What Are the Side Effects of Glucophage in People with PCOS?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

What kind of information are you finding about using Glucophage in insulin-resistant patients who also have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?

Doctor's response

Glucophage is currently being tested in patients with PCO, but research is preliminary. It is a medication that is only approved for treatment of diabetes. It is not approved for treatment of PCO. There are many issues that need to be clarified before it becomes common treatment for PCO. 

First, we need to know how to select PCO patients that will benefit most from taking the medication. We know women with PCO are a higher risk of also having diabetes. Does this mean we would only give glucophage to women with PCO who are also diabetic?  Is there some sort of other test of insulin resistance, that occurs before actual diabetes, that we could use in the future to decide which women with PCO would benefit from glucophage? We also lack safety data in women who become pregnant while taking glucophage.

Although there is high risk of infertility in PCO patients, many patients with PCO can get pregnant, either intentionally or unintentionally. As a matter of fact, some preliminary work shows that women with PCO-associated infertility may actually get pregnant more easily using "insulin sensitizing" therapy. These and many other issues of safety need tot be worked out before glucophage becomes standard therapy for PCO. The good news is that this research is progressing very quickly.

Medical Author: Carolyn Janet Crandall, M.D.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018
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