Falling pregnant while losing weight

by Antonella Dési
Do weight-loss drugs improve your fertility? Does your chance of falling pregnant while losing weight increase?
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Do weight-loss drugs improve your fertility? Does your chance of falling pregnant while losing weight increase? Read on to find out about the implications, benefits, and potential risks of using these injectables during pregnancy as the trend for weight-loss babies increases. By Antonella Dési.

Recently, a new term has emerged in the parenting world: “Ozempic babies.” Named after the popular diabetes medication, Ozempic, these babies are part of a growing phenomenon linking pregnancy with the use of injectable medications. Originally intended for diabetes treatment, these medications are now being widely used for weight loss.

The increasing trend of using such medications during pregnancy has sparked discussions and raised questions about their safety and impact on both mothers and their unborn children, making it a topic of great interest and concern among healthcare professionals and parents alike.

What is Ozempic or semaglutide?

Initially approved for treating Type 2 diabetes under the name Ozempic, semaglutide is part of a class of injectable drugs frequently prescribed for weight loss. In South Africa, medications similar to Ozempic include Saxenda (liraglutide). Both are GLP-1 agonists used to treat obesity and Type 2 diabetes. While Ozempic is primarily prescribed for diabetes by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, Saxenda is approved for obesity treatment. Other GLP-1 agonists available globally, but not necessarily registered for obesity treatment in South Africa, include albiglutide, dulaglutide, exenatide, lixisenatide, and tirzepatide.

These medications work by mimicking gut hormones like glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), which play a crucial role in regulating insulin levels and appetite. Because of this, they have gained significant attention for their secondary benefit: weight loss. As obesity rates climb, many individuals have turned to semaglutide-type drugs as a solution for weight management.

Many users, including many celebrities, have reported spectacular results, leading to increased interest and usage of these medications. The effectiveness of these drugs in managing both diabetes and obesity has made them a significant topic of discussion in the medical community, highlighting their potential to address multiple health concerns simultaneously.

Also visit: Belly fat- 11 reasons you are not losing weight

The connection between semaglutide and pregnancy

The term “Ozempic babies” refers to infants born to mothers who were using semaglutide injectables for weight loss around the time of conception. While these medications can be a valuable tool for managing diabetes and obesity, its use during pregnancy raises several questions. Studies suggest that semaglutide might positively influence fertility indirectly through its effects on weight loss and blood sugar regulation. Weight loss, a common side effect of semaglutide-type drugs, can improve fertility by normalising menstrual cycles and enhancing ovulation in women. Other studies show that it has also been linked to improving sperm quality in men​.

However, the safety and efficacy of semaglutide use during pregnancy is not well-documented, leading to concerns about its impact on conception and foetal development. For women with diabetes, managing blood sugar levels during pregnancy is crucial for the health of both mother and baby. In these cