PCOS/Insulin Resistance Support - Metformin doesn't work for me... Anyone else?




ikesgirl80
05-12-2013, 10:31 AM
Hi all! I was diagnosed with IR years ago (2003-2004ish), as was my step dad a couple years before me. He has had really good success with metformin. Myself, oh it was H*LL!

I had burning diarrhea ALL day, and it didn't help the tiredness, hunger, weight loss, or bloating I had. Granted, I did not change my diet. I was also gluten intolerant, and didn't know it yet. And one of the fillers in some brands of metformin is wheat, which was part of the issue. I stopped taking it after a year or so.

After I spiraled into depression and ate in excess of 10,000 calories a day, PER day, and almost lost my 2 best friends in the entire world due to my addiction to food, which was made worse by the IR, I started getting it together. My starting weight was 350 pounds, and my insulin levels were 4 times the maximum normal limit after nearly 20 hours of fasting.

By going gluten free, using "The Carbohydrate Addict's Diet" as a jumping ground, and exercising 3-5 days per week (mostly cardio at the beginning), my IR is under control (normal range after 8 hours fasting), and all the symptoms are gone (except tiredness after a sugar binge, and the darkening on my stomach and girl parts, which are still lightening). But it's taken 2 1/2 years to get here. I recently switched over to the Paleo diet, with limiting fruit to 2-3 servings per day, and careful with bananas. I've also lost 160 pounds, and feeling better than I could ever expect!

So, I was just wondering if there is anyone else out there that controls their IR with just diet and exercise, or other experiences with the metformin? I see all sorts of positives (which is great!), but was wondering if there are other people like me?


Chris


geoblewis
05-12-2013, 01:09 PM
I have been controlling IR (and type 2 diabetes) for nearly five years with Paleo diet, exercise and intermittent fasting. Not perfectly, but fairly consistently. When I'm on top of everything, it works pretty great (although losing weight is still a GIANT struggle for me).

I was put on metformin a little over a year ago. I quit after a month due to similar side effects. After metformin the doctor put me on Janumet (Januvia and metformin), and while my blood sugar numbers were pretty darn perfect (I still had to eat a Paleo diet to achieve that), I felt even worse, spending my days in bed and checking out of my life altogether.

I have eliminated processed foods entirely. I eat nothing with sugar, grains, legumes (except this morning my sons are supposed to be making me waffles, if they ever wake up!). I strive to eat only organic produce and grass-fed or wild-caught protein sources and similarly sourced healthy fats. I generally don't eat fruit, but I do occasionally have seasonal strawberries and watermelon. I'm still struggling with morning high blood sugar levels, so I'm experimenting with meal timing. I balance each meal with a moderate amount of protein, lots of vegetables (and always a serving of greens with each meal), and plenty of healthy fats. I try to keep carb intake under 75 gm/day.

When I eat like this, I do feel pretty good. I am struggling with lethargy, which seems to be a thyroid issue. Trying to figure that part of the puzzle out now.

You've been under quite a bit of stress. I am glad you found your groove!

ikesgirl80
05-12-2013, 02:30 PM
I am just at the beginning of the Paleo diet, and right now, there is not a lot of extra money to buy the grass fed/wild/organic foods. When I find stuff on sale, I get it (having my first organic orange tomorrow!). I have cut out 95-99% of processed stuff (organic veggie crisps are yummy), and I only eat out 1-2 times per month, instead of 1-3 times per week. Last night I ate BBQ and had turkey, ham, dill pickles, and a baked potato.

Blood sugar problems have luckily never affected me. Even when my insulin was at it's highest, my sugars were always good. My most recent blood work (Nov 2012) showed they were still good. I will be having blood work done at the end of May, so we will see how the Paleo diet (March 2013-current) is working.

You're right, my stress has been high lately. Trying to figure the surgery stuff out and the end of the school year, but I am hoping as soon as I get grades in this week and progress reports done, that I will be able to stop freaking out so much! I'm sure my cortisol levels have been way high, which isn't going to help!

You sound like you have a good plan going! If I ever run into problems with my IR/sugar, you can bet I'll be trying some of the things you described in paragraph 3!

Chris


astrophe
05-13-2013, 09:02 PM
I'm off Metformin. Diet seems to do it for me -- whole foods, less wheat/no wheat, vegetarian/vegan meals thrown in there sometimes to lessen hormone load of animal foods.

Call me a "flexitarian."

You've done a lot of good for yourself -- keep at it!

