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PCOS, weight gain and Metformin

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  • PCOS, weight gain and Metformin

    I have just been diagnosed with PCOS which really sucks, but at least it explains all the weight I've been gaining. I have eaten primal/low carb for about two years and I am incredibly active, but I just keep putting on more pounds. I can't live like this! I don't know what to do. My doctor wants to put me on Metformin and claims I probably have insulin resistence... which doesn't make sense to me especially because of my diet. My carbs stay so low every day! Anyone have experience with PCOS? Anyone know anything about Metformin?

  • #2
    I have no personal experience, but the lady who runs has mentioned in some of her posts about dealing with PCOS. I think her name is Jezwyn. I can't access her blog at the moment or I'd pull the posts where she talks about it for you. I'm sure she's be happy to converse with you via email.


    • #3
      I have pcos; have been primal-with-regular-catastrophes for about a year now. PB has gotten me a lot healthier, although I haven't lost weight (yet??).
      Pre-PB, I tried all sorts. Nagged Dr for aaaaaages to try metformin. It did sod all for me! Went up to 500mg 3 times a day (i.e. with each meal). Inthe beginning the notorious "met belly" made a small appearance, so I ate a bit less crap. Meh. I would think that a low carb diet would mean you'd get little benefit from emtformin?

      Do you mind me asking what your main symptoms are? That can point the way for various supplements and things to try.
      As a quick outline / comparison, the following things I have found useless or negative: Dianette, metformin, vaniqua, agnus castus, reductil, veganism, vegetarianism, topical skin treatments, topical antibiotics, antibiotic pills.... I kept gaining weight and had no menstrual cycle.
      My current "regime" - vitamin D, a multivitamin supplement, saw palmetto, and of course PB. I had one period shortly after starting, one at Xmas, one last month, and one exactly a month later (that's the first monthly cycle in my life EVER). Weight is stable. Not sure if weight loss will happen, am trying to hold onto hope that once I've "healed" it will start.

      Anyway, if you're interested in supplements find Cillakat on these boards, she is Queen of Vitamins or if you want to chat more drop us a ine


      • #4
        Hey... I'm PCOSer too! I really think my body started going this way in my late teens, I started gaining weight (when I was so thin people would REGULARLY accuse me of anorexia), and I started using CW weight loss tactics that I think REALLY F'd me up. High carbs and soy... OMG... the SOY! RUN...RUN FOR YOUR LIFE from that crap!

        I find that I HAVE to be a low carber, with LOTS of veggies and salads. The meat and fat are fine with me, as is some fruits and dairy. I have to keep moving to lose anything. The best I've looked in the last few years was when I was moving houses and would spend days packing and unpacking. Weight just melted off. But I was MOVING ALL DAY (sound primal???? YEP!). In fact when I was a teen and my diet was pretty close to primal as was my sleep, my workouts etc... I looked and felt pretty good...

        I know that Met works for some people... but also has some crap side effects. Personally, and this is just me, I would try everything NATURAL possible before I'd invite that into my life. Just based on what I've seen. There are those that it has worked for well... so not to totally rule it out.

        My main issues are weight, excessive hair, weight, monthly crime scenes, weight, ovaries that feel like they might rupture at any moment, and oh... did I mention weight?

        I'm still working up my magic supplement mix. (I've been reading a TON and Cillakat has some major awesome info, especially regarding D),
        My workouts are finally starting to approach consistent
        And SLEEP, which for me has been a shattered dream is FINALLY something in my life!!!!

        I"m with NorthernMG... I think our bodies have a lot of "healing" from CW before the most desirable weight loss can happen.

        There is a GREAT website for PCOS... The ladies there have been through it ALL! Very supportive, and full of ideas. It can also be a place where although you finally don't feel so alone, you feel that you might never get away from this, as most of us tend to manage individual symptoms...


        • #5
          I don't think this will help much but I was diagnosed with PCOS during my pregnancy. When they told me what it was, and what the symptoms were I realized that I probably was dealingwith it for about 7 years. After my pregnancy the symptoms were getting worse and worse, the year before primal I think I only had three periods and they were getting so heavy when I did have them it was out of control. I also was getting more pain inbetween periods and I noticed more hair growth. Anyway, it only took one month for me (back in feb this year) of messing around with low carb to get my period and they have been on time (not perfect, about 30-40 days apart) every month since and they are normal! I'm not getting any pain inbetween periods and the extra hair growth is slowly going away. But, maybe the big difference for me is I do have insulin resistance (or I did) and I had signs of pre-diabetes (still do but less), classic metabolic syndrome, I was eating tons of carbs that obviously was the cause of these problems so once I took that out everything started to correct itself.

          Do you test your blood sugar ever? Why does your doc say your insulin resistant, just because of the PCOS or did he do some tests?


          • #6
            I had PCOS for most of my adult life --- it got better after menopause, of course. I hadn't a clue what caused it or why I had it till I read it's just one more part of Metabolic Syndrome.

            If you want a good book to read about what happens to all those hormones and pathways and why they go wrong, with some good suggestions for how to get them right again, read a recent book called "Mastering Leptin" by Bryon Richards. It has been a real eye-opener, and some of the suggested supplements are already getting me feeling better.


