3

votes

if i go on the pill but stay on paleo, will i gain weight? PCOSer thinking of getting off metformin

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created August 16, 2011 at 3:15 PM

hi all - i have pcos and have been on 1500 mg metformin daily since may 2011, when i was diagnosed (well i started at 1000, but wasnt getting period/cycling normally still, so we upped it to 1500).

i was getting depressed, always felt mentally foggy, and am experiencing neuropathy, i think all from metformin but am not sure (neuropathy, definitely from metformin!). doc just tested b12 so we'll see. i am taking supplements and they are not helping.

i have been eating paleo since aug 7 and have already lost 15 pounds - it is august 16 today! and feel a little more alert, but wonder if i would feel even better and brighter without the metformin.

i'm not sure if lethargy or depression will come back, am considering getting off metformin to see how i'd feel. metformin didnt help me lose a single pound. but that still may leave the problem of not getting my period.

so 3 questions: if i get off metformin, and continue paleo, is there a chance my menstrual cycle will regulate?

doc also wanted to know if i would consider going on birth control. i am afraid it will make me gain weight. that is the last thing in the world i want to do, as going paleo has been the only thing in the world that has made me lose weight and i still have about 50 pounds to go. i dont want to do anything to stall that process. i dont want any detours, as the past 20 years of my life not knowing i had pcos have been a "detour!" will going on the pill make me gain weight?

is paleo supposed to get your down to your ideal weight naturally?

thanks all! i'm new to this but it was a godsend to find this group!

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:22 AM

Thanks for the link KC. :-) Sadly, ACV makes me want to puke (I'm not kidding, I have a very sensitive gag reflex) and it ruins anything I put it in, and Chasteberry made me break out in horribly painful cysts that made my face look like I was wearing a red bubbly mask. :-( I suspect that because I'm high in androgens rather than high in estrogen like most PCOS women are, that whatever works for high estrogen women exacerbates me. The best that I've ever found was the high intensity spearmint (reduces androgen), but that's a horrible pain to do long term.

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on November 16, 2011
at 01:06 AM

Egads! Well I guess we can add aggressive lowering of blood sugar to the NAC side effects list. Do you mind sharing the details? What dosage did you take? Did you take it and Metformin the same day? Are you diabetic? I take 600mg. twice a day and haven't noticed much of anything directly related to it.

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 09:39 PM

One more thing wordvixen, which you probably know - once you get weight down with Paleo, your period may come more regularly. mine came in just 35 days this time. Look at earthclinic.com also for natural PCOS remedies (not to "cure" pcos, but to regulate period more and insulin), a lot of people swear by Apple cider vinegar and chasteberry or something? Good luck and thanks for sharing your story!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 09:39 PM

One more thing wordvixen, which you probably know - once you get weight down with Paleo, your period may come more regularly. mine came in just 35 days this time. Look at earthclinic.com also for natural PCOS remedities, a lot of people swear by Apple cider vinegar and chasteberry or something? Good luck and thanks for sharing your story!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Just google "Metformin and B12 deficiency" and you will see hundreds of articles. i've even read that B12 supplementation is now mandatory with Metformin - I had to get off of it. Couldnt believe no doctor had told me about it, I had to find out by googling and it is very, very common.

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 08:57 PM

I just started subscribing after you mentioned it! And yes, read about NAC - one day after taking NAC for the first time, I woke up, fell out of the bed, started throwing up and sweating and gasping for air - it made my blood sugar crazy low -- maybe I should have started introducing it in small doses...I didn't make the NAC correlation until a few days after it happened...so I'd caution all to watch their blood sugar on this..have OJ on hand!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 16, 2011
at 08:10 PM

I don't know if you have signed up for ovarian-cysts-pcos.com newsletter, but just in case you haven't checked it out there was recent post about NAC outperforming Metformin without the side effects. So exciting!

