Known for its effectiveness in managing blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetes, Ozempic — the brand name for the drug semaglutide — presents a complex narrative, especially when it comes to pregnancy. While its benefits in controlling glucose are notable, its usage during pregnancy carries potential risks, such as low birth weight, potential birth defects, and miscarriage. Delving into the realm of Ozempic unveils the delicate balance between its therapeutic advantages and the cautious approach required for pregnant women or those planning pregnancy.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic, or semaglutide, is a pharmaceutical drug used to control high blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes. The company that makes the drug also markets semaglutide under the brand name Wegovy for weight management in certain patients.
Ozempic mimics a natural hormone in the body called GLP-1 (glucagon-like protein 1). It works by increasing the amount of insulin the pancreas releases after you eat. It also slows down the rate at which food leaves your stomach during meals, making you feel full. This is why semaglutide is also used for weight loss in adults with obesity or overweight.
What are the side effects of Ozempic?
Common side effects of Ozempic may include the following:
- Stomach pain
- Low blood sugar
- Kidney problems
- Weight loss
How does Ozempic affect fertility?
There is no current evidence that Ozempic impacts fertility. However, excess weight and elevated blood sugar levels may decrease a woman’s ability to get pregnant and may cause complications during pregnancy. Being overweight or obese is associated with a decreased ability to conceive, and increased body fat may disrupt hormone balance and prevent ovulation.
Obesity may also lead to pregnancy complications, such as premature labor, diabetes during pregnancy, and dangerously high blood pressure. Women with obesity are also less likely to see success following fertility methods like IVF (in vitro fertilization).
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), women with well-controlled blood sugar levels have a better chance of getting pregnant and are less likely to have pregnancy complications. Studies show that losing 5–10% of body weight in women with obesity may improve chances of fertilization.
Semaglutide is used to control blood sugar and promote weight loss. Although there is no evidence suggesting that semaglutide impacts fertility, Ozempic and other semaglutide drugs are not recommended after becoming pregnant. If you have diabetes or obesity, are taking semaglutide, and desire to become pregnant, talk with your physician about safe ways to control blood sugar levels or lose excess weight while trying to conceive.
When to stop using Ozempic before pregnancy
Novo Nordisk, the company that makes Ozempic, recommends that women stop using it two months before trying to conceive. The effects of Ozempic on an unborn baby are unknown, and this allows enough time for the medication to leave the body to prevent potential adverse outcomes.
Is it safe to use Ozempic during pregnancy?
It is not recommended to use Ozempic during pregnancy. While Ozempic has not been studied in pregnant humans, animal studies show unsafe use of Ozempic in pregnant animals. There is not enough scientific evidence to say that pregnant women can safely use Ozempic or that the same results would occur in human pregnancies with the medication.
Unsafe semaglutide use has been shown in pregnant rats, rabbits, and cynomolgus monkeys. In one animal study, pregnant rats were given semaglutide before and during pregnancy. The offspring of those rats showed decreased size as well as heart and bone defects.
In another study, pregnant rabbits were also given semaglutide before and during pregnancy. The rabbits experienced miscarriages and bone, kidney, and liver birth defects.
What to do if you become pregnant while taking Ozempic
If you are currently taking Ozempic for diabetes or weight loss and become pregnant, do not abruptly stop taking the drug. Reach out to your physician immediately and discuss the best way to stop the medication and find other options to control your blood sugar levels, if necessary.
Is it safe to use Ozempic while breastfeeding?
There are no current studies that show if semaglutide is transferred to breast milk, if it impacts the infant, or whether it affects breast milk production. In animal studies, semaglutide was present in the breast milk of breastfeeding rats; however, it is unclear what these results mean for breastfeeding women.
Ozempic is currently used to control blood sugar in type 2 diabetes and to lower heart attack and stroke risk in patients with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but it has not been studied in pregnant women. If you are currently using Ozempic, it's best to consult a medical provider to discuss further actions and the best options for you.
There is not enough scientific information available to determine if Ozempic can be safely used during pregnancy. It is not recommended that pregnant women or those trying to conceive use Ozempic.
According to the company that makes the drug, women trying to become pregnant should stop taking Ozempic two months before planning to conceive. This allows enough time for the body to eliminate the medication.
If you become pregnant while taking Ozempic, you should not stop taking the medication immediately. Instead, consult your healthcare provider for guidance on the appropriate steps to take.
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