            • #7
              Originally posted by kequaid View Post
              I have just been diagnosed with PCOS which really sucks, but at least it explains all the weight I've been gaining. I have eaten primal/low carb for about two years and I am incredibly active, but I just keep putting on more pounds. I can't live like this! I don't know what to do. My doctor wants to put me on Metformin and claims I probably have insulin resistence... which doesn't make sense to me especially because of my diet. My carbs stay so low every day! Anyone have experience with PCOS? Anyone know anything about Metformin?
              Hey im a fellow PCOSer!!! heyyy dont know much about metformin but I have been seeing a nutritional therpist and would recommend the following;

              Can i ask you if you are quite a stressed charcter or under stress fromm work?

              1st--- dont be surprised if you have been wrongly diagnosed, as close friend had PCOS for 10 years and know all of a sudden its gone!! lets not forget that doctors diagnostic tests are often innaccurate!!!!

              2nd- do not stress seriusly....because thats often what will worsen the hormone imbalance

              3rd- GET OFF METFORMIN- buy yourself some Agnus Castus- herb/plant based solution very effective with a lot of people.

              4- LOTS OF FISH and omegas- may be neccessary to buy a potent omega supplement or krill oil (less omeg3 but more bioavailable)

              5- Make sure you are avoiding anything with soya (unless fermented) as this will mess around with your hormone levels. So avoid the soya and tofu products.

              6- Dont go crazy on low carbs, just because you are 'insulin resistant' (as im sure they have just assumed) doesnt mean you cannot have some in moderation. GL is very important, more so than GI so dont get bogged down with it.

              7- find time for yourself to de-stress...ive just started yoga (would definately recommend if you are not doing it already)

              8- SlLEEP BY 10PM!!!!!!!!!!!!! no excuses, adequate sleep plays huge role with hormone release.

              9- Dont be scared of PCOS...i was diagnosed in Feb and I'm getting the better of it as most people with PCOS live like everyone else and make babies like the rest of the world.

              I know what you mean with the difficulties of weightloss etc. I am a trainer and recently struggled getting last bits of stubborn fat off, despite weight training, doing muay thai and eating like a saint (PB style), however I had to come to terms with the fact that untill you regulate hormones, the high cortisol (from stress) or slightl off oestrog ratio with hold those lasts bits of fat!!

              If you want to know about recommened supplements to help with hormonal regulation im happy to post them on here for you!
              LIke northenmonkeygirl mentioned VIT D is a great supplement to have regularly and i would recommend that too.

              Nice to hear from felllow PCOS'ers


              • #8
                I have been diagnosed with PCOS at the age of 19, which is now 20 years ago. At the time, my periods stopped for no reason (not pregnant nor anorexic), I started getting facial hair and putting on weight. Oh, and acne. The first 10 years I was taking Dianette, and although it helped my skin and hirsutism, I believe it helped me gain a lot of weight. About 10 years ago I found out about Metformin and the Atkins diet, which (combined) allowed me to lose about 60 lbs and get to normal BMI. Unfortunately, I fell off the low carb wagon and regained all the weight back, with occasional yo-yoing between high and low carb (and weight).

                I have been Primal since January, and have lost about half the weight I need to. I'm down to overweight BMI (from obese). Oh, I'm still on Metformin and currently ovulating (I'm charting my cycles), looking forward to a cycle of IVF.

                Supplements - I take Vit D, multivit and fish oil (Omega 3). I would appreciate others on this thread listing the supplements that have helped them...

                BTW, in the past I have tried agnus castus and saw palmetto without much effect. Metformin does give me IBS symptoms if I drink milk or otherwise eat a lot of dairy products, so it forces me to be more Primal in a way!


                • #9
                  You guys are awesome! Thank you everyone for the replies!

                  NorthernMonkeyGirl, My main symptoms are weight gain, no periods and cysts. I have noticed that I am breaking out more, which has never happened to me, even as a teenager! I started taking Omega 3s and I take about 2,000IU of VitD a day. (In the winter I take more.) I would love to know which multivitamins everyone is taking or any other supplements you would recommend. What does saw palmetto do?

                  Good to hear everyone's experience/opinion about Metformin. I never started taking it because I didn't think it would help me given my current diet. I tried to explain that I eat no sugar or refined carbs, and haven't for years. I just eat non starchy veggies and sometimes fruit. They just keep saying that even veggies have carbs. I know they do, but I don't think I could even eat enough broccoli to make me put on pounds like this! Maybe I'm wrong, but I think they just don't get it.

                  I think we have very similar experiences twinmama. I used to be super thin too and was following a perfect diet according to CW... I was a vegetarian for years and I'm sure all that soy has had lingering effects! I am glad you are finally getting some sleep.

