Pregnancy is like a cruise. Some people sail right through, laughing and drinking mock-appletinis. Some people stand by the railing and barf up their guts. Some don’t want to miss a moment of this special experience. Some would rather you wake them up a day or two after they arrive home with their little souvenir.
But women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) have extra levels of stress – the fear of complications. And metformin might help pregnant women with that.
This was a placebo-controlled, double-blind study, which is close to the gold standard of clinical trial design. The women’s average BMI (body mass index) was near the upper border of “overweight,” close to “obese.” They were pregnant, and they had been diagnosed with PCOS. Half received metformin, and half received placebos. They were followed from their first trimester through the entire course of their pregnancy.
Researchers were looking at how the metformin treatment affected the outcome of the pregnancy:
- Were the mothers able to carry their babies to term?
- Did they miscarry?
- Did they deliver prematurely?
- Did they develop gestational diabetes (diabetes associated with pregnancy)?
Sadly, the metformin treatment had no effect on the development of gestational diabetes. Based on past studies, researchers didn’t expect it to. But according to the study, metformin might help pregnant women improve the chances of carrying the babies to term. Both miscarriages and premature deliveries were reduced in the metformin group (5%) compared to those on placebo (10%). And less weight was gained over the course of the pregnancy in the metformin group.
A 2012 study had similar results using metformin treatment to increase fertility and to try to improve pregnancy outcomes. The study of both normal weight and obese women with PCOS was also double-blind and placebo-controlled. And in that case, the metformin treatment was especially helpful for the obese PCOS women.
It’s not the whole answer. But it looks like metformin might help pregnant women increase the odds of smooth sailing through pregnancy.