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Managing PCOS with Metformin: Unveiling the Benefits and Considerations


Metformin is a medication commonly used to treat type 2 diabetes, but it has also been shown to be effective in managing PCOS symptoms. Metformin can help regulate menstrual cycles, decrease insulin resistance, and reduce androgen levels in the body, which can improve symptoms of PCOS.


GPs tend to prescribe metformin to those with PCOS when they have difficulty losing weight. It is prescribed off label – this means that it is prescribed to treat PCOS even though that is not what the medication was intended for


Woman taking metformin



Be aware of the side-effects, metformin is well documented to have gastro-intestinal side effects (think, nausea, diarrhoea, and stomach cramps). It is advised that you start on a low dose to allow your body to adapt and minimise the side-effects by increasing the dose slowly – your GP should advise how to go about doing this.


The dose of metformin for PCOS can vary depending on the individual's medical history, age, weight, and other factors. Typically, the starting dose of metformin is 500 mg once or twice a day, taken with meals. This dose may be gradually increased every 1-2 weeks until the maximum dose is reached, which is usually 2,000 mg per day, taken in smaller doses across the day.


Both inositol and metformin have been shown to be effective treatments for PCOS, but they work in different ways and have different benefits and potential side effects.


Inositol is a naturally occurring substance that is similar in structure to glucose and is involved in insulin signalling. Inositol supplementation has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce androgen levels, and improve ovulation and menstrual regularity in women with PCOS. Additionally, inositol has been shown to have fewer side effects than metformin. Most individuals experience no side-effects.


Metformin, on the other hand, is a medication that works by reducing insulin resistance and improving glucose uptake in the body. It has been shown to improve menstrual regularity, reduce androgen levels, and improve fertility in women with PCOS. However, metformin can cause gastrointestinal side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, and abdominal discomfort.


Both inositol and metformin can be effective treatments for PCOS. Most individuals prefer to opt for the more natural route (inositol), especially because it has little or no side-effects.

If your GP has advised that you start using metformin to manage your PCOS, please know that you do not have to go with their recommendation. You are within your rights to try an alternative, such as inositol and other lifestyle changes before starting metformin.

Equally if you feel that metformin is the right option for you, then this is also absolutely fine.


Whether you decide to go with inositol or metformin, remember that this alone will not be effective in managing your PCOS symptoms. They work best, along with other lifestyle changes.

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