If You Have PCOS or Diabetes, Is Metformin (Glucophage) Your Best Choice?

Should you take metformin -- nor not? Is there a better alternative? This page will answer your questions.

It's an anti-diabetic drug sometimes used to treat PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), although it is used chiefly to help control Type 2 diabetes.

This drug offers both benefits and significant risks.

The FDA has approved it only for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes. Because of this limitation, some physicians don't have much clinical experience using Glucophage to treat PCOS and don't always feel comfortable using it unless you have diabetes.

13 Side Effects of Metformin Your Doctor Didn't Tell You About

Did you know that metformin has at least 13 under-recognized side effects? Some of them can be serious. Read more about the side effects.

Can't Tolerate It? Try This!

Medical research is now showing that there are natural alternatives to this and other drugs for treating PCOS, diabetes or metabolic syndrome. So if you're uncomfortable with the idea of taking Glucophage for years to come, or you've tried it but can't tolerate its side effects, take a look at the natural alternatives that are just as effective as metformin.

Does It Reduce PCOS Symptoms?

Some medical guidelines say it is not the first thing you should try for controlling PCOS. However, it may be helpful IF you have insulin resistance. Read more…

Take Supplemental Vitamin B12!

Recent research is showing that you will develop a vitamin B12 deficiency if you take metformin for over a year or so. A deficiency in vitamin B12 could have undesirable consequences if for fetal development if you're pregnancy or trying to become pregnant. Read more…

Is It Appropriate for Girls?

As girls and teenagers start to have trouble with their weight, irregular periods, early appearance of public hair, hirsutism, or various indications of insulin resistance, physicians may choose to prescribe metformin. But is that really a good idea?

Is It Appropriate to Take if You're Pregnant?

Metformin is sometimes prescribed to pregnant women as a way to reduce pregnancy complications like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia or preterm delivery. However, it's is not officially approved for these situations. Plus, how do we know that it is effective and free of risk? Could your baby be affected?.

What Are Its Benefits?

Possibly your doctor just told you to starting taking Glucophage without really telling you much about its possible benefits. Here's a list of the benefits.

How Does It Work?

It appears to work in three ways.

First, it decreases the absorption of dietary carbohydrates through your intestines.

Second, it reduces the production of glucose by the liver.(2) The liver uses the raw material in your food to create a reserve supply of blood sugar. When your body experiences stress, the liver releases the reserve glucose to supply your brain and muscles with an immediate source of energy to cope with the stress. Glucophage suppresses the production of this reserve fuel.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, it increases the sensitivity of muscle cells to insulin.(2) Insulin is the hormone that delivers glucose into your cells to be burned as fuel, or stored.

Women with PCOS frequently have "insulin resistance", a condition where excessive amounts of insulin are required in order to get blood glucose moved into cells, where it belongs. Glucophage helps your body to transport glucose with relatively less insulin, thus lowering your insulin levels.

Insulin resistance is a root cause of both PCOS and diabetes. Read more about insulin resistance here.

Chronically high levels of glucose and insulin in your blood is a primary reason why you can't control your weight, have infertility problems, and why you're more likely to develop heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes.

Formulations

You may be taking any of these brands of metformin: Glucophage XR, Fortamet, Riomet, Obimet, Glumetza, Gluformin, Diabex, Diaformin, or Dianben.

There are two basic forms: immediate release and slow release.

The immediate release formulations are available as 500 mg, 850 mg, and 1000 mg tablets.

The slow release form, such as Glucophage XR, is available in 500 mg and 750 mg sizes and you can take it just once a day. The purpose of the slow release form is to reduce metformin's most notorious side effect, which is the disturbance of your GI tract.

The usual dose is 850-1,000 mg twice daily. The maximum safe dose is thought to be 850 mg three times daily. To minimize GI upset or diarrhea, it's recommended that you start with a low dosage and work your way up to the recommended dose.

Glucophage XR, an extended-release version of Glucophage, allows you to take only one dose a day. The slower release of Glucophage XR may help to reduce stomach upset that may occur with the regular formula.

Glucophage is chemically identical to generic metformin, so you can save money by using the generic.

footnotes.

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