It’s a common phenomenon for a medication which was originally meant to treat a specific condition become effective in dealing with another problem. An example of such kind of drug is Metformin. It’s efficient in secondary roles, although it’s popular in managing the medical condition it was intended for. Metformin is the first line of medicine in treating type II diabetes. The drug has received international acknowledgment for dealing with infertility. You may be asking yourself, can this medicine be used as a fertility drug? Yes, Metformin has helped men and women bring back their fertility.
Metformin and Infertility
If you have been dealing with infertility, and have been curious of have knowledge on the drugs to treat infertility, most probably you might have come across Metformin for fertility treatment. Hyperinsulinemia or high insulin levels is a condition whereby there is too much insulin circulating in the blood in comparison with blood sugar levels. The condition is a result of insulin resistance; this means the body is resistant to insulin hormone. The pancreas responds by producing more insulin. Eventually, if medical treatment isn’t sought, insulin resistance can lead to type II diabetes. Hyperinsulinemia is often found in women with PCOS. The disorder is characterized by:
- Irregular periods
- Absent periods
- Hormonal imbalance
PCOS manifests differently in a woman to woman. Consult the doctor for additional symptoms of the condition. Medics prescribe Metformin to patients with PCOS. If one has hormonal imbalance, irregular or absent period, greater chances of attaining a pregnancy can be almost impossible; how is this case? Hyperinsulinemia is linked to prompt hormonal imbalance in your ovary and pituitary gland, eventually leading to elevated levels of luteinizing hormone (LH). Rising levels of LH results in:
- Ovulation disorder
- Menstrual irregularities
This is where Metformin comes in handy.
What is Metformin?
It is an oral medication which belongs to a class of medication termed as biguanides. It lowers insulin levels and regulates a woman’s monthly period and finally, ovulation is restored or normalized. Bear in mind without regular ovulation, conception is difficult. Even a woman who is not diabetic, she can benefit from this drug for infertility. Patients with polycystic ovarian syndrome may have excess amounts of androgen hormone. Androgen hormones are male hormones for example testosterone. The elevated male hormones are associated with:
- Excessive facial hair growth
- Hair loss and thinning
The medication lowers androgen levels and puts a woman’s body back to normal functioning. Most of the times, fertility expert puts you on Metformin therapy as a second option or as an alternative treatment after Clomid turns out to be unsuccessful during the first round of the treatment. If necessary, the doctor may use this drug together with Clomid. The starting dosage of Metformin is 500 mg thrice or twice per day or as directed by the physician. The dosage may be increased if the initial dose turns out to be ineffective, the increment is done gradually.
Why Do Doctors Prescribe This Medication?
Most fertility specialists prefer to use Metformin in assisted reproductive technology such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). In IVF, fertilization takes place outside the body of a woman. The success of IVF is determined by harvesting a handful number of eggs, at least 15 eggs to be precise. Although a woman with PCOS going through IVF may prefer to use donated eggs. Why is this so? Eggs collected after ovarian stimulation tends to have chromosomal abnormalities or are of poor quality; this may be due to overexposure of androgens, particularly, testosterone hormone. Eggs with chromosomes abnormalities eventually may lead to a miscarriage, that’s why it is advisable to opt for egg donation, the fertility expert will assist in choosing the best viable donated eggs. This medication increases fertility in women after taking the medicine for at least two weeks. Of course, each woman is different and this medication may or may not work for you. If it leads to conception, congratulations, if it doesn’t, all is not lost, the doctor will advise on other fertility medications which may be of help.
Other Effects of the Drug
Metformin not only lowers insulin and male hormones but also triggers weight loss. Many women living with PCOS (though not all) are overweight or obese. Obesity or being overweight puts you at risk of the following, some of the conditions are life threatening:
- Type II diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
- Fatty liver disease
- High cholesterol
- Sleep apnea
For this article, let’s focus on the relationship between infertility and overweight? Being overweight lowers the chances of conception. If the gym instructor has informed you countless times you are overweight, it’s advisable to take heed and consider taking Metformin to aid in weight loss. Obesity may trigger hormonal imbalances and may interfere with ovulation. If a woman is obese and she becomes pregnant, her life and that of the baby growing in the womb are at risk because of complications of pregnancy such as:
- Gestational diabetes
- Blood clotting
- Need for labor induction
- C-section birth
It’s crucial to plan and prepare for a pregnancy at least three to six months prior trying to conceive, more so, women with diabetes, obesity, and PCOS. Review your medical conditions, the overall health with the medical care provider and inform him or her of your intentions of trying to become pregnant. The doctor may prescribe Metformin as a preparation strategy to either control your type II diabetes, manage PCOS or aid in weight loss; or benefit from the three Metformin uses fertility remedies. Imagine losing a pregnancy just because you are overweight or the baby being obese or diabetic for his entire life.
The medication is used in combination with diet and exercise. Plan healthy meals and exercise regularly to shed the excess weight which may be the cause of infertility and other fatal conditions outlined previously. In case you require assistance, the medical practitioner can refer you to a physical fitness instructor and a nutritionist. However, exercise in moderation and don’t go below your BMI, being underweight can also trigger infertility; that’s why you need professionals to guide you through.
While on Metformin for weight loss, fertility will be restored, it’s believed the medication works by suppressing appetite, prompting you to eat less. Unfortunately, the medication has unpleasant side effects, for example, lactic acidosis which is a serious effect. The good thing is that the doctor will monitor you closely to ensure the drug is working as expected and look for the undesired effects. In your diet, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and do away with processed foods; strive to eat foods in their natural form.
What Does the Drug Do in Men?
Type II diabetes affects both men and women. If a man has type II diabetes and has not received medical treatment, he may experience erectile dysfunction. The following may increase the risk of erectile challenges:
- High levels of blood sugar
- Blood pressure
What is erectile dysfunction? It is the inability for a man to maintain or get an erection firm for sexual intercourse. Uncontrolled high blood sugar can damage your nerves and blood cells. Additionally, reduced blood circulation is linked to erectile dysfunction due to elevated blood sugar levels. Bear in mind type II diabetes is characterized by excessive weight gain which can lead to obesity and infertility.
Therefore, taking this drug regulates type II diabetes and leads to weight loss. Obesity is associated with a reduction of testosterone levels. As you gain weight, fat is accumulated and converted to estrogen hormone. In the long run, a huge reduction of testosterone can lead to hypogonadal. Taking the medication reverses the situation in obese men; testosterone levels rise, weight gained is lost and finally, a man can cause a pregnancy. Diet and exercising is a must. There are foods you can include in your diet and boost male fertility like eggs, dark chocolate, oysters just to mention but a few. As earlier explained, obesity alone can be a cause of infertility; as a man, you reduce the chances of your wife conceiving by being obese.
For men and women struggling with infertility, a healthy lifestyle is paramount. It’s true Metformin used for infertility has kept a good record. Nonetheless, quit smoking and alcohol intake; a bad lifestyle takes a fair share of infertility. Kick out the bad habits and restore your fertility; the doctor may recommend using Metformin in infertility treatments, though you have to be prepared to face negative effects such as nausea and it’s good to be vigilant and consult the doctor if you detect them. Most patients who have been on this medication for whichever reason agrees that the negative effects are tolerable and the positive results are worth it. Thus, consider giving the drug a trial as advised by the doctor, you will never regret.