Q:

Why might metformin treatment for PCOS cause weight fluctuations?

A:

Quick Answer

Using metformin to treat polycystic ovary syndrome may cause weight fluctuations because metformin helps the body to use insulin more efficiently. It also decreases the amount of sugar manufactured by the liver and decreases the amount absorbed by the stomach and intestines, according to WebMD. All of those effects contribute to weight loss in the patient.

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Full Answer

PCOS is a disorder of the endocrine system that causes growth of numerous small cysts on the ovaries of women of reproductive age. These cysts are harmless, but cause hormonal imbalances characterized by acne, prolonged or infrequent menstrual periods, excess hair growth, depression or mood swings, and obesity, says Mayo Clinic.

PCOS is often linked with insulin resistance and other anomalies in insulin secretion, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It is also thought to be caused by factors such as low-grade inflammation and heredity, notes Mayo Clinic. When the body has problems regulating blood sugar, the high insulin levels impede hormone production in the pituitary gland, triggering the release of higher amounts of testosterone by the ovaries, notes Healthline. The excess testosterone makes developing follicles in the ovaries to become sticky and lump together, causing a cystic appearance. This can hinder ovulation and also cause menstrual and fertility problems.

Metformin is a drug administered to Type 2 diabetes patients to control blood sugar. Doctors administer metformin to PCOS patients because, in addition to regulating high blood sugar, it also reduces testosterone production, as explained by WebMD. It also helps regulate menstrual cycles and increase the patient’s fertility, thus helping to control the PCOS symptoms.

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