A. :)

rachieready
05-13-2013, 10:00 PM
I was on metformin for a year myself. I have pcos, though my insulin isn't super high, the doc thought the met might help my weight loss efforts. To be honest... the digestive issues, bad dreams, and other side effects were terrible, and I spent the year not putting fourth much effort to lose the lbs. I feel better than ever now that I'm off the stuff. I don't think I realized how bad it was making me feel.

ikesgirl80
05-14-2013, 08:27 AM
I read about the other side effects, and that makes me glad I just had the digestive ones! I already dream very vividly (good dreams or not)!

It really seems that (like with all weight loss/weight related issues), diet is the key.

I felt kinda weird about starting a thread about something NOT working, with no true path in mind. It seems most of us are wheat/grain free, and that seems to be making a huge difference! It makes me wonder how much of all the sickness and disease we have now could have been prevented? But then, think of all the inventions we would have missed should we still be living in caves! lol I wouldn't have all these friends on 3FC!

Skinnyminnie Wannabe
05-15-2013, 10:58 PM
Before my 2008 hysterectomy (ovaries removed then too) I was put on Metformin. I stuck with it for about a year and a half and was gaining rapidly when I insisted I be allowed to go off it. I did not have a regular meal schedule and that may have been part of the issue but it just didn't work out.

beerab
05-15-2013, 11:53 PM
If your blood sugars are normal, you don't really need Metformin IMO. It sounds to me you are doing well on your own.

My doctor prescribed metformin for me, but my blood sugars were always testing at 79-82 at fasting. The metformin made me TERRIBLY ill. I tried slow release, same issue. Finally I asked the doctor why she's even prescribing this to me if my fasting blood sugar AND my A1C were in normal range, and then she told me I didn't have to try it anymore lol.

So yeah, I don't really understand why metformin is prescribed to people with normal blood sugars. I mean, I thought the point of metformin was to lower your blood sugar levels if they are high?

ikesgirl80
05-16-2013, 07:53 AM
If your blood sugars are normal, you don't really need Metformin IMO. It sounds to me you are doing well on your own.

My doctor prescribed metformin for me, but my blood sugars were always testing at 79-82 at fasting. The metformin made me TERRIBLY ill. I tried slow release, same issue. Finally I asked the doctor why she's even prescribing this to me if my fasting blood sugar AND my A1C were in normal range, and then she told me I didn't have to try it anymore lol.

So yeah, I don't really understand why metformin is prescribed to people with normal blood sugars. I mean, I thought the point of metformin was to lower your blood sugar levels if they are high?

I think the theory is that it makes your body use the insulin it produces more efficiently. In type 2 people, they have some insulin production, and the metformin makes it absorb more sugar. In IR, they hope (I assume) that more insulin will "feast" on the sugar, thus lowering your insulin. It works amazing for my step dad. One or two days without it, you would think he has the flu or something. With it, he's active and has everything together.

IrishDMBF
05-16-2013, 08:31 AM
I have been on Metformin for a couple of months. I don't know my insulin or blood sugar yet as I have to have blood work done next week before I go see my endo. However, I have been eating extremely low carb with high protein and I stay away from processed foods as much as I can.
When I was put on metformin my fasting blood sugar was normal but my 2 hour blood sugar was 145 after 2 hours and my fasting insulin was a little high at 28.8 (normal 2.6 - 24.9).
I will say I have had all the gastrointestinal side effects but it hasn't helped me lose weight. In fact when I first went on it I gained a few pounds. I think I will figure out what my insulin levels are next week and then go from there. If they are normal I will stay on metformin for another month or so and then see if diet alone can keep my levels in check.

Skinnyminnie Wannabe
05-16-2013, 11:23 AM
Well, I was told by the new doctor I saw before being referred to the OB/GYN and having the hysterectomy that Metformin was to prevent Type 2 diabetes in PCOS patients.

I had not kept up for years on the latest PCOS developments. I was 17 when I started getting facial and bikini area hirsutism and it really played h--- with my self-esteem. :stress: :halfempty: :sorry:

I saw a dermatologist and was on Tagamet but it didn't do much, and an endocrinologist who seemed at a loss.:?: In college at age 23 I finally got a CAT scan and diagnosis and was put on birth control pills and some kind of steroid, which again didn't do a whole lot but make me bloated and depressed and irritable. So I just learned to deal with my lot by liberal use of mustache bleach and shaving the body hair.

