Monthly Archives: March 2012

Natural Alternative to Metformin Therapy related to PCOS


The Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association released an article a few days ago describing a natural alternative to Metformin therapy, NCA, short for N-Acetyl-Cysteine. that many PCOS women are not familiar with.  Taking N-Acetyl-Cysteine may be a better alternative than Metformin due to its natural form and lack of severe side effects often associated with Metformin.  Below is the article from the PCOS Association and some links to help you in your research.

PCOSupport Organization

Here is this week’s Health Byte from the PCOSA. 

A Natural Alternative to Metformin


Doctors often prescribe metformin (glucophage) as a way to reduce the symptoms of PCOS, even though the drug is not specifically approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treating polycystic ovarian syndrome.


In fact, many women using metformin experience adverse side effects. These can range from a general malaise (not feeling well), to disturbances in the gastrointestinal tract and vitamin B12 deficiency. If you’re one of these women, it may be time to switch to a natural supplement called NAC.


According to new research, it appears that NAC (n-acetyl-cysteine) is a healthy alternative which doesn’t have metformin’s side effects. NAC is a nutritional supplement derived from the amino acid cysteine. Amino acids are the basic building blocks of protein.


Researchers at Erclyes University in Turkey studied 100 women with PCOS for six months. One group took 500 mg. of metformin 3 times a day. The other group took 600 mg of NAC 3 times a day.


As metformin is a drug and NAC is a nutritional supplement, you might think the former would produce better results. But you’d be wrong.


There was virtually no difference between metformin and NAC on the women’s condition. Both groups of women showed improvement in such areas as testosterone reduction, insulin normalization, lessening of body hair (hirsutism) and menstrual regularity.


In addition, both metformin and NAC lowered total cholesterol but NAC was better than metformin in lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol. The researchers concluded: “Metformin and NAC appear to have comparable effects on hyperandrogenism (excessive production of androgens), hyperinsulinemia (excessive levels of insulin) and menstrual irregularity in women with PCOS.”


And that’s not all. Other medical research has shown that NAC is effective in additional areas that benefit women with PCOS, such as:

  • Reduced insulin resistance
  • Improved probability of ovulation
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved detoxification
  • Reduced consequences of NASH (non-alcoholic liver disease)
  • Reduced pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia Reduced “advanced glycation products” (AGEs)


Oner G et al, Clinical, endocrine and metabolic effects of metformin vs N-acetyl-cysteine in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 2011 Aug 8.
Christine DeZarn
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association, Inc. (PCOSA) 
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Moving Onward


I sometimes do not know whether to find it comforting or disconcerting when I think about all of the tests and steps involved in preparing for IVF.  It almost makes me feel like we are back at the drawing board 2 years ago trying to figure out what is wrong in the first place.  A single item of comfort for myself is having been through three previous rounds of injectable medications.  I know a few other women who have undergone IVF after multiple IUI cycles with clomid and one the hardest things for them is adjusting to the many shots given over the course of a several weeks.  I am actually thankful that I have been through this already and will not have the added anxiety of not knowing what to expect when I start shoving needles into my stomach and legs.  (Oh the little pleasures right?). But here’s to our first IVF try and all of the little roller coasters that are sure to go along with it!





Follow Resolve as they work hard to fight for the awareness and rights of the infertility community.  Currently Resolve is gearing up for Advocacy Day 2012 on April 25 in Washington, D.C.  The main focus of the advocacy group is to help pass the Family Act of 2011, a significant tax credit for families undergoing IVF treatment.


The Decision to Take Time Off


I think many women come to a point in their infertility journey when enough is enough, at least for a moment.  That moment may be a month or two, or a year; whichever is needed to bring yourself back to reality and your body back to normalcy.

