The primary connection between metformin and pregnancy is that this medication is often used to treat poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and the problems it can cause for women attempting to conceive. This condition is a common cause of infertility in young women. Some women may also take this medication during pregnancy in order to control blood sugar or to prevent gestational diabetes.
PCOS is a condition which affects a woman’s hormones. Women with this syndrome often have too much estrogen and testosterone and too little progesterone. They are likely to not ovulate regularly, and are at an increased risk of certain health issues. Many women who have PCOS also have insulin resistance, which is a precursor to type-2 diabetes. Taking metformin may help alleviate PCOS symptoms and control blood sugar.
Another connection between metformin and pregnancy is that taking this medication may make pregnancy more likely to occur in those with PCOS. It may help to regulate certain hormones along with blood sugar. Most women do well on this drug and there is a low risk of serious side effects.
Sometimes metformin and pregnancy also go together because doctors may encourage some women to continue taking this drug during pregnancy. There is no indication that metformin increases the risk of birth defects in infants whose mothers take this drug during all stages of pregnancy. In most cases uncontrolled blood sugar is more dangerous than taking this medication. Infants whose mothers took this medication throughout pregnancy were found to have similar weights, heights, and motor development as infants whose mothers did not take metformin.
Women who are already taking metformin and become pregnant should not discontinue this medication without a doctor’s permission. Some studies show that metformin and pregnancy are compatible in those with a risk of developing gestational diabetes because it may lower that risk. There is also some evidence to suggest that mothers who take metformin during pregnancy may also have lower incidences of miscarriage.
Insulin resistance before and during pregnancy are major risk factors in developing Type 2 and gestational diabetes. These are serious health conditions which could impact the health of mothers and their babies. Taking metformin along with insulin in some cases can be beneficial. Women should also practice healthy eating habits and exercise regularly to avoid these health risks.