The weight gain had started about age 8 or 9 - I reckon now that was my hormones starting to kick in to prepare for my period starting at 12. I did all the wrong things young girls do - yo yo dieting, etc. Also I am a picky eater with sensory issues around food (have ADD and may be "a little" Asperger's but not enough to be diagnosed - it runs in my family). This presents TONS of dieting challenges, believe you me.

So anyway, back to the doctor visit and the surgery, I had everything out because there was a tumor on my right ovary and they looked for cancer but thankfully found none. In the perimenopausal years my heavy bleeding and miserable periods got worse and worse. The final two were hemorrhages that left me anemic.

But going into immediate surgical menopause I have had to fight that additional impetus towards weight gain over the last 5 years. :(

ikesgirl80
05-16-2013, 11:42 AM
I find it interesting that all of our doctors/assumptions haven't really given us very much clear information. I know each person is different and reacts differently, but shouldn't the theory behind it be the same?

As a teacher of children with autism and behavioral disorders, the theory is the same. You want something, you must earn it by completing work, having good behavior, etc. However, what that looks like for each child is different.

Shouldn't all of the doctors have (or at least give us) the same theory, and then find what works the best... I almost feel like the doctors I've been to in the past have said, "Let's throw everything at the wall and see what sticks."

Skinnyminnie Wannabe
05-16-2013, 03:22 PM
I think what they need to do is ask a few questions before prescribing to find out whether something is going to fit in with the way a person lives. I imagine they assume everyone who goes on Metformin eats 3 regular meals a day at basically the same time and remembers to take an evening pill (something I have a terrible time doing with ADD).

Also I think they should assume that if you're going to be on Metformin you're going to have to have a consistent calorie intake and timing - like my Type 1 diabetic mom had to do with her insulin, and it about drove her nuts. I didn't understand that until I experienced it, and she sometimes had to plan around 4 shots a day! :eek: A logistical nightmare sometimes.

Plus my mom was a homemaker so if she did get a low blood sugar she could treat it. I was trying to hold down a job and take the Met and then I'd get low sugars - and it was retail where they really don't want you to have food so I'd have to sneak it. It was so frustrating.

beerab
05-16-2013, 10:41 PM
I think the theory is that it makes your body use the insulin it produces more efficiently. In type 2 people, they have some insulin production, and the metformin makes it absorb more sugar. In IR, they hope (I assume) that more insulin will "feast" on the sugar, thus lowering your insulin. It works amazing for my step dad. One or two days without it, you would think he has the flu or something. With it, he's active and has everything together.

No that's not right, it supresses glucose production by your liver. So if you have blood sugars in the healthy range, you don't need metformin IMO. I don't understand why doctors would prescribe it despite having no issues with fasting blood sugars or A1C. I control my blood sugars fine according to all my tests. When I started taking the metformin, within days I was exhibiting hypoglycemic symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, headaches, palpitations, shakiness, feeling faint, etc.

I'm not saying you are, but if the medication is making you sick, I wouldn't continue to try using it. Particularly since you seem to have things under control. I have friends who take Metformin and it works great for them, BUT they have issues with their blood sugars while I don't. Specially if the symptoms you have are those of hypoglycemia, if it got too severe it can lead to even worse symptoms, ones that can become irreversible.

ikesgirl80
05-17-2013, 08:55 AM
No that's not right, it supresses glucose production by your liver. So if you have blood sugars in the healthy range, you don't need metformin IMO. I don't understand why doctors would prescribe it despite having no issues with fasting blood sugars or A1C. I control my blood sugars fine according to all my tests. When I started taking the metformin, within days I was exhibiting hypoglycemic symptoms. Nausea, vomiting, headaches, palpitations, shakiness, feeling faint, etc.

I'm not saying you are, but if the medication is making you sick, I wouldn't continue to try using it. Particularly since you seem to have things under control. I have friends who take Metformin and it works great for them, BUT they have issues with their blood sugars while I don't. Specially if the symptoms you have are those of hypoglycemia, if it got too severe it can lead to even worse symptoms, ones that can become irreversible.

Your first paragraph is exactly what I am talking about! My doctor said none of that, and when I asked my step dad how it was suppose to help, he didn't say that either! Since I don't take it anymore, I never bothered to do the research.

I quit taking metformin after about 1 year, due to the gluten containing fillers and the digestive side effects. I agree, if it doesn't start working pretty quickly, try a different med/approach!

DanRae
05-24-2013, 06:05 PM
Metformin also increases the body's sensitivity to insulin. I don't have an issue with my blood sugar levels at all but my insulin was almost 3 times the normal level which is why I was placed on it.