My husband and I have been on the roller coaster for about 2 years.  Within a year of TTC I was diagnosed with PCOS, he with male factor due to low testosterone, began seeing a reproductive endocrinologist, and started treatments.  The second year brought a decision of IVF or IUI with injectables.  Being reasonable human beings we decided to five IUI with injectables a try and hope for the best.  After three back-to-back treatments (with a month in-between to heal my hyper-stimulated ovaries) we are moving on to IVF.  I had every intention of moving on right away, I am very aggressive and not to mention I am impatient and like instant gratification.  However, as I was sitting on our couch sobbing over yet another negative blood test by husband plead his case for me to take a break before pursuing our first round of IVF.

My wonderful husband, who is always supportive and encouraging, presented a strong case and persuaded my to sleep on it (like I slept at all that night).  After a couple days of thinking about everything he was incredibly right.  I guess you don’t always realize what is happening to you but those closest to you do.  He pointed out that he has been watching me in pain for a year, and it’s just not normal.  When I look back he is right.  I feel like my ovaries are about to die.  I don’t think they ever rid of all the follicles they produce and I don’t believe the swelling and fluid retention completely goes down.  “Do what you like and for yourself, get back to the gym, read”.  It’s the truth.  If I am going to be prepared physically and mentally to go through the invitro fertilization process and hope for the best outcome (not to mention spend incredible amounts of money) I should be as well prepared as possible.  So here’s to taking time!



The TWW (or Two Week Wait) must be one of the most agonizing times during an infertile’s treatment.  You go through weeks, even months, of injections, doctors appointments, blood draws, ultrasounds, medications, and then the big day comes with a crescendo then quickly dissipates into a world of solitude and wait for an entire two weeks before you have an answer, hopefully the answer you so desperately desire.

The first week of your inevitable two week wait is the easiest.  You know that you have two weeks to wait so one seems to not even worry about the first week aside from possibly taking it a bit easy in the hopes that the embryo will attach itself.  (Or that an embryo was created and will attach itself).  Besides, you have plenty to catch up on around the house and at work because you have spent the preceding weeks worrying about injection times and doctor appointments.

The second week begins to draaaag.  Work moves by like a worm on dry cement and each day feels like it will never end.  Not that you are wishing your life away but you really want to know the outcome of this latest attempt at family building.  After you finally make it through most of the second week you reach the last few days.  During these last few days you begin to question every twinge, ache, and stomach gurgle looking for some sign that you are pregnant or that Aunt Flow is coming.  You are running to the restroom every five minutes to check on Aunt Flow and nearing the point of driving yourself to insanity.  You lay awake at night staring at the ceiling, thinking, imagining, dreaming, wondering “if” but you know that you really wont know for sure until either your menses begins or when the nurse calls you in the afternoon with the results of your BETA test.

The TWW period can be utterly miserable but keeping yourself busy, positive, and away from the internet fertility sites where you can search for early signs of pregnancy symptoms are the easiest ways to make it through.

Welcome to my World


When I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome I, like many people facing the same fate, immediately cleaned the shelves of the local bookstores for every book about PCOS and infertility that I could find.  I feverishly spent weeks and months reading followed by months of searching the Internet for more material and information.  Amazingly, many written works exist in conjunction with blogs, websites, forums, groups, chat rooms, and I have always been thankful that I am going through this confusing and emotional time in what is so blissfully referred to as the information age.  If this time were still the dark ages when information was only found by relying on the books available at the library and hard to come by without the incredible advancements of technology that allows all information to instantly be accessible via the internet I would probably be driving myself further insane due to over-thinking, analyzing, and self-diagnosis.

Though I have found a wealth of information and have indulged in an absorbent amount of it not many written works are available dealing with both Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and infertility at the same time.  Knowing what I do, a significant majority of the women suffering from this confusing and multi-faceted disorder face an upward hill of fertility struggles too, in fact, it is how most women discover that she has PCOS in the first place.  So this blog is for you, and for me; the woman who is suffering from the effects and symptoms of PCOS and trying to create a family at the same time.