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Do you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and are you struggling with your weight? You'll no doubt have heard that Metformin (Glucophage) can help you out. It's positive effects stretch far beyond weight loss, but is Metformin right for you?

Do you suffer from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome and are you obese, as around 44 percent of women with the condition are [1]? 

You can't have missed the multitude of reasons to try to lose weight, ranging from improved insulin and androgen levels, higher self-esteem, and improved fertility [2], to better odds of success during fertility treatments [3] and a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes [4]. 

While there is evidence to suggest that a low glycemic index diet, the best diet plan for PCOS sufferers, is your optimal dietary ticket to weight loss, you may still find that losing weight with PCOS is easier said than done. That is, for many women, where the medication Metformin (Glucophage) comes in — any woman looking for PCOS weight loss solutions online will quickly come across the suggestion to try Metformin to lose weight. 

Is Glucophage really the magic pill for losing weight with PCOS, and what else could the drug do for you?

How Did Metformin Become A Medication Used To Treat PCOS?

Metformin is, primarily, a medication prescribed to people suffering from non-insulin-dependent (type 2) diabetes that doesn't respond to dietary modifications. It decreases intestinal absorption of glucose and improves insulin sensitivity. [5]

Glucophage was first used on PCOS patients in order to discover what role insulin resistance played in the development of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome [6]. Subsequent studies found that the drug had potent positive effects on women with PCOS. Not only was Metformin found to be an effective weight loss medication in women suffering from Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, it was additionally discovered to:

  • Restore ovulation in many women suffering from PCOS, thereby improving their fertility
  • Reduce androgen levels, associated with such PCOS symptoms as excessive hair growth
  • Reduce PCOS patients' risk of miscarriage
  • Reduce the risk of miscarriage in PCOS sufferers
  • Reduce PCOS patients' risk of developing gestational diabetes during pregnancy
  • Improve the outcome of fertility treatments [7]

Now, the reason Glucophage helps women with PCOS lose weight is that it improves the way in which insulin is processed in the body and that it additionally lowers testosterone production. These improvements in combination with achieving a healthy body mass index can, in turn, have many knock-on effects, including:

  • Lowering your risk of developing type 2 diabetes [8]
  • Reducing your risk of developing cardiovascular disease [9]
  • Lowering the high cholesterol levels many women with PCOS suffer from [10]
  • And even reducing your PCOS-related risk of developing endometrial cancer [11, 7]
Metformin, usually sold under the name Glucophage, is, in other words, seemingly the closest thing women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome have to a magic pill — not just for losing weight with PCOS, but for many of the most debilitating effects the syndrome has!

Interested — and perhaps wondering why Metformin isn't prescribed to every woman with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome? Not so fast. 

Could Metformin Be Right For You?

While a significant percentage of women with PCOS do suffer from insulin resistance, not all do by any means. Before your doctor recommends Metformin to you, they will most likely want to obtain evidence that you are indeed suffering from insulin resistance first, since the positive effects of the drug are directly derived from improved insulin efficiency. [7]

Women with PCOS who are interested in using Glucophage specifically to lose weight should also know that Metformin is in no way a replacement for healthy lifestyle and diet adjustments. You still need to learn what foods to avoid if you're trying to lose weight with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, what foods to eat if you're trying to lose weight with PCOS, and engage in regular cardio and strength training exercise in consultation with your healthcare provider.

Research does show that Glucophage and a low glycemic index "support each other", meaning that you are more likely to successfully lose weight with PCOS if you follow a low GI diet while simultaneously using Metformin than if you only receive the benefit of either one of these treatment components [12]. 

If you are not trying to get pregnant, also ask your doctor about hormonal contraceptives, which can likewise help you on your road to weight loss [13]. Morbidly obese Polycystic Ovary Syndrome patients who find themselves unable to lose weight may, meanwhile, also benefit from bariatric surgery. Bariatric surgery has been shown to lead to significantly decreased PCOS symptoms among this group of women. [14]

The Bottom Line

If you're an obese woman with PCOS who's set reduced PCOS symptoms and improved fertility as your goals, you don't immediately have to seek an ideal weight — losing 10 percent of your current bodyweight already offers immense improvements in the regularity of your menstrual cycle and increases your chances of conception. [15]

The path to losing weight with PCOS is certainly a multifaceted one, as it is for any kind of weight loss. Nutrition, exercise, and medication can all play a role on the road to success. Those women with insulin resistance may well find that Metformin is the change that finally helps them achieve their goals while improving their long-term health outcomes at the same time, however. 

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