I mentioned in one of my last posts that when I saw Dr. Z he suggested that we try a new drug. We have dabbled with a couple of things over the years – continuing with the phentermine off and on as needed. He mentioned that a combination of the phentermine with the drug Metformin has been working pretty well for many of his patients. He said that it tends to reduce the carb cravings as well as limits the amount of sugar absorbed into the body from diet. Since my weight is up from where I want it and this is a time of shaking things up and getting restarted and refocused, I am willing to go along with what he suggests. Last year I did try the drug Contrave for a few months. That was a different type of drug in that it works on the brain more than the body. I felt pretty nauseous on that and I didn’t like it the way it was making me feel mentally. It was reducing some cravings but, for me, it seemed like it might be affecting my mood as well. I didn’t feel like it was helping me much with my weight loss. Furthermore, as a new drug, it was very expensive and I had to jump through a few hoops to get it filled at the pharmacy with rebates, etc. But, Metformin has been around a long time, is pretty inexpensive, and easy to fill. So, I am giving it a try.
I had heard of Metformin before when used as a drug to treat Type 2 diabetes, gestational diabetes, or pre-diabetes. I haven’t had any form of a diabetes diagnosis thus far so, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about going on a “diabetes” drug. I will say that in the final slide into the end of the school year, my carb / sugar consumption had escalated and I knew that I had to keep that under control. I feel like I have done a pretty good job this summer with correcting many of my bad habits though.
I have not, however, had a chance to run through my recent medical adventures with Dr. Z since my visit last summer. There just isn’t enough time in our brief appointments to go through all of that – especially in my first visit back after such a long time away. But, I will bring it all up with him next time. So, I did do a little Google searching when I got home to educate myself a little more about Metformin and, for my own curiosity, make sure there weren’t any glaring contraindications. What I found was quite the opposite, actually. It is quite possible that the Metformin is a good thing on other fronts.
The medicine reduces the amount of sugar made by the liver, limits the amount of sugar absorbed into the body from the diet, and makes insulin receptors more sensitive (helping the body respond better to its own insulin). All of these effects cause a decrease in blood sugar levels.
The first thing I searched for was Metformin with endometriosis. Now, I never knew I had endometriosis, never had severe cramps, never had trouble getting pregnant, never had any symptoms that would lead me to believe I did – but when they removed my ovary last winter that was the official pathology. My left ovary was found to be completely covered by endometriosis. The right side was totally clear. So, between taking care of that and the ablation, I haven’t had any more issues with my monthly cycles and the heavy bleeding. But, from what I understand, endometriosis can continue to grow everywhere and anywhere and it would not surprise me at all if I am dealing with it somewhere else some day. Turns out, Metformin has been used as an anti-endometrial drug as well as a potential treatment for improving fertility. I definitely don’t care about that in my advancing age and there is no possibility of me getting pregnant now anyway, but I was happy to see that the Metformin could be helpful and not harmful for female issues and endometriosis.
Secondly, I did a quick check to make sure there were no increased risks of pancreatic cancer with Metformin and, again, I found that researchers are actually looking at using the drug to reduce risks for some cancers. Whether the genetic defect I have increasing my pancreatic cancer risk would benefit from this is way too complicated for me (or probably anyone) to determine at this point, I did read enough to make me believe that it wouldn’t be a horrible idea to move forward with taking it. I will, of course, follow up on this with professionals. Getting a handle on blood sugar, reducing weight and inflammation will be very beneficial for me and my risk factors.
So, I have been on the new drug combo for about 2 weeks now. I have not lost a single pound but, I have gone on 2 trips loaded with food and drink and did not gain a single pound either. I have definitely noticed a reduction in cravings. I have not had the potential side effects (nausea or stomach upset) so that is positive. Overall, I am encouraged and hope to see if this, combined with renewing my exercise and meal planning, I can get back to where I want to be. This definitely isn’t a magic pill, it is just one small component in this complicated journey.