A new review finds that combining lifestyle changes and the type 2 diabetes drug metformin could help women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS causes an imbalance in women’s hormones, which can lead to difficulties getting pregnant. It is also associated with diabetes and depression.
Researchers at Monash University, Australia conducted a systematic review over six months exploring how metformin combined with lifestyle changes affected PCOS, in comparison to lifestyle changes and placebo.
608 participants aged 12-39 were assessed across nine studies and given either placebo and a mixture of lifestyle changes such as dietary advice and behaviour education, or metformin and changes in lifestyle.
Metformin and lifestyle changes were found to improve menstruation in women and reduce BMI, with senior author Professor Helena Teede highlighting that a healthy weight is crucial in managing PCOS.
People with PCOS are at higher risk of weight gain and obesity, which can lead to insulin resistance and impaired glucose tolerance. Dr Soulmaz Shorakae, Monash University, told Medscape Medical News that metformin could improve insulin resistance in PCOS and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The researchers acknowledged that only using small subject groups was a limitation of their study, and that greater numbers of participants across a longer time frame are required to clarify how metformin affects PCOS management.
This study was published online in Human Reproduction Update.

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