Does Metformin Help with PCOS?

Does Metformin Help with PCOS

Does Metformin Help with PCOS? Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder that can cause a variety of health issues. Among the many treatments for PCOS, metformin, a medication traditionally used to treat type 2 diabetes, often comes up. ‘Does metformin help with PCOS?’ is a question frequently asked among those affected by this condition. This comprehensive guide aims to answer this question, exploring the role of metformin in managing PCOS, its benefits, potential side effects, and more. Whether you’re personally dealing with PCOS or supporting a loved one, we hope this guide provides clarity and understanding.

Understanding PCOS and Metformin

PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age and is often characterized by infrequent or prolonged menstrual periods and excess male hormone levels1. Metformin, on the other hand, is a medication that helps control high blood sugar and is commonly used in the management of type 2 diabetes2.One of the treatments often used for PCOS is Metformin, a medication primarily prescribed for managing type 2 diabetes. Here’s an overview of the role of Metformin in PCOS based on the provided references:

  1. Metformin as an Insulin Sensitizer: Metformin is the oldest insulin sensitizer used in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. It helps improve insulin sensitivity, which is often a concern in women with PCOS. This improvement in insulin sensitivity can help regulate hormonal imbalances associated with PCOS, such as excess androgens and irregular menstrual cycles [1].
  2. Investigating Insulin Resistance in PCOS: Metformin was the first insulin-sensitizing drug used to investigate the role of insulin resistance in the pathogenesis of PCOS. Insulin resistance plays a significant role in the development of PCOS, and Metformin can help address this issue [2].
  3. Reducing Androgen Levels: Many studies have shown that Metformin, when used to treat PCOS, significantly reduces serum androgen levels. This is important for alleviating the symptoms associated with excess androgens, such as hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and acne [3].
  4. Alternative to Oral Contraceptives: Limited evidence suggests that Metformin may be a suitable alternative to oral contraceptives for treating hyperandrogenic symptoms of PCOS, making it a valuable option for managing PCOS-related symptoms [4].
  5. Managing Insulin Resistance: Metformin is suggested for hyperinsulinemic PCOS patients and helps reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, especially in overweight or obese individuals with PCOS [5].

Role of Metformin in PCOS Management

Metformin works by decreasing the amount of glucose your liver releases into the bloodstream and increasing your body’s response to insulin3. By doing so, it can help regulate menstrual cycles, improve fertility, and manage weight and metabolic syndrome in women with PCOS4 5. Metformin plays a significant role in the management of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). It is the first-line treatment for many aspects of PCOS due to its insulin-sensitizing properties. Metformin helps address insulin resistance, a common feature in PCOS, by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing serum insulin levels [2][5]. This, in turn, aids in regulating hormonal imbalances, leading to a reduction in androgen levels and the alleviation of PCOS-related symptoms like hirsutism and acne [3][7]. Additionally, Metformin is effective in promoting ovulation in non-obese women with PCOS, making it a valuable option for fertility management [5]. Overall, Metformin’s role in PCOS management extends to improving insulin resistance, regulating hormone levels, and supporting fertility, making it a crucial component of treatment for many individuals with PCOS.

Benefits and Side Effects of Metformin for PCOS

While metformin can be beneficial for many women with PCOS, it’s not without potential side effects. These may include gastrointestinal upset, such as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal discomfort6. Metformin, a medication commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, offers several benefits and potential side effects when used to manage Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).


  1. Improves Insulin Sensitivity: Metformin helps enhance insulin sensitivity in individuals with PCOS, reducing insulin resistance, a common issue associated with the condition. This improvement can lead to better blood sugar control and hormone regulation [2].
  2. Restores Ovulation: Metformin has been reported to restore ovulation in women with PCOS, improving fertility. It is often used as an ovulation induction agent, especially in non-obese PCOS patients [4].
  3. Weight Management: Metformin may contribute to weight loss, making it beneficial for overweight or obese individuals with PCOS. It aids in reducing circulating androgen levels, addressing symptoms such as hirsutism and acne [2][3].
  4. Metabolic Health: By lowering blood glucose levels and improving insulin response, Metformin promotes metabolic health in PCOS patients. This can reduce the risk of developing conditions like gestational diabetes mellitus [3][8].

Side Effects:

  1. Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Common side effects of Metformin include gastrointestinal discomfort such as nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These symptoms can be mitigated by starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it [7].
  2. Vitamin B12 Deficiency: Prolonged use of Metformin may lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which can have various health implications. Regular monitoring of vitamin B12 levels is advised for individuals on long-term Metformin therapy [5].
  3. Lactic Acidosis: While rare, lactic acidosis is a severe side effect associated with Metformin. It can be life-threatening and typically occurs in individuals with kidney or liver issues. Regular medical supervision is essential to monitor for this risk [5].


Metformin has shown promise in managing various symptoms of PCOS, including irregular menstrual cycles, fertility issues, and weight management. However, like any medication, it may have side effects and may not be suitable for everyone. Always consult with a healthcare provider to understand the best treatment options for your unique circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does metformin help with PCOS?

Metformin works by decreasing the amount of glucose your liver releases into the bloodstream and increasing your body’s response to insulin. By doing so, it can help regulate menstrual cycles, improve fertility, and manage weight and metabolic syndrome in women with PCOS.

What are the benefits of metformin for PCOS?

Benefits of metformin for PCOS include regulation of menstrual cycles, improved fertility, and weight and metabolic syndrome management.

Should I take metformin for my PCOS?

The decision to take metformin or any other medication should always be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, who can consider your individual circumstances and health needs

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