Relative Desirability of Metformin vs. Birth Control Pill in Treating PCOS in Women of Later Reproductive Age (SHK002)

  • End date
    Apr 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    University of Virginia
Updated on 15 February 2022
type 2 diabetes mellitus
impaired glucose tolerance
insulin sensitivity
Accepts healthy volunteers


The goal of this study is to determine the relative desirability of metformin vs. oral combined hormonal contraceptives (OCs) in treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in women of later reproductive age. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Questionnaire (PCOSQ) score will be used as a proxy for patient satisfaction. In light of their respective effects on the classic and metabolic facets of PCOS, metformin will provide non-inferior patient satisfaction compared to OCs in later reproductive age women with PCOS.


This is a randomized, controlled, double-blinded, crossover study. The investigators will recruit women with PCOS in ages 40-49 yo. Subjects will be randomized to either receive metformin (2000 mg daily) or low dose oral contraceptives (OCs: 20 mcg ethinyl estradiol/norethindrone acetate 1mg) for a total of 6 months, and they will crossover to the other treatment for the following 6 months. Subjects will have the following assessed at baseline and 6 months after each study medication: blood pressure, weight, waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), average intermenstrual cycle length (in the previous 3 months), Ferriman-Gallwey score (as a measure of hirsutism), total testosterone (T), sex hormone binding globulin, calculated free T, fasting insulin, fasting glucose, 2-h glucose (during oral glucose tolerance test), Matsuda index, HgA1c, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, triglycerides, estimated cardiovascular risk (Framingham risk score), health-related quality of life using both PCOS questionnaire (PCOSQ) and the Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36), and severity of anxiety using Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7) questionnaire. For safety surveillance, the investigators will measure electrolyte levels, renal function, liver function, and pregnancy tests immediately before study mediation initiation and every 3 months. For statistical analysis, per PCOSQ domain, the post-treatment QoL scores will be analyzed via a linear mixed model (LMM), in which the LMM will be specified in accordance with a 2 treatment by 2 period crossover design. The investigators determined that if 73 subjects complete the study, the investigators expect to have at least an 80% chance of rejecting the null hypothesis that QoL is inferior with metformin therapy vs. OCs.

Condition Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Treatment Metformin, Oral combined hormonal contraceptives
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03905941
SponsorUniversity of Virginia
Last Modified on15 February 2022


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Women with PCOS aged 40-49 years. Subject is considered to have PCOS if she has current or verifiable history of: a) clinical and/or biochemical evidence of hyperandrogenism plus b) oligomenorrhea or irregular menstruation (substantially inconsistent menstrual cycle length). Subjects with fewer than 10 menses/year or average menstrual cycle length >35 days are allowed to participate if they have a compelling past history of oligomenorrhea (average menstrual cycle length >45 days or fewer than 9 menses/year) or irregular menstruation
Screening safety labs within normal reference ranges although mild abnormalities that are common in obesity and/or hyperandrogenism will not be grounds for exclusion (see exclusion criteria)
Subjects must be willing and able to provide written informed consent
Willingness to strictly avoid pregnancy (using non-hormonal methods) during the time of the study
Willingness and ability to comply with scheduled visits and study procedures

Exclusion Criteria

Postmenopausal status (i.e., absence of periods for previous year plus elevated follicle stimulating hormone [FSH] level)
Biochemical evidence for perimenopause as defined by an anti-Mullerian hormone <0.5 ng/mL. As an alternative, cycle day 3 FSH > 9 IU/L (with concomitant estradiol level >80 pg/mL), if this testing is available, will serve as evidence of perimenopause status. NOTE: If FSH >9 IU/L on screening (but it is not cycle day 3), FSH and estradiol will be repeated on cycle day 3
History of hysterectomy and/or bilateral oophorectomy
BMI 40 kg/m2
Inability to comprehend what will be done during the study or why it will be done
Being a study of older women with PCOS, children and men will be excluded
Pregnancy or lactation within the past 6 months. Subjects with a positive pregnancy test will be informed of the result by the screening physician
History of (or clinical evidence for) Cushing's syndrome or adrenal insufficiency
History of congenital adrenal hyperplasia or 17-hydroxyprogesterone (17-OHP) >200 ng/dL, which suggest the possibility of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. 17-OHP will be collected during follicular phase. NOTE: if a 17-OHP >200 ng/dL and is confirmed on repeat testing, an ACTH-stimulated 17-OHP <1000 ng/dL will be required for study participation
Total testosterone >150 ng/dL, which suggests the possibility of virilizing neoplasm
DHEA-S greater than 1.5 times the upper limit of normal range (mild elevations may be seen in PCOS, so elevations < 1.5 times the upper limit of normal will be accepted in these groups)
Diagnosis of diabetes mellitus (DM), fasting glucose 126 mg/dL, or a hemoglobin A1c of 6.5%
Abnormal thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Subjects with stable and adequately-treated hypothyroidism, reflected by normal TSH values, will not be excluded
Moderate to severe hyperprolactinemia. Mild prolactin elevations may be seen in PCOS, and elevations < 1.5 times the upper limit of normal will be accepted in this group
Persistent liver abnormalities, with the exception that mild bilirubin elevations will be accepted in the setting of known Gilbert's syndrome. Mild transaminase elevations may be seen in women with obesity, so elevations <1.5 times the upper limit of normal will be accepted in this group
Persistent hematocrit <36% and hemoglobin <12 g/dL
Abnormal sodium, potassium, or bicarbonate concentrations or elevated creatinine concentration
Significant history of pulmonary dysfunction (e.g., asthma or COPD requiring intermittent systemic corticosteroid, pulmonary hypertension, etc.)
History of known or suspected congestive heart failure
History of known or suspected ischemic heart disease or cerebrovascular disease
History of hypertension
History of uncontrolled/untreated dyslipidemia. Subjects with stable and adequately treated dyslipidemia reflected by normal lipid panel values will not be excluded
History of complicated valvular heart disease (e.g. pulmonary hypertension, risk of atrial fibrillation, history of subacute bacterial endocarditis)
History of stroke
History of smoking
History of severe cirrhosis or liver tumor (e.g. hepatocellular adenoma or malignant hepatoma)
Use of anticonvulsants, rifampicin or rifabutin therapy. The interaction of these drugs with OCs will not be harmful to the subjects, but it will reduce the effectiveness of OCs
History of venous thromboembolism (e.g. deep venous thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism (PE))
Personal history of blood clotting disorders (e.g., protein C, protein S, positive antiphospholipid antibodies)
First-degree relative history of blood clotting disorder, unless the same disorder has been formally excluded for the study subject
History of migraine headaches
History of breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer
Note: If endometrial thickness on transvaginal ultrasound is >8 mm in the proliferative (follicular) phase or >14 mm in the secretory (luteal) phase, the subject will be referred to a gynecologist for further evaluation (38). These particular subjects will be required to obtain a clearance from their gynecologist to participate in this study
Note: Any abnormal labs may be repeated to exclude a lab error
No medications known to affect the reproductive system can be taken in the 2 months prior to screening and in the 3 months prior to the study. Such medications include oral contraceptive pills, metformin, progestins, glucocorticoids, anti-psychotics, and/or mood stabilizers that are known to cause hormone abnormalities
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