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Do women experience more side effects with Ozempic?

1 min Read

Learn about the unique side effects, dosage considerations, and benefits of Ozempic for women. Get expert tips on maximizing the benefits of this medication and minimizing potential risks.

What you’ll learn:

  • Some studies suggest that women may experience greater weight loss benefits with Ozempic.
  • Certain side effects can be more pronounced or specific to women.
  • Ozempic might affect fertility and the effectiveness of birth control.

Many of us struggle with weight, so when a new option like Ozempic comes up, it’s worth paying attention. But what is Ozempic? It’s a medicine approved for diabetes that people are now prescribed off-label for weight loss. It belongs to a group of drugs called GLP-1 receptor agonists, which help control blood sugar and appetite, and make you feel full, leading to weight loss.

Because they work well, GLP-1 drugs like Ozempic are becoming popular for weight loss for both men and women. Although Ozempic helps manage weight in everyone, some research shows women might lose more weight with it than men and could experience stronger side effects. Women have also reported changes in their periods and increased fertility while taking Ozempic or similar drugs.

So, what does the research say? We’ll look at studies that explore how Ozempic affects men and women differently. We’ll also discuss what women who are considering pregnancy should think about before beginning a GLP-1. If you qualify for Noom Med, our clinicians will explore your health history, answer all your questions, and help find the right medication for you. 

Before we begin, we have one clarification note: When speaking about women in this article, we are referring to people who are biologically female, while recognizing and respecting the diversity of gender identities. 

Is there any evidence that women will lose more weight than men on Ozempic?

Studies of semaglutide, the active ingredient in Ozempic, have shown that women could potentially lose a bit more weight than men. In one study, women lost about 18% of their initial weight after 68 weeks on a 2.4 mg dose of semaglutide, while men lost 13%. The study did, however, include over 70% women, which could have impacted the results. It was also a study on people without diabetes, which suggests that weight loss can be less significant in people with diabetes.

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Keep in mind that everyone responds differently to the medication. It’s most effective paired with lifestyle changes. As always, partner with your healthcare provider to track your progress and ensure Ozempic is working optimally for you.

What are the common side effects of Ozempic and how are they different in women?

Ozempic can cause some side effects, with the most common being gastrointestinal issues (GI) like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. There is some evidence that these side effects impact women more frequently than men. 

  • In a Korean study, women using GLP-1 receptor agonists reported any side effects two times more than men did. Specifically, women reported vomiting five times more often, headaches nine times more often, and dizziness four times more often compared to men.
  • Another review concluded that while women tend to achieve greater weight loss with GLP-1s they also experience more adverse events, especially related to the digestive system.

Noom’s GLP-1 Companion can help you track and manage side effects. It will also provide tips for getting the most out of Ozempic. Plus, it contains strength workouts to help maintain and build muscle.

Want to learn more about what to expect? Get more information on the most common side effects of Ozempic.

FAQs about Ozempic’s impact on fertility, pregnancy, PCOS, and birth control

Aside from common side effects that everyone experiences, Ozempic might impact women of childbearing age differently. They could experience changes in their menstrual cycle and fertility, and also potential issues with birth control. Here are some answers to some common questions:

Can Ozempic affect fertility?

Although some reports suggest that Ozempic may affect fertility, there are no conclusive studies on this issue yet. But losing weight can help regulate your periods and improve your chances of getting pregnant. 

“By losing weight you’re likely to give your fertility a boost,” explains Dr. Linda Anegawa, a board-certified physician in obesity medicine and internal medicine. So, while GLP-1s don’t directly impact fertility, the weight loss they cause can be a game changer. “Becoming pregnant at a healthier weight also puts you at less risk for a variety of complications,” she adds. However, you should never seek to become pregnant while taking Ozempic or another GLP-1 medication.

Can Ozempic cause irregular periods?

Rapid weight loss has been shown to affect the menstrual cycle, with people experiencing irregular periods or missed periods. While these changes are usually temporary and resolve once the body adjusts to the medication, if they are concerning contact your doctor.

How does Ozempic affect PCOS?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and weight often go hand-in-hand. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that can impact fertility and make periods irregular. Studies show a majority of women with PCOS struggle with weight management. While the exact reason for this link isn’t clear and multiple factors are involved, it is tightly linked to insulin resistance. 

If you have PCOS and carry extra weight, your doctor might recommend GLP-1 medications like semaglutide. Recent research shows this medication significantly reduced weight in nearly 80% of patients with PCOS

“GLP-1s speed up weight loss. Losing weight will help you have more regular periods, increase your fertility, and diminish the PCOS symptoms that make it difficult to get pregnant in the first place,” says Dr. Anegawa. Read more about the effect Ozempic can have on PCOS.

So, can I take Ozempic if I’m trying to get pregnant?

Even though Ozempic could make you more fertile, you should plan to stop well before trying to conceive. Dr. Anegawa suggests stopping Ozempic or another GLP-1 medication for three to six months before trying … just to be on the safe side. The medication can stay in your system even after discontinuing its use. “What we don’t yet know is how weight loss meds affect a developing fetus – or a breastfeeding baby,” she cautions. 

Can I take Ozempic if I’m on birth control?

Studies remain inconclusive regarding any potential interactions between birth control and Ozempic, says Dr. Anegawa.  It’s possible that the slowed stomach emptying that helps GLP-1 medications work may also reduce the absorption of oral contraceptives into the system. But there needs to be more research before anything conclusive can be determined. 

In the meantime, she recommends switching to a non-oral method of birth control, like the ring or an intrauterine device (IUD), or using a backup barrier method like condoms while taking Ozempic. However, be sure to follow your healthcare provider’s advice about your specific birth control method.

Is it safe to take Ozempic if I’m pregnant? How about if I’m breastfeeding?

You should not take Ozempic if you are pregnant. If you find out you’re pregnant while taking Ozempic, let your doctor know right away so they can help you find the safest options. You should also avoid Ozempic while breastfeeding.

Maximizing the benefits of Ozempic with Noom

Ozempic and GLP-1s can be highly effective for weight loss. Whether you are a man or woman, however, it works best with healthy diet changes. Complement your Ozempic treatment with Noom’s holistic approach to weight loss. Our personalized programs combine expert guidance with behavior change techniques, helping you build a foundation for lasting health and well-being. 

Note: Ozempic is not FDA-approved to treat obesity or for weight loss.