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on August 19, 2011
at 12:30 AM

My doctor didn't say anything when I went off it (she gave me THE LOOK, but she's cool about natural stuff), but I found a lot of references to suicidal depression, panic attacks, and anxiety online when I started researching. I'm glad I could help! I don't know if PCOS is at all genetic or not, but I'm certain that with good nutrition in childhood that it's largely avoidable. Me? I grew up on Spaghettios (or whatever the Smurf version was). I'm starting to look into amino supplementation, and I'm working on nutrient dense foods and high quality fats for now. We'll see!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 17, 2011
at 03:14 PM

Wow - my endo said that only 3 prior patients before me had reported depression/suicidal thoughts. i really felt like i had no life force and almost wanted to kill myself. it has helped me ovulate, but not lose a pound as it has helped many others do. and since ive started eating paleo, my moods have improved a lot. wonder if met affects seretonin, etc. sounds you had same experience. thank you so much for sharing. i didnt think i wanted to reproduce bc i didnt want my children to go through this pcos hell, but youre giving me hope :)

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 17, 2011
at 03:10 PM

wow, so helpful. never heard the vitamin A thing. THANK YOU, i'm going to look into everything you said.

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on August 17, 2011
at 01:09 AM

Interesting about Vitamin A- all I've ever heard about is zinc for hormones/fertility. Thanks for that tid-bit. Maybe I need to stop slacking on the liver. :-)

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 16, 2011
at 06:23 PM

thank you for your input! i hope you get off them soon!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 16, 2011
at 06:20 PM

Interesting, but she avoids fruits, vegetables and nuts like the plague! She has a sensitivity to it though, so I'm sure that info will be helpful to some people. Awesome that she cured it with diet. I am hoping this happens to me too. This is the first time I've ever had my period for 7 days, and I wonder if it's bc of the diet...

58c33847c5b7ecbf6572075df2cdd002

(866)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:15 PM

Thanks for the heads-up about gluten in metformin. I need to ask my pharmacist about that!

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10 Answers

3
8634d4988ced45a68e2a79e69cc01835

(1617)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:05 PM

I would be wary of the pill. For some reason, it seems to be every doctor's stock response to any female problem. Weird periods? The Pill! Acne? The Pill! PMS? The Pill! It's like a blanket drug they throw at you instead of finding less side-effect-ridden ways to help. I gain weight on every pill. In the past 18 years I've been on at least 1/2 a dozen, and every single one made me gain weight (about 15lbs) without fail. The last one I was on (Yaz) the doctor sold me as a miracle drug. "I haven't had any patients that told me they gained weight or lost their sex drive at all!" Both of those happened to me. And I felt like an emotional wreck the whole time. I don't have PCOS, mind you, but still. I'd watch the pill pushers.

As you lose weight, PCOS tends to improve from what I've read about it. I'd stay paleo, and avoid gluten at all costs. I'd stay on the metformin for a while. You might lose weight to the point that you don't need it anymore. I'd stay on it until I was close to/at my goal weight. Make sure the meds you're taking are gluten free also. You've only been paleo a little while, so I'd give it a few months before I'd dropped any medication.

Good luck!

2
6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on August 16, 2011
at 08:02 PM

I also have PCOS, and I think I lucked out by seeing a naturopath to deal with it. My ND said something to me that took a few years for me to really understand, but she said, "Ovaries need tons of vitamin A to function properly." She put me on a medical grade beta carotene, and sure enough I started ovulating properly and got pregnant 2 months after that. Now I try to get my vitamin A from animal sources, which I'm guessing is even easier for my body to assimilate.

I have friends and family members on Metformin, and it might be doing good things for them, but all I see are the side effects. It will definitely deplete your B-12, and possibly cause neuropathy. Paleo itself with lots of healthy animal fat and B vitamins from meat is probably what your body wants to heal itself. I'm not a doc, but I'd say chuck the Metformin, stay the hell away from the pill (unless you want it for birth control), and eat bone marrow and offal on a regular basis.

The next step I'm working on is leptin resistance. My body temp. has gone up a full degree since started following Dr. Kruse's guidelines.

There is also a PCOS newsletter I subscribe to that has a lot of info about Metformin. http://www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com/

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 17, 2011
at 03:10 PM

wow, so helpful. never heard the vitamin A thing. THANK YOU, i'm going to look into everything you said.

