3 Things You Need to Ask Before Taking Metformin for PCOS
So, your doctor gave you the diagnosis of PCOS.
He mentioned something about insulin resistance and handed you a prescription for metformin.
He said that using metformin for PCOS can decrease your level of insulin resistance.
But after all his explanations, you may be still wondering if this medication is right for you.
It may very well be the case. Studies have shown that metformin can decrease the level of insulin resistance, for both PCOS sufferers and diabetics. But like a lot of medications, we’re not necessarily getting to the root of that insulin resistance.
Taking metformin can help many women with PCOS, but before taking that medication, you need to be fully aware of its side effects and how it will affect your body. So to make the most informed decision, it’s important to ask the proper questions to your prescriber.
Because taking metformin for PCOS, just like any other medication, is not something that can be taken lightly.
So here are three questions you MUST consider asking your doc before you give metformin a go.
1. Do I Need Any Other Test Before Starting Metformin for PCOS?
Metformin is broken down by the liver to be eventually excreted by the kidneys through our urinary system. If you already have a poorly functioning liver or damaged kidneys, this drug, like any other drug using the same pathway, may accumulate in your body and further damage your organs. Getting your liver enzymes and kidneys creatinine levels checked with a simple blood test may help you prevent further damaging your organs, should you have any.
It’s very well possible that your doctor won’t agree, saying you’re young and healthy and don’t need those checked. But a close friend of mine found out she has renal insufficient in her 20s. She had no symptoms. Some doctors will tell you that you don’t need those tests, since your young and healthy. I would like everything to be checked before taking a drug that has this much potential. Besides, if you were 100% healthy, your doc wouldn’t have to prescribe this pill. So better be safe than sorry!
2. How Can Metformin for PCOS Affect Me in the Long Run?
This is a valid question since there’s no cure for PCOS. This may mean that you will have to take this pill for probably years to control that insulin resistance. Short and medium-term side effects include transient nausea, diarrhea, and heartburn. These usually resolve after several days or weeks. Long-term studies have shown that metformin, when taken for years, can favor vitamin B-12 deficiency, kidney and liver impairment, more often in people who already had underlying organ problems. Another, rare yet dangerous condition is called lactic acidosis. Lactic acidosis happens when the pH of your blood becomes too acidic due to certain metabolic activities.
Like I just mentioned, the risk to develop lactic acidosis is very low. But I feel like it’s still essential information for someone who takes it to be aware of it. It’s primordial to use the medication as prescribed and getting proper hydration to push the risk of lactic acid further away.
3. Will Metformin Help All my PCOS Symptoms?
You have to ask your doctor what to expect from this medication. For example, Metformin may help with insulin resistance and, sometimes, the regularity of your periods. Some women have also been able to conceive after taking the daily dosage recommended of metformin for PCOS. It may be the reason why the doctor prescribed it in the first place.
But will it help your excess facial hair growth? Will it cure your acne? Will it help you lose weight? These are all questions you need to address so that you and your MD are on the same page. You need to have common goals and understand what to expect from this pharmaceutical regimen. And never forget that you’re allowed to decide that Metformin is not right for you.
You can choose to go the natural route. Or you can decide to try it for six months and re-evaluate if it had a positive impact on you over this period. The point I want to get across is that YOU are in control. You have to understand what you put in it and how it’ll react to you. Take control; you’re the one living in this body. Your doc has to understand that although he can prescribe everything he wants, you’re the one who makes the final decision of buying and taking the medication.
On Top of Metformin…
I would also strongly suggest trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle if it’s not something you’re already working on. There are so many books out there that speak about the ideal PCOS diet and exercises to maximize weight loss if you need to lose weight. It’s a big mistake to think that the medication is going to fix everything for you.
If you decide to take it, or if you’re already on it, choose to see as an aid, rather than a “cure.” In other words, don’t put all your eggs in the same basket. Do everything in your power to control your PCOS, including adopting a healthy lifestyle. This way, if you ever decide Metformin is no longer for you, you won’t be back to square one.
Are you on metformin?
What’s your experience with it?
Please share with us!
Peace, Love, and Health
*Reference and studies on demand