How does Metformin help treat PCOS?

How does Metformin help treat PCOS?
Published : Feb 05, 2024
Last Updated : Feb 07, 2024

Polycystic ovary syndrome is often a common disorder of the endocrine system that affects almost 4 and 12 percent of women across the world. Since there are several complications linked with polycystic ovary syndrome, Metformin is the commonly prescribed medicine to treat this hormone disorder.

What is Metformin?

For the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus, Metformin is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This medicine is also approved by the American Diabetes Association for treating prediabetes conditions and can be prescribed by the doctor to treat PCOS. 

Metformin belongs to a class of drugs which is known as biguanides. This medicine works to control your blood glucose levels by stopping the liver from creating excess sugar.

In this way, Metformin decreases how much glucose your intestines absorb and increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin. At online medical stores, Metformin is sold as a generic and under the brand name Fortamet and Glucophage.

How does metformin help in the treatment of PCOS?

It is important to know that PCOS is a hormonal disorder that women experience during their reproductive or childbearing age. This disorder can cause extended or occasional periods or raised levels of androgens in the body.

Also, small follicles or cysts can develop inside the ovaries. This further can stop the release of eggs regularly (ovulation). One of the major factors that might play a role in developing PCOS is the production of an excess amount of insulin in your body.

Insulin aids the cells of your body to use glucose or sugar. In case, your body cells become insulin resistant, blood glucose levels start to rise and cause more insulin to be produced.      

Metformin is also effective in the treatment of PCOS by improving the sensitivity of your body to insulin.

In this way, the levels of circulating insulin are decreased and a positive effect on your adipose tissue is produced.

Being a woman, if you suffer from raised BMI then doctors usually suggest metformin. However, it is noticed that the response of this medicine for women with PCOS is quite better in people experiencing lower BMI.

Also, Metformin is effective as an ovulation induction treatment in non-obese women who suffer from anovulatory PCOS.

Metformin can also produce various other positive effects in women suffering from PCOS like reduction in weight and its risk of developing diabetes mellitus.   

Metformin also decreases levels of circulating androgen and provides relief from hyperandrogenic symptoms like acne and hirsutism. Intake of Metformin can decrease the risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome in females with PCOS who undergo IVF.

Is it safe to consume Metformin? What potential side effects do you need to consider?

When it comes to treating PCOS, Metformin is generally the safe medication. However, the main unpleasant effects that you can experience during your treatment with Metformin for PCOS usually include gastrointestinal symptoms.

Some of the symptoms include diarrhea, nausea, metallic taste, flatulence, abdominal pain, bloating, and anorexia.  

Remember Metformin can also lead to malabsorption of vitamin B12 in your small intestine. In rare cases, women with diabetic problems can suffer from lactic acidosis.   

For PCOS, Metformin is usually a safe medicine for women with PCOS. Though the seriousness of the side effects can differ from patient to patient in the majority of cases, symptoms get better after some days. 

You can start taking Metformin for PCOS slowly in order to decrease the severity of side effects. Gradually start increasing the dose when the severity of your symptoms decreases.

Doctors, do not recommend the intake of Metformin tablets for women suffering from the following medical conditions:

  • Chronic or acute metabolic acidosis
  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Impaired liver function
  • Hypersensitivity to the medicine (Metformin)
  • Congestive heart failure

What precautions and risks do you need to consider when taking Metformin?

Metformin is mainly taken for the long term, usually for a few months or years. The biggest risk linked with taking this medicine for the long term is anemia. Make sure you inform the doctor about all other prescription medicines and herbal supplements you take.  

Metformin comes with some possible drug interactions which can further increase your risk of experiencing severe events. Here are some drug interactions with metformin that you must know:

  • Cephalexin
  • Bupropion
  • Dolutegravir
  • Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors
  • Cimetidine
  • Glycopyrrolate
  • Dolutegravir
  • Ethanol (alcohol)

What are the other options to deal with PCOS?

Though there is no cure for PCOS, but it can be managed with the right combination of dietary, and lifestyle changes, and medicines.

When it comes to treating the condition of PCOS, the main emphasis is on managing symptoms like infertility, acne, hirsutism, and infertility. Some of the main treatments involve lifestyle changes and the intake of medications like metformin.

Lifestyle changes

One of the primary treatments recommended by doctors is making changes in your lifestyle like losing excess weight via exercise and diet. Even losing a little body weight can contribute to improving your PCOS condition. Weight loss can also make your medication effective and improve the problem of menstrual regularity.

Remember losing weight can aid you in decreasing the levels of androgens and insulin. This further lead to restoration in ovulation. Consuming a carbohydrate-rich diet and low in fat can increase the levels of your insulin. There are some precise diets recommended by the doctor for women with PCOS.

It is always better to consult a doctor or nutritionist and know which diet is best for you. 


To control the menstrual cycle, your doctor can prescribe some medicines that are stated below:

  • Birth control pills containing progestin and estrogen can aid in reducing the production of androgen and regulate estrogen. Normalizing the hormones might decrease the risk of developing endometrial cancer and treat acne & abnormal bleeding.
  • To regulate your menses and provide protection from endometrial cancer, consumption of progestin can be prescribed for 10 to 14 days.

Therefore, Metformin can help you to get relief from PCOS symptoms. To manage your PCOS condition, it is vital to consult the doctor once and then accordingly start the treatment.

Related Article - 10 Ways to Control Diabetes