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Metformin in Reproductive Biology


Initially produced in Europe in 1958, metformin is still one of the most widely prescribed drugs to treat type II diabetes and other comorbidities associated with insulin resistance. Metformin has been shown to improve fertility outcomes in females with insulin resistance associated with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and in obese males with reduced fertility. Metformin treatment reinstates menstrual cyclicity, decreases the incidence of cesareans, and limits the number of premature births. Notably, metformin reduces steroid levels in conditions associated with hyperandrogenism (e.g., PCOS and precocious puberty) in females and improves fertility of adult men with metabolic syndrome through increased testosterone production. While the therapeutical use of metformin is considered to be safe, in the last 10 years some epidemiological studies have described phenotypic differences after prenatal exposure to metformin. The goals of this review are to briefly summarize the current knowledge on metformin focusing on its effects on the female and male reproductive organs, safety concerns, including the potential for modulating fetal imprinting via epigenetics.

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