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Womens Health (Lond). 2010 Jul;6(4):577-93. doi: 10.2217/whe.10.43.

Use of metformin in the treatment of polycystic ovary syndrome.

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Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Gynecological Endocrinology Center, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, 41100 Modena, Italy.


Metformin is quite an old drug, but it is optimal for the control of glycemia in Type 2 diabetes. It was reported, 15 years ago, that insulin resistance was abnormally high in most polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) patients. Starting from that moment, increasing numbers of studies were performed to demonstrate the efficacy of metformin in controlling and/or modulating several aspects of PCOS, which is the most common cause of menstrual irregularity, inesthetisms and infertility. Metformin induces higher glucose uptake, thus inducing a lower synthesis/secretion of insulin. Such an effect permits the possible restoration of the normal biological functions that are severely affected by the compensatory hyperinsulinemia reactive to the increased peripheral insulin resistance. These are the basis of the many positive effects of this drug, such as the restoration of menstrual cyclicity, ovulatory cycles and fertility, because abnormal insulin levels affect the hypothalamus-pituitary-ovarian function, as well as the use of glucose in peripheral tissues. Metformin improves the impairments typically observed in hyperinsulinemic PCOS patients, reducing the possible evolution towards metabolic syndrome and Type 2 diabetes; and when pregnancy occurs, it consistently reduces the risk of gestational diabetes, eclampsia and hypertension. PCOS seems to be the perfect physiopathological condition that might have higher benefits from metformin administration, obviously after Type 2 diabetes. This review focuses on the many aspects of PCOS and on the possible issues of this disease for which metformin might be a putative optimal treatment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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