                  I wanted to try a natural remedy before a bunch of drugs so I recently started seeing an acupuncturist referred to me by a friend who saw her for infertility. She is desperately trying to get me to stop stressing out. She insists that if I get my stress levels down that I will get better. Yes MuaythaiNez, I am a STRESSED OUT person! I have made it a point to get more sleep in the past month which I think is already helping. I actually am a yoga teacher! Funny enough, it is often a stressful job. I teach about 10 classes a week and they are all in a heated room. I am constantly getting calls to pick up other teacher's classes for various reasons. Often I don't get to practice myself because I am too busy, but I will make it a point to get in there and take some classes for myself, because it really does make a huge difference and it makes me feel so much better. I am also changing my availability and taking an extra day off each week starting next month, so hopefully that will help too.

                  Anyway, the acupuncturist is giving me some herbal concoction and weekly treatments. She is also having me eat a more alkaline diet, which basically means WAY more veggies and smaller portions of meat. I started this last week, and I have been feeling great. I was getting very low carb for a while because I kept trying to lose weight, and it kept never working. Because of changing up my diet I think have been eating a few hundred calories less most days. Maybe once my hormones are straightened out it will actually help me lose weight...

                  Sorry I practically wrote a book here. Thank you all again! I am so glad I posted this. And again, any suggestions for supplements would be greatly appreciated!!!


                  • #10
                    Well, I wouldn't add too much to the mix until you know what your acupuncturist is putting you on

                    I've just re-jigged my supplements.
                    The saw palmetto is (apparently) an anti-androgen http://www.nutritional-supplements-h...for-women.html as in it hopefully helps mop up my excess free testosterone. In my case, my overall testosterone levels are normal, but a greater proportion is floating around unaccompanied, normally it is bound to SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin). So blocking the free testosterone should act against acne and hair at least. I take a 320mg standardised extract a day, found in the men's health section as it's primary use is for prostate health! It is since starting this that I've had the two periods, one month apart.
                    The agnus castus is an adaptogen; it acts more on the pituitary, which is the main point of control for lots of other systems. I've heard a lot of success stories with it; maybe for me it was too "vague"/general - most of my blood tests are normal.

                    My vitamin D is a 5000IU softgel (I'm pale and English - not much sun up here!).

                    I've just swapped my multivitamin to this:
                    It's got high levels of the B vitamins (in cillakat's info, she says that PCOS tends to use up the B vitamins quickly), everything else you could think of, probiotics, herbal stuff..... I figured it would cover all the rest, especially as I tend towards a more carnivorous diet.
                    Just run out of omega 3 and trying to work out if I can get away without downing another pill in the morning!

                    Good luck with the natural stuff - remember we all get a slightly different "pick n mix" so it will be trial and error. FWIW, I found "conventional" medicine to be like papering over the the house continued subsiding!


                    • #11
                      There is a big connection between thyroid issues, estrogen dominance and PCOS. I am thinking this might be the underlying issue for so many of the women here.
                      Before you go "oh, I've had my thyroid checked and it's ok" I want to say that most docs don't know how to interpret blood tests according to functional endocrinology ranges (they use old, outdated ranges) let alone even know all the right tests to do, so there's a good chance that you cold have undiagnosed thyroid problems, making weigh loss really hard.

                      The PCOS thyroid pattern is thyroid over-conversion (causing cellular resistance) along with decreased Thyroid Binding Globulin (TBG). Hasimoto's can also trigger PCOS.

                      I highly recommend Dr. Kharrazian's book about thyroid patterns, as he outlines all of this info and tells which thyroid/hormone tests to get. You can email the website for a list of practitioners who are trained in functional endocrinology- many will work distance with you:


                      • #12
                        Since you say you're really stressed, what's your situation with magnesium status? Almost everyone is low (unless they live by a warm ocean and bathe in it, or unless they supplement.)

                        I was stuck -- taking any form of magnesium by mouth loosens my bowels too much. Now I use transdermal magnesium (magnesium "oil", though it's really a brine of magnesium chloride) and it has helped a lot. I sleep beautifully again, thank heavens.


                        • #13
                          Did NOT know that Hashi's could trigger PCOS... VERY INTERESTING!

                          Piano DR. Lady... Are you making your mag. oil?
                          Last edited by twinmama; 07-31-2010, 09:22 PM. Reason: extra questions


                          • #14
                            Thank you for the thyroid info and link. I thought I had read about the connection before but was hoping that there wasn't much to it... Just one more issue to deal with. My mom and my cousin both have thyroid issues. I have always suspected it but just like you said, every time I get it checked out they say I am "normal" and that there's nothing wrong with me. I will look into the book and see if I can find a doc in the area.

                            I am supplementing with mag citrate, sort of. I have the same problem with taking it so I can only take half of a dose. I will have to look for transdermal magnesium. I also found a thread here about magnesium yesterday and there was some other kind that was recommended, but she said it was expensive. I'll have to look into it.


                            • #15
                              Well... you're doc. could do a COMPLETE thyroid panel. Inclusive of antibodies and such. My thyroid level is "normal"... but my antibodies are through the roof!!!! I attack my thyroid so that it has to work so hard I "feel" and act "hypothyroid". I've taken thyroid meds, and it helps. But not a lot really. And the sucky part is now medical insurance companies can deny me insurance for having said info... total PITA!