PCOS/Insulin Resistance Support - Metformin and unusual/usual side effects?

01-25-2013, 04:15 PM
I just started 500mg of ER metformin on Tuesday. I just got off the phone with the pharmacist, because my doc's office is closed this afternoon.

Nausea is minimal, thankfully, but what I am experiencing is bad headaches and by about lunchtime (I take mine with breakfast), I feel like I could just sleep the rest of the day. I can barely keep my eyes open.

Normal? Will it go away? Abnormal reaction and cause for concern?
what are y'all's experiences with this?

01-25-2013, 04:42 PM
* oh, duh. Pharmacist said he'd never heard of these side effects.

01-25-2013, 05:05 PM
I'm on 500mg ER as well (approximately 3 months duration), and the only side effect I've noticed (and I'm not even sure if this is due to the Metformin or not) is tiredness after a carb-heavy meal. I usually take it in the afternoon/evening so if I do happen to eat carby, it's closer to bedtime anyway!

What are you eating for breakfast? Maybe the food you're eating, or the amount, isn't enough to help prevent the headaches/nausea. Unless you absolutely must take it with breakfast (mine says take on full stomach), perhaps try taking it with lunch or dinner to see if having more in your stomach helps?

I'm not a doctor or pharmacist or anyone like that, so take the advice with a grain of salt ;)

01-25-2013, 05:15 PM
thanks, Penmage- I typically do pretty well with breakfast- eggs, turkey sausage, cheese, and kale or spinach scrambled together...or peanut butter and celery and a handful of almonds. Although I've gotten in the bad habit of having a cup of coffee with creamer and sugar and need to knock that off.

Lunch this week has been more carb heavy, as has dinner. Headache leaves me feeling diminished and then I am more likely to cave in and eat junk.

So the tiredness can be because of the carbs, perhaps? I don't know which came first, lunch or tiredness. They may be too close to call...but I'll see this weekend if one or the other is consistently first.

01-25-2013, 05:20 PM
I take the metformin with dinner ..... I like that better and actually its what my doctor suggested - take it with the biggest meal of the day.

Metofrmin made me really emotional at first, I almost stopped it. Hwoever, that went away after about one week. So hopefully you will acclimate and no longer have side effects. I do think it may have given me headaches at first too.

01-25-2013, 05:26 PM
thank you, Mandypandy. I am not happy to know others have felt this way, but I am glad to know I'm not experiencing something way out of line.

I don't typically eat a lot of dinner, even when I eat junk for dinner- try to have an empty stomach to take my thyroid medicine on. Breakfast is usually the biggest meal for me. I need to trim carbs back down anyhow, and maybe that's going to improve my energy levels.

01-26-2013, 03:11 PM
ugh, I feel like crap! This mess better be short-lived!

01-28-2013, 10:48 PM
got a call back from doc's office, and they don't believe the headaches and droopiness are side effects.

I have been googling this and found several discussions elsewhere where folks have found this to be pretty common effects for 2-3 weeks.

Either way, they told me to stop taking it and let it wear off, then come get samples of a name brand. This isn't good news, because funding is an issue.
Today, I didn't even get out of bed and go to work, the headache and nausea was so bad.

01-31-2013, 08:34 PM
Hi Aianah,

I started taking 500mg this week. I am on my 4th day. The first day, terrible diarrhea. Now, I'm having headaches which have never been a problem for me. All the reading I've done say this CAN happen and should subside. I'll count the days with you until they do!

02-01-2013, 01:46 PM
hi Natalie,
I stopped the generic metformin, and even after 5 days, the side effects were still happening, although to a much lesser degree.
I could accept headaches and nausea, but this was migraine status, and if I can't work, well, it won't be long before I'm in bigger trouble.

today I started the Glumetza. My head is heavy, but not an outright headache (and hope that's as far as it goes), but I'm pretty queasy.

I'd be happy to count days with you!

02-01-2013, 11:39 PM
I will google Glumetza as my headaches on Metformin are not getting any better. I am in a physician weight loss program and I'm going to go back on Monday. It's a bit early that I anticipated, but this is no fun.

02-02-2013, 12:33 AM
No, no it's not. Sorry you're experiencing the same thing I did. I have read that headaches are common, but my doc told me that bad headaches were not typical side effects, so I'm wondering if there are just so many people on a form of it that doesn't sit well, and that's why I found so many reports of headaches? I didn't see any reports of migraines, though- and I know a migraine when it hits.

Today was my first day of the Glumetza- and while the queasiness and diarrhea was expected, I'm bored with it already. My stomach has hurt for the last two weeks, non stop, since I started the generic one at first. However, I can live with that, if it's temporary.
No headache today. My head felt a little woozy and heavy, but not actual pain.
I'll let you know if it changes.

02-02-2013, 03:06 AM
I think if you are just taking it once a day and it seems to make you droopy, try at night and sleep through the droopiness. Most side effects wear off before too long. For me, I get leg pain, like a cramp that won't leave but taking extra folic acid and a b complex seems to keep that at bay.
Hope it helps and good luck.

