Women using Ozempic and similar drugs are reporting unexpected pregnancies

Women using Ozempic and similar drugs are reporting unexpected pregnancies


Across social media, women who have used Ozempic or similar medications for diabetes or weight loss are reporting an unexpected side effect — surprise pregnancies.

The Facebook group “I got pregnant on Ozempic,” has more than 500 members. Numerous posts on Reddit and TikTok discuss unplanned pregnancies while on Ozempic and similar drugs which can spur significant weight loss by curbing appetite and slowing the digestive process. The drugs are known as “Glucagon-like peptide 1” or GLP-1 drugs.

The reports of an Ozempic baby boom are anecdotal, and it’s not known how widespread the phenomenon is. Experts say significant weight loss can affect fertility. Others speculate that the GLP-1 drugs could interfere with the absorption of oral contraceptives, causing birth control failures.

“I got pregnant on a GLP-1,” posted Deb Oliviara, 32, on her @Dkalsolive TikTok account, which has 36,000 followers. She had noted in another video that she’d previously suffered two miscarriages and a stillbirth.

Oliviara, who lives in Michigan, said in a direct message that she had been using Ozempic for three months before getting pregnant. “I was three weeks along when I found out,” Oliviara said. “I am now 3 months pregnant, and baby is doing amazing.”

“My little Mounjaro baby is almost 6 months old after trying for over 10 years with PCOS!” another woman commented on the post, referring to polycystic ovary syndrome, a hormonal health condition that is a leading cause of infertility.

Paige Burnham, 29, who lives in Louisville, had lost about 80 pounds while using Ozempic, also known as semaglutide, for Type 2 diabetes when she began feeling nauseous on a trip to Disney World. She assumed the symptom was due to the drug. “My most typical Ozempic side effect was nausea,” she said.

But she learned the symptom was actually morning sickness due to pregnancy — a surprise since she and her partner had tried for four years to conceive. She stopped taking Ozempic and gave birth to a healthy baby boy, Creed, in March 2023.

A lack of research on pregnancy and GLP-1 drugs

Little is known about the effects of Ozempic and similar drugs on women who want to get pregnant or who become pregnant while taking the drugs because they were specifically excluded from early clinical trials of the drug.

A spokesman for Novo Nordisk, which makes Ozempic and Wegovy, said the company is collecting data to evaluate the safety of becoming pregnant while using Wegovy, the version of semaglutide approved for weight loss.

“Pregnancy or intention to become pregnant were exclusion criteria in our trials with semaglutide in both obesity and type 2 diabetes,” the company said in a statement.

Eli Lilly, maker of the GLP-1 drugs Mounjaro and Zepbound, did not respond to requests for comment.

The biggest concern among women who become pregnant using a GLP-1 is whether the drug poses a risk to the fetus. While women like Burnham and Oliviara have posted reassuring stories of delivering healthy babies, doctors say it’s important to use backup birth control and stop the drug immediately if you become pregnant.

A Novo Nordisk spokesman said in a statement that there isn’t enough available data to know if the drug poses a risk for birth defects, miscarriage or other adverse events related to pregnancy. Based on animal reproduction studies for Wegovy, the company said there “may be potential risks to the fetus from exposure to semaglutide during pregnancy.”

The company recommends stopping Wegovy at least two months before a planned pregnancy.

According to Ozempic’s prescribing information, pregnant rats administered Ozempic showed fetal structural abnormalities, fetal growth problems and embryonic mortality. In rabbits and cynomolgus monkeys, there were early pregnancy losses or structural abnormalities as well as marked maternal body weight loss.

Controlling diabetes is important for a healthy pregnancy, and experts say patients taking Ozempic for diabetes should discuss the risks and benefits with their doctor.

Why drugs like Ozempic might affect pregnancy risk

While it’s unclear whether women taking a GLP-1 have a higher risk of unplanned pregnancies, doctors say there are a few explanations why some women are getting pregnant while using the drugs.

Weight loss can have an effect on ovulation and fertility, said Lora Shahine, a reproductive endocrinologist with a fertility practice in Seattle and Bellevue, Wash.

“I think that with weight loss and balancing of hormones and improved insulin resistance, the hormonal access clicks back in, and all of a sudden they start ovulating again — they might not have been ovulating for years,” said Shahine, who is also an associate clinical professor at the University of Washington.

Stephanie Fein, an internist in Los Angeles who specializes in helping women lose weight for their fertility, said that losing just 5 to 10 percent of body weight can help someone conceive. “No one knows exactly the reason,” she said. “Fat is hormonally active. We know it has effects on estrogen, and it will impact ovulation and possibly egg development.”

The drugs also may interfere with oral contraceptives in some patients, doctors say. The GLP-1 drugs help people lose weight by slowing gastric emptying, curbing hunger and leaving people feel full sooner. It may be that the GLP-1 drugs also affect the absorption of oral contraceptives, said William Dietz, physician and chair of the STOP Obesity Alliance at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University. “This may mean that birth control medications are metabolized or ineffective,” he said.

Dietz said most experts recommend discontinuing GLP-1 medications when pregnancy is detected. “I don’t think we know the impact of these drugs on fetal development,” he added.

Shahine recommends that women using oral contraceptives who are taking a GLP-1 drug use a second form of birth control. The drugs also aren’t recommended for mothers who are breastfeeding. Animal studies have shown semaglutide is present in the milk of lactating rats treated with the drug.

After Burnham stopped breastfeeding, she resumed taking Ozempic. Because of her past struggles with infertility, she doesn’t want to take birth control, although she said she is concerned about getting pregnant too soon. “I’m not ready yet,” she said.

Amy Klein is the author of “The Trying Game: Get Through Fertility Treatment and Get Pregnant without Losing Your Mind.”


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