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on August 17, 2011
at 01:09 AM

Interesting about Vitamin A- all I've ever heard about is zinc for hormones/fertility. Thanks for that tid-bit. Maybe I need to stop slacking on the liver. :-)

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on September 16, 2011
at 08:10 PM

I don't know if you have signed up for ovarian-cysts-pcos.com newsletter, but just in case you haven't checked it out there was recent post about NAC outperforming Metformin without the side effects. So exciting!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 08:57 PM

I just started subscribing after you mentioned it! And yes, read about NAC - one day after taking NAC for the first time, I woke up, fell out of the bed, started throwing up and sweating and gasping for air - it made my blood sugar crazy low -- maybe I should have started introducing it in small doses...I didn't make the NAC correlation until a few days after it happened...so I'd caution all to watch their blood sugar on this..have OJ on hand!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on November 16, 2011
at 01:06 AM

Egads! Well I guess we can add aggressive lowering of blood sugar to the NAC side effects list. Do you mind sharing the details? What dosage did you take? Did you take it and Metformin the same day? Are you diabetic? I take 600mg. twice a day and haven't noticed much of anything directly related to it.

2
58c33847c5b7ecbf6572075df2cdd002

on August 16, 2011
at 04:30 PM

KC,

I am also on Metformin (1500mg) for insulin resistance (I have believed for a long time that I have PCOS but was ruled out by testosterone levels). I started Paleo in October 2010. I started Metformin in December 2010. I started birth control pills in May 2011.

I'm 37 years old, 5'6" and started at around 240lbs. I didn't lose much on Paleo at first, but when the Metformin was added in it was much easier for me to lose weight. I was started on birth control pills in May for heavy, crampy periods and I have continued to lose weight since then. Everyone is different, though, so its hard to say what your experience would be.

I doubt very much that the symptoms you describe are because of the Metformin - unless there is a gluten buffer causing the issues. I have never heard of neuropathy with Metformin and it is not listed as a known side effect. Neuropathy is more related to poorly controlled diabetes.

Theoretically a low carb diet will help your PCOS. Are you interested in getting pregnant? When I first started Atkins back in the 1990's many women with PCOS reported ovulating for the first time in years after only a couple of months on the diet.

If you just started Paleo in the last couple of weeks I would stick with the diet and Metformin for a month or two (make sure your Metformin is gluten-free) and if you still aren't having a cycle, maybe try a low dose pill.

One other note...I know for me as soon as the scale says 250lbs or higher, my period stops. 249lbs and lower and I get it every month like clockwork. Maybe you just need to get below a certain weight to get things started?

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 08:59 PM

Just google "Metformin and B12 deficiency" and you will see hundreds of articles. i've even read that B12 supplementation is now mandatory with Metformin - I had to get off of it. Couldnt believe no doctor had told me about it, I had to find out by googling and it is very, very common.

2
E918ea361bd5bd068dac83d8e66fdbb0

on August 16, 2011
at 03:38 PM

I'm on metformin and follow a Paleo diet. I found out that I have celiacs because my original metformin pills contained gluten and I was feeling terrible. Check with your pharmacist to see if the pills you are taking have gluten as the binding agent and if so try a different kind without. I know the ultimate goal is to be med free and I believe Paleo is the way as one of the main benefits of eating this way is hormonal balance (especially important for us PCOSers :) good luck!!

58c33847c5b7ecbf6572075df2cdd002

(866)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:15 PM

Thanks for the heads-up about gluten in metformin. I need to ask my pharmacist about that!

1
E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

on August 16, 2011
at 07:22 PM

I also have PCOS, and I've been on Yasmin and Metformin (not at the same time). I've never felt better or more human than I did when I was on Yasmin (aside from the bizarre lemon craving/insanity the first few days), but then we decided to try to get pregnant. My doctor put me on Metformin. Meformin didn't do ANYTHING positive for me at all. No ovulation, and it caused awful spiraling blood sugar issues. Eventually, I ended up with horrible anxiety attacks, panic attacks (not the same thing), and became moderately suicidal (wondering if I should commit suicide, rather hoping to have a lethal car crash, but not actually planning anything out). Of course, at the same time that it all came crashing down, I was experimenting with veganism and using soy supplements and all that sort of junk. When I researched online and found out that those side effects are quite common on Metformin, I discussed stopping them with my husband, who then told me that I had been someone else the entire time that I was taking it, and told me that, yes, I should definitely get the heck off it.

The day after I stopped Metformin, the panic attacks subsided. The anxiety waned the longer I was off it. I'd also stopped trying to be vegan and dropped most of the soy.

I have to take Norethindrone (generic of Aygestin) every other month to get my period, but I had to do that even on Metformin. I did, however, get a natural period a few months ago, so, yay! I also spotted a bit last month, but it was so close to when I had to start the Norethindrone, that I didn't want to wait it out to see if it would actually happen. Either way, my body is getting closer.

I attribute most of the improvements to copious amounts of good fat. I had no idea how low fat I used to be because I never purposely did it. I also am noticing that I break out really badly when I eat high in O6 (chicken skin, bacon, nuts, olive oil), and how quickly my acne began to heal when I increased my dosage of fermented cod liver oil (I assume the O3, but maybe the vitamin D as well). Unlike most other women with PCOS, I don't have high estrogen levels- it's my androgen levels that are high. Either way, it's a hormone imbalance, and good fats will help that. I've also read a lot of success stories of PCOS women getting pregnant after going low carb and/or grain free (both seem to work- I'd think both together would work as well).

The pill isn't a favorite for a lot of women because of all the potential ill effects it can have on your health and future fertility, but not everyone gains weight and gets acne on it. I dropped 20 lbs immediately without trying, and my face cleared up in 6 months on it.

Interesting about the gluten in Metformin. I was still eating SAD (when I wasn't trying to be vegan) when I was on it, but since I've always preferred rice and potatoes over bread, I wonder if it wasn't still having an effect on me?

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 17, 2011
at 03:14 PM

Wow - my endo said that only 3 prior patients before me had reported depression/suicidal thoughts. i really felt like i had no life force and almost wanted to kill myself. it has helped me ovulate, but not lose a pound as it has helped many others do. and since ive started eating paleo, my moods have improved a lot. wonder if met affects seretonin, etc. sounds you had same experience. thank you so much for sharing. i didnt think i wanted to reproduce bc i didnt want my children to go through this pcos hell, but youre giving me hope :)

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on August 19, 2011
at 12:30 AM

My doctor didn't say anything when I went off it (she gave me THE LOOK, but she's cool about natural stuff), but I found a lot of references to suicidal depression, panic attacks, and anxiety online when I started researching. I'm glad I could help! I don't know if PCOS is at all genetic or not, but I'm certain that with good nutrition in childhood that it's largely avoidable. Me? I grew up on Spaghettios (or whatever the Smurf version was). I'm starting to look into amino supplementation, and I'm working on nutrient dense foods and high quality fats for now. We'll see!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 09:39 PM

One more thing wordvixen, which you probably know - once you get weight down with Paleo, your period may come more regularly. mine came in just 35 days this time. Look at earthclinic.com also for natural PCOS remedies (not to "cure" pcos, but to regulate period more and insulin), a lot of people swear by Apple cider vinegar and chasteberry or something? Good luck and thanks for sharing your story!

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on November 15, 2011
at 09:39 PM

One more thing wordvixen, which you probably know - once you get weight down with Paleo, your period may come more regularly. mine came in just 35 days this time. Look at earthclinic.com also for natural PCOS remedities, a lot of people swear by Apple cider vinegar and chasteberry or something? Good luck and thanks for sharing your story!

E2b9c679315c7c9c7265783dde89f350

(1303)

on November 21, 2011
at 12:22 AM

Thanks for the link KC. :-) Sadly, ACV makes me want to puke (I'm not kidding, I have a very sensitive gag reflex) and it ruins anything I put it in, and Chasteberry made me break out in horribly painful cysts that made my face look like I was wearing a red bubbly mask. :-( I suspect that because I'm high in androgens rather than high in estrogen like most PCOS women are, that whatever works for high estrogen women exacerbates me. The best that I've ever found was the high intensity spearmint (reduces androgen), but that's a horrible pain to do long term.

1
B539a8c692e40f6b85cd11d87ec908d4

on August 16, 2011
at 04:01 PM

I don't want to answer definitively for you - because there could be a lot of factors regarding the pill, Paleo and weight gain... However I can share my experience with you.

I am on the pill. I've been on it most of my life due to irregular/insane periods (which now, I'm fairly certain was due to refined wheat products messing with my hormones - but that's a story for another post...).

Two years ago I started eating clean and lost 70 pounds. 4 Months ago I went Paleo and lost another 8ish pounds. I just weighed myself the other day and I'm down to 127 - I was hanging out in the 133-135 range pre Paleo.

So, in my experience, no, you don't necessarily gain weight on the pill.

Also in my experience, Paleo is bringing me down to my ideal weight naturally. Once you get rid of all the junk in your diet that's making you gain/retain unhealthy weight, the weight drops naturally. As long as you keep eating good, natural foods and eating to satiety, you should definitely come to a point where you're hanging out at your naturally ideal weight without even trying.

Hope that helps!

0
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on August 16, 2011
at 05:57 PM

Peggy the Primal Parent cured her PCOS by going Paleo. You might want to read her story here. She also has some great ideas about birth control.

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 16, 2011
at 06:20 PM

Interesting, but she avoids fruits, vegetables and nuts like the plague! She has a sensitivity to it though, so I'm sure that info will be helpful to some people. Awesome that she cured it with diet. I am hoping this happens to me too. This is the first time I've ever had my period for 7 days, and I wonder if it's bc of the diet...

0
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 16, 2011
at 05:46 PM

I'm on the pill temporarily while preparing for IVF and have been on it for about two months and half months straight, almost the same amount of time I've been eating paleo. I eat moderately low carb (average around 70 g per day), which seems to keep my appetite pretty well under control and I have lost 16 pounds so far. So, my guess would be if you are eating low or moderately low carb it will not keep you from losing weight. Having said that, however, I think that diet alone will help your PCOS and I think birth control pills are horrible for your health. This is the first time I've been on them since 1986 and intend to get off them as soon as possible.

Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 16, 2011
at 06:23 PM

thank you for your input! i hope you get off them soon!

0
Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:49 PM

reponse to andrea: I'm writing here bc there is more space...

you sound like you're doing great! That is amazing news about ovulating. I'm not interested in getting preggers yet but AM interested in having a normal mood and ovulation cycle. I am happy to hear paleo regulates it! I think I'll be on it for life...

If you google "metformin B12 neuropathy", you'll see A LOT - when I'm on 1000 mg, I can feel my fingers and toes, when I'm at 1500, I have trouble breathing, can't feel fingers and toes. I'm told I'm not even prediabetic, that's not it. I weight 185 pounds now at 5'8". I read that in about 20% of cases, metformin inhibits the absorption of vitamin B12 which will cause all those side effects. most people don't get this side effect though, which is awesome for them. I was also getting practically suicidal, and didnt know if it was hormones. It felt like I was losing my life force, and I wasnt sure if metformin caused a huge mood dip too. NOw just have to play it out day by day and see what happens.

I just called pharmacy and they said no gluten, but then said macrogol is in it. I wonder if there is any other word besides GLUTEN specifically which would indicate its presence?

And thanks Andrea for the great advice. Sounds like you're doing very well!

0
Bf21fb723238775fa323ba58cbac802e

(15)

on August 16, 2011
at 04:19 PM

Thanks so much to all of you, WOW - I had no idea about metformin possibly having gluten!!!! I wonder if you can get tested for celiac? I'll ask! And I'll get the non-gluten kind.

Then I think I'll stay on it and see if I can get the B12 issue fixed. And take it until my weight is down. Unless I continue to get depression and a mental "fog." - whcih now you've got me thinking could be gluten in metformin.

As for the pill, I was on it when I was 17, more than 10 years ago, and I gained a lot of weight, but I know there are different kinds of pills now. I'm just wary, but it seems like it worked for one of you (and not for other!) I guess everyone's body is different.

THANKS AGAIN, so much!!!!

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