Actos: New Hope for PCOS Sufferers
Actos, the latest drug in a long line of medications used for treating various blood sugar disorders, may offer hope to infertile women suffering from Type II diabetes or polycystic ovarian syndrome/disorder (PCO)**.
In short, the theory behind PCO is that the body does not effectively use the insulin it produces, usually leading to, among many other problems, irregular menstrual cycles and high blood glucose levels, making it very difficult to conceive a child.
PCO has only been treated with diabetic medication for a relatively short time. Presently, there are five types of drugs used to treat Type II diabetes (or PCO), each one dealing with the problems differently. One class of drug decreases the amount of glucose produced by the liver, another gradually stimulates more insulin production from the pancreas, another delays the absorption of sugar into the blood, and still another class stimulates sudden surges of insulin by the pancreas. A fifth class works to resensitize the body to insulin.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the summer of 1999, Actos is now widely available and easily prescribed, and falls into the "insulin-sensitizing" category of diabetic medications.
Insulin-sensitizing drugs differ from their counterparts in that they help the body more effectively use the insulin it already makes. This in turn lowers the blood glucose levels, and in many cases, regular ovulation begins again. In fact, the handouts given with Actos and its sister drugs Avandia and Rezulin, actually warn against the possibility of becoming pregnant unexpectedly while using the drug. But, in the case of PCO sufferers, this can be a godsend.
What makes Actos a promising addition to the insulin-sensitizer family is the absence (thus far) of the troubling side effects associated with the other drugs, most commonly, gastrointestinal discomfort and liver problems. Because this drug hasn't been on the market all that long, the FDA recommends use of the same protocols as with the other drugs in its class, and suggests having simple liver enzyme tests bi-monthly for the first year as a precautionary measure.
Actos may be used alone or in conjunction with other diabetic drugs or insulin as directed by your health care provider. There are a few different dosages available making it easier to find the correct level for you. Blood glucose level improvement has been noted in as short of time as two to four weeks of use, and often leads to rapid resumption of normal cycles.
Actos is not for people with Type I (insulin dependent) diabetes or for use when pregnant. As it is a new drug, there is insufficient information available on how it would affect mother or baby during pregnancy, or whether or not it is transferred through milk when breastfeeding.
Actos works best when used in conjunction with a healthy diet low in carbohydrates and a regular exercise program. As with any new medication or diet changes, seek advice from your professional health care provider before trying.
*Special Note: The writer of this article became pregnant for the first time after four months of using Actos and following a reduced-carbohydrate diet. :-)
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