Metformin therapy for the reproductive and metabolic consequences of polycystic ovary syndrome

Diabetologia. 2017 Sep;60(9):1656-1661. doi: 10.1007/s00125-017-4306-3. Epub 2017 Aug 3.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), the most common hormonal disorder among women of reproductive age, has various metabolic and reproductive consequences. Metformin was originally shown to lower testosterone levels in women with PCOS in the 1990s, an effect presumably related to its insulin sensitising actions. However, the precise mechanisms of metformin action in PCOS remain unclear and there is considerable heterogeneity in the clinical response to this therapy in women with PCOS. Recent evidence indicates that genetic factors may play a significant role in predicting response to metformin therapy in PCOS and future studies are needed to further identify women who are most likely to benefit from this therapy. At present, there is no clear evidence to support broad metformin use in PCOS. Well-designed prospective trials are needed to establish clear benefit for metformin use in the treatment of the reproductive and metabolic consequences associated with PCOS.

Keywords: Body composition; Genetic mechanism; Hyperandrogenism; Insulin resistance; Lipid profile; Live birth; Menstrual irregularity; Polymorphisms; Review; Testosterone; The metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Metformin / therapeutic use*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / metabolism
  • Reproduction / drug effects


  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Metformin