02-02-2013, 08:29 PM
thanks Fatmad- I may do that. The nausea is worse on this one than on the generic, but fortunately, at least so far, the headaches are only slight.

I've been on extra folic acid, biotin, and B complex already- so I hope this doesn't mean I need more.

02-02-2013, 11:17 PM
I got nighttime hallucinations with Metformin and had to stop it. I was seeing things out of the corner of my eye, then when it was really bad the trees outside my window had florescent squigglies dancing around each branch. The final straw was after 6 nights of this I woke up shaking my husband!!! It startled both of us and I immediately stopped taking it after that. I've never had nighttime issues or any type of psychosis except when I take it. Oy, no thank you!

02-03-2013, 03:43 PM
I too, am just starting on Metformin. I took it for a week- bad diarrhea, EXHAUSTED & headache. Stopped taking it for 2 weeks. Randomly talking with a neighbor, mentioned what I was doing, turns out she too had taken Metformin, lost a ton of weight, PCOS issues, etc. She said, try to get through the first 2- 4 weeks & it will subside. Needless to say, took her advice, back on it again for a week... Diarrhea is back but I am finding ONLY when I eat salads. I can eat a plate full of cooked veggies & this doesn't happen. So, don't know if this helps or not, but I feel your pain. Keep me posted & BEST OF LUCK!

02-03-2013, 10:12 PM
Michelle, that's awful! I don't think I could deal with that, either! Are you using a different medication as substitute, or what have you done to manage?

MFG, thank you for your input. Today was the worst on the Glumetza (this is day 4), but still not AS bad as the generic metformin. I don't understand, if they're all metformin, why they're different, but I guess that's how it is. You'd think medicine would be more uniform than brands of crackers.

anyway, I pretty much live on fresh greens. I don't cook much, I'm known to stand in front of the fridge door, with it open, and stuff raw spinach in my mouth. Diarrhea or no, I won't be dropping my raw greenery. (I say that, but I guess it would depend on the severity of the issue).

today I had an ugly headache and slept most of the afternoon away. I find this completely unacceptable- I've already spent far too many of my days feeling crappy and in bed! I'll give it another week, and if I don't see some improvement, I can't say I'll devote more time to it.

I did talk to the pharmacist and he said there was no reason not to take it at night, but with extended release, side effects are more spread out. As I feel pretty decent now, outside of being really tired, headache is low grade- I'll try taking the medicine tomorrow night and see if I can sleep the side effects away and feel decent during the day.

I went to the barn with a chicken sandwich in hand and thought maybe I'd better eat, but I carried it around in my pocket for an hour (with an entourage of dogs) before I managed to get it all eaten.

I'm glad I'm not alone, but I sure wish I'd been so interested in eating healthier when I was younger. My kids have the same craptastic habits I did for so long, and it's no easy project to overhaul how one eats, even when one IS wanting to. And I wouldn't wish this junk on any of you, or anyone else, either.
I know eating habits aren't the only part of this equation, but it is the one thing that has a major influence that we do have some control over.

02-03-2013, 10:13 PM
OH! I meant to ask- anyone else feel like crying for no reason? I seem to be really reactive. Not depressed, not blue, not even sad. Just feel like crying. It's weird.

Crazy Newfie Jen
02-03-2013, 10:26 PM
I'm a pharmacy technician (NOT a pharmacist) but definitely talk to your pharmacist. I know that sometimes people make react to one generic over another. Also, I've heard the pharmacists say that make sure you take it with food, and it usually helps with side effects. Again, not a pharmacist but I recommend you talk a few different options with him/her.

02-04-2013, 02:29 PM
Instead of Metformin I'm now trying a regimen from a nutritionist:
Chaste Tree 4x/day,
Boswellia 4x/day, and
Vitamin D3 10,000 IUs/day.

I'm starting tomorrow when they all come in the mail. I know Metformin can really help women when they can handle it, so I wouldn't write it off. But it was causing deep psychosis issues for me at night and I just cannot do it!! And I have absolutely zero mental illness history.

02-04-2013, 03:16 PM
I am on week two of Meformin. The diarrhea (which was horrible) is gone. If anything, it helps me now because my Profast nutrition is known to constipate. I haven't had a headache in two days. Maybe those are going away as well. All that is left is the exhaustion. I need to start taking it at night. I just try to get it taken earlier because I hate thinking about taking a pill. Sounds silly, but I dread them. I'm hoping in a week or two, I can tolerate the medication. It's hard to be patient when you feel crappy. Yet, I tend to think I really need this to correct my PCOS, so I'm willing.

02-06-2013, 07:35 PM
Michelle, is it helping?

Natalie, good news! My stomach upset is lessening, headache is still present, but mild, and the tiredness is still hanging on. I'm taking it at night, with dinner, as of last night. I can't tell yet if it's making any difference.

