Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrinological disorder in women. It is one of the leading causes of infertility worldwide. It can affect 1 in 10 women of reproductive age.
How Does Metformin Help PCOS? Above all, it is used to treat the symptoms of PCOS. But many wonder if it is really the best treatment path to take.
But first, what is PCOS?
PCOS is a metabolic disorder caused by hormonal imbalances. This can include too much male hormone (hyperandrogenemia), too much insulin (hyperinsulinemia), and hypersecretion of luteinizing hormone (LH).
Medical scientists have done extensive research on PCOS. Their focus has been on malfunctioning ovaries. Ovaries have three different types of cells: oocytes, granulosa cells, and theca cells. Oocytes split within follicles to become an ovum or potentially fertilizable egg. Granulosa cells provide the physical support and microenvironment required for the developing oocyte. Theca cells make up the connective tissue that surrounds the follicle. They also help to create ovarian follicles in a process called folliculogenesis.
Theca cells play an important role in fertility. They help follicles mature enough to become fertilized. The last of the follicles to die are Theca cells are the last of the follicle to die. For example, once ovulation occurs, theca cells change and form the corpus luteum. The corpus luteum is the little cave left by an oocyte that ovulates. The corpus luteum can produce progesterone to keep a pregnancy.
Theca cells are the root for follicular growth. They provide all the androgens required by the developing follicles for conversion into estrogens. This is by the granulosa cells. The creation of a vascular system is how Theca cell function starts. It provides communication with the hypothalamus throughout the reproductive cycle.
The main focus of most research on PCOS is the role theca cells play. When theca cells become insulin resistant, they produce too much testosterone. Too much testosterone can lead to hyperandrogenism in polycystic ovary syndrome. Hyperandrogenism can cause hirsutism, or male-like body and facial hair. It can also cause loss of scalp hair, acne, and midline weight gain. As well as cholesterol and blood pressure elevation.
Now, what role does metformin play in all of this?
Metformin was originally used to find out how much insulin resistance affects women with polycystic ovarian syndrome.
In women with PCOS, insulin resistance is caused by hyperinsulinemia, or too much insulin production by your pancreas. As a result, too much insulin may increase testosterone production. It interferes with communication between your hypothalamus, your pituitary, and ovaries. Too much insulin also decreases circulating levels of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG). SHBG can help bind testosterone to prevent hirsutism.
How Does Metformin Help PCOS?
Women with PCOS are often infertile. Metformin can induce ovulation in non-obese women with PCOS. Metformin offers some advantages over other first-line treatments for anovulatory infertility such as clomiphene. It can have serious side effects. I discuss this at length in the video.
What many don’t realize is that metformin is a downstream medical treatment. Downstream medicine focuses on the treatment of symptoms, instead of the root cause. Downstream medicine is problematic because it ignores the root cause. Therefore, you never really heal the issue.
Your hypothalamus controls the hormonal irregularities of PCOS. You can help reverse insulin resistance when you support your hypothalamus. You can also improve fertility in a woman with PCOS.
In our Hormone Support Group, we discuss the problems women face with PCOS. You can access it through our free Hormone Reboot Training. I hope you join us if you want to learn more about PCOS, metformin, and how you can balance your hormones naturally.