metformin and polycystic ovarian syndrome should both be monitored periodically by blood tests. Metformin can sometimes cause damage to the kidneys and liver, so it is important to watch out for this and catch it early if it begins to happen. Hormonal levels, including insulin and blood sugar levels, should also be regularly measured to make sure the drug is working properly and that the polycystic ovarian syndrome is under control.

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