I realized yesterday morning, when I woke up, that I have been having nightmares rather often. I typically have a nightmare about once every 5 years or thereabouts, and three in the last two weeks. Doc's office told me it's from my sugar dropping too low in the night, which I've read online, as well. So I have a handful of nuts or something before I turn in. We'll see.

Also, nurse told me I should keep carbs at about 20 grams a DAY, and that seems impossibly low. That's about a cup of yogurt, or a piece of bread. For the day. When my dad became diabetic, and was on meds for it (he's since off them), he was at more like 60 a day, because the meds dropped his sugar. So I'm going to stick with what I know works for me, diet-wise, and see what the metformin adds to that equation.
I'm interested in eating healthier, not deprivation.

02-06-2013, 09:59 PM

20 grams a day? The lowest I've seen published is 30 grams and that was in the induction of Atkin's diet. I'm glad you mentioned the sugar dropping too low, I've cut out most sugar...I'll be more aware of it. Good job on doing what feels right for you and not blindly following that advice.

02-08-2013, 07:25 PM
Natalie, that's what she said! I'm not about to try to follow that.

Last night was bad- I KNEW I was crashing, and I'd had a candy bar yesterday afternoon. I could feel it- I was almost asleep on my feet. I got comfy on the bed for just a few minutes and then it was all I could do to stay awake. Woke up late and had some nuts and ice cream (I know, stupid). Then, this morning, I woke with an ugly headache again. And I've been dragging ALL DAY.

I am half tempted to buy a sugar checker machine thing and use it to try and help me gauge how things are changing so I can KNOW what my food is doing, but then I think, well, I'm still in the first month, so I need to just try and eat the way I know I should. The consequences just seem more severe when I mess up now.
And I don't need the added expense of a glucose meter and strips if I don't have to have it.

02-10-2013, 08:49 PM
We are thinking alike, I've been considering a glucose meter too. They are not as expensive as I thought, but I'm still not 100% sold on getting one. If I get one, I'll let you know if it helps.

02-11-2013, 11:26 AM
Natalie, the meters aren't expensive, but the strips are. As in, right now I just have to adjust my diet back to what I was doing that worked and stick with it.

I've also started using Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar with honey and cinnamon, about 20 minutes before a meal. I just started this Saturday, though. I will say I need to figure this out, because I can tell when I'm crashing (and when you're about to climb aboard your high horse and go for a ride is NOT a good time to crash), but the problem is I'm not HUNGRY at that time.

So I need to have snacks on hand like nuts or cheese or something I can grab and take to the barn with me.

02-14-2013, 11:39 AM
Hey guys- the Chaste Tree and Boswellia regimen so far is making me feel excellent. I feel happy, super cuddly with my husband (it seemed my libido was non-existent the past 2 years!), and more balanced. I have not lost weight yet, however. Not sure if it's supposed to help me lose weight, but at least it makes me feel normal to the point where I can workout, be happy, and romantic. My nutritionist stressed I had to get the supplements from her because other ones that are available to the public without special order aren't the correct dose/quality. It's about $50 a supplement so $100/month, which isn't bad. That's like the cost of Insulite.

02-14-2013, 10:06 PM
Michelle, that's fantastic! I'd be interested in knowing more about the hows and whys of this combination...

I learned today, in no uncertain terms, sugar overload will knock me on my rear. I had a soda (haven't had one in over a month) because I woke up with a bad headache, and caffeine often helps. Well, a lady (who also has IR) at work brought goodies and I had some, against my better judgement.
Not only did the diarrhea return with a vengeance, but I crashed hard.

My weight has actually gone up two pounds since I started this medicine, because my eating has been all over the map, trying to figure out what works.

02-18-2013, 11:39 AM
I'm through with metformin.
I know my doc's office is going to say that I haven't given it time, but it's ridiculous how often I crash. I can't feel it coming until it's too late, because I'm not hungry.
I'm having to eat every 20-30 minutes, and still have the neuropathy in my feet, which was the main reason I was taking it.
I'm exhausted all the time, and I ache like I've slept wrong or pulled something.

I'm just going to go back to what I was doing that was working- it was slow, but the weight was coming off and I felt decent, save the neuropathy.

I went to an event this weekend, and I took what I knew I could nibble on (except not enough of it)- I was astounded at how much JUNK people not only pay way too much for (just money, I know health costs are far higher) and stuff into their kids to keep them pacified. I could not eat like that and function the next day.

It drove home the point that I really HAVE changed the way I eat! I just need to continue to refine my choices.

I've started using raw, unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar with cinnamon and honey, and that has been shown to help, in studies, I'm reading. I'll stay on board, though.

02-20-2013, 12:53 PM
The Chaste Tree/Boswellia/Vitamin D3 protocol is supposed to help stimulate the pituitary gland to release eggs or release estrogen or something... it's supposed to bring on a real period that can get you pregnant and stuff.

However I'm not sure if that's blocking testosterone or helping my IR. All I know is that I'm super happy, super cuddly with the hubby, and have an overall feeling of well being.