Does Ozempic make birth control pills less effective?

Some doctors are exploring the rash of pregnancies among women taking Ozempic - UnSplash+

An expert weighs in on why there are so many 'Ozempic babies'

Ozempic has helped countless consumers across the country lose weight and keep it off. However, women taking the drug are now bonding over a similar experience, which they’re calling “Ozempic babies.” 

Women taking Ozempic have found themselves getting pregnant despite also taking prescription birth control with the weight loss drug, or having histories of fertility issues. 

To dive deeper into this topic, Dr. Sharon Giese, creator of the Elective Weight Loss Program, shared insights with ConsumerAffairs, including why women are getting pregnant while taking Ozempic, how women can keep themselves and their babies safe, and more. 

How does Ozempic work to achieve weight loss? 

For starters, Dr. Giese broke down the essentials of how Ozempic (semaglutide) works to help all people lose weight. 

“Semaglutide is a naturally occurring peptide that slows stomach emptying,” she said. “This makes people feel full faster and for a longer period of time. The person feels satiated, they do not feel hungry, and that feeds back to the brain, really diminishing the desire for food. People are not constantly thinking about food or their next meal. Generally the process of 'dieting' is less painful, because people truly don't feel as deprived.  

“It also helps to even out blood sugar, so cravings are also diminished,” she continued. “Since the process is real weight loss, not rapid weight loss, I find my patients are modifying their habits and learning what volume of food they really need, as opposed to want.” 

How are women getting pregnant on Ozempic? 

When it comes to getting pregnant while taking Ozempic, Giese says that prescription birth control isn’t always 100% reliable for contraception, as women have to be diligent about taking it every day. There are also questions about how the body absorbs birth control pills while also taking drugs like Ozempic. 

“Theoretically, because stomach emptying is slowed, the absorption has been questioned,” Giese said. “With semaglutide, this is not reported to be an issue by the company. However, with tirzepatide (Monjauro), the company reported a decrease in effectiveness in the first month, up to 60%.” 

For women who want to put off having kids while also trying to lose weight, Dr. Giese recommends doubling up on birth control. 

“I recommend patients use another method of birth control during the first month of use, such as a barrier method,” she said. “I think the real reason more women are getting pregnant on semaglutide is that they have lost weight and are feeling better about themselves, which makes them feel sexier and more social!” 

Staying safe and healthy during pregnancy

For women who get pregnant while taking Ozempic, staying healthy is the most important goal. Giese encourages women to focus on nutrition, as this will ensure the best health outcomes for themselves and their babies.  

“Ideally, a woman does not start her pregnancy overweight or obese, because weight gain with pregnancy is nearly unavoidable,” Giese said. “A healthy weight is good for the mom and the baby.  I have a number of young patients who have utilized semaglutide to lose weight prior to getting pregnant and another group that is using it after breast-feeding to lose the rest of the baby weight. 

“While pregnant, optimum nutrition will help to grow a big, healthy baby. This involves a lot of custom math information – fat, carbohydrates, protein, and calories all have to be calculated. I suggest going to a nutritionist to get a custom recommendation.” 

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