Medical phenomenon: Ozempic's impact on fertility issues leading to unexpected pregnancies

By Stephanie Srakocic | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published March 28, 2024

Key Takeaways

  • Women who previously struggled with infertility are experiencing unplanned pregnancies while taking the weight loss drug Ozempic.

  • Studies have shown that Ozempic users lose significant weight.

  • Healthy weights are linked to increased fertility.

In 2023, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wegovy, a semaglutide product, as a primary weight loss treatment. Today, both Ozempic and Wegovy, along with similar drugs such as Mounjaro, are being used by people around the world to achieve weight loss goals. As a growing number of people take these drugs, there have been increasing accounts of unexpected side effects. Notably, women with fertility struggles or who were taking birth control are reporting pregnancy while taking Ozempic.[][][] 

On social media, multiple threads, groups, and forums are dedicated to this phenomenon. Women around the country are joining the online discussion to share stories of their unexpected pregnancies. Babies conceived during the use of these weight loss drugs are being called “Ozempic babies.”[]

For many who become pregnant while taking Ozempic, the pregnancies aren’t just unplanned; they’re also a shock. Some Ozempic users were taking birth control when they discovered they were pregnant; others had been experiencing infertility for years. Some had dealt with multiple failed pregnancy attempts and unsuccessful fertility treatments. They weren’t expecting a few months of Ozempic to be the answer. 

The connection between weight and fertility is an established one. Obesity affects hormonal levels and can cause excess estrogen, leading to irregular menstrual cycles. It’s also known to cause insulin resistance and lead to increased levels of testosterone that can make it difficult to support pregnancy. Additionally, obesity can increase the incidence of metabolic conditions, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), that can affect fertility. 

“Obesity can have a significant impact on fertility,” says Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RDN, LDN, Director of the MacDonald Center for Nutrition Education and Research at Villanova University. “Evidence shows that the risk of infertility has been shown to be threefold higher in women with obesity than in women without obesity. Overweight women and women with obesity need a longer time to conceive. The impact of obesity on reproductive function is highly attributable to dysregulation of hormone mechanisms such as lower production and circulation of hormones needed for optimal fertility potential.” 

It’s not uncommon, therefore, for weight loss to lead to increased fertility. Drugs such as Ozempic are associated with weight loss success. According to research, semaglutide has been linked to an average loss of 12.1% of body weight after six months of use. That doesn’t guarantee that anyone with obesity and fertility struggles who takes semaglutide will be able to conceive, but it does point to improved odds of success once a goal weight is achieved using semaglutide.[]

“While there is no guarantee that weight loss can assure fertility success, weight loss is a tool that may improve fertility outcomes by way of, for example, improvement of blood sugar, improvement in hormonal balance, and reduction of insulin resistance,” Shenkman says.

Ozempic and birth control

There are no data or studies that indicate that Ozempic affects birth control medications. However, some professionals have expressed concerns that Ozempic could affect how certain types of birth control are absorbed in the body, making them less effective. When combined with increased fertility, often observed after weight loss, this could explain why people taking birth control and Ozempic might experience a surprise pregnancy.[] 

It’s true that medications such as Ozempic might help make achieving a healthy weight a reality for people and that healthy weights are linked to increased fertility. However, using Ozempic as a fertility treatment isn’t currently recommended. Warning labels advise that these medications be stopped two months before someone plans to become pregnant.[] 

The wide-ranging health effects of weight loss

Weight loss is often discussed in terms of its health effects, such as reduced risk of heart health conditions and type 2 diabetes, but there are additional positive benefits that patients can experience when they achieve healthier weights. Improved fertility is one of many unexpected changes patients might experience. 

Shenkman says that while overall, the effects of weight loss can vary depending on an individual’s genetics, total health profile, and lifestyle, there are numerous benefits. For instance, she says, joint health can improve, and it’s common to see a reduction in joint pain. Additionally, since obesity is a risk factor for several types of cancer, achieving a healthy weight can help reduce this risk. Beyond these effects, Shenkman tells MDLinx that mental health and sleep quality are often linked to obesity and weight management.[] 

“Weight loss’s effects on mental health are sometimes overlooked, even though mental health and obesity are related in many and complex ways. For example, people with depression are more likely to experience obesity, and people with obesity are more likely to experience depression. Obesity has also been associated with an increased risk of anxiety disorders and eating disorders and low self-esteem.” Shenkman says. 

She goes on to explain that a lack of sleep can disrupt the hormones that affect appetite control and that obesity can affect sleep quality, creating a cycle that’s sometimes hard to break. 

“Obesity is also a common risk factor for the development of sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea and insomnia,” Shenkman says.

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