Ozempic Leads to Weight Loss — Can It Aid Fertility, Too?

Anecdotal evidence suggests the popular weight loss drug can boost fertility, but doctors warn against unknown side effects
A doctor listening to belly of pregnant woman

Ozempic and its GLP-1 ilk have been hailed as miracle drugs. Originally formulated to help lower blood sugar in patients managing diabetes, the drugs also have the unintended (but highly prized) side effect of causing weight loss in many patients. And substantial weight loss, at that — endocrinologists have observed a body weight reduction of 15%, on average, among patients taking semaglutide drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.

But according to many anecdotal accounts, semaglutide drugs like Ozempic may help with yet another common health struggle: infertility.

"I've been infertile for 14 years," writes Reddit user vitolini0707 on the Ozempic-specific forum r/Ozempic, "and after 2 months of taking [Ozempic] I am now pregnant." TikTok personalities like Anastasia Malhotra, Claire P. Simmons and Deb Oliviara also credit the drugs for their recent conceptions.

"I'm pretty sure Ozempic got me pregnant," Anastasia smilingly tells the camera in a short video.

But can semaglutide medications really increase fertility? And even if they can, is it safe?

Can Ozempic be used to treat infertility? (No, not safely)

At the time of this writing, Ozempic is not approved to treat infertility. In fact, the FDA's official medication guides for both Ozempic and Wegovy state that patients should stop use at least two months ahead of the time they plan to become pregnant.

That's because, in animal studies, semaglutide was shown to increase the chance of some birth defects. Human studies have yet to be conducted to see if the drugs could cause similar problems in human pregnancies. Indeed, in many of the studies that were done on semaglutide, pregnancy, or the intention to become pregnant, were used as exclusion criteria — which is to say, such patients weren't eligible for those trials.

Weight loss by any method can have hormonal effects, say endocrinologists, which may be one reason so many women are reporting surprise Ozempic pregnancies.

And while many soon-to-be parents are happy with the development, that kind of surprise might not always be so welcome, especially in a post-Roe v. Wade America. (Plus, over the five years between 2016 and 2021, the cost of raising a child jumped by almost 20%.)

In addition, patients seeking alleged fertility benefits, unsafe or no, might worsen the already-ongoing shortage of semaglutide treatments for patients who need them for on-label ailments.

Given that over 40% of Americans aged 20 or older are obese, as per pre-pandemic data — a figure that rockets to almost three-quarters of Americans if you include those deemed overweight per the body mass index (BMI) — it's no surprise that eager weight-loss patients have been clamoring for the drugs.

As a result, semaglutides have been in short supply, which has had negative repercussions for both weight-loss and diabetes patients. Insurers have also been ratcheting back their coverage of the treatments, which can cost upwards of $1,000 per month for the uninsured.

How to pay for health care — whether it's Ozempic or IVF

Although some health insurance companies have rolled back their coverage of GLP-1 medication for weight loss purposes — or never covered it in the first place — most insurers still cover it for diabetes treatment.

Unfortunately, under half of U.S. states require health insurance plans to cover fertility treatments, and even fewer guarantee IVF (in-vitro fertilization) coverage. IVF costs an average of more than $12,000 per cycle, and most women require multiple cycles in order to achieve a successful pregnancy. And while insurance can lower the price significantly, most couples still end up shelling out thousands of dollars in their quest to start or grow a family through IVF.

Carefully reading through health insurance policy documents before deciding on a plan could help you find the coverage you need at the lowest cost possible. Keep in mind that your plan may cover other types of weight-loss treatments, like bariatric surgery, even if they don't cover Ozempic.

Further, consider adding a Health Savings Account (HSA) to your financial toolbox. These triple-tax-incentivized plans can lower your out-of-pocket costs for all eligible health care expenses — and costs related to both Ozempic and IVF should qualify. If you have specific questions, check with your HSA provider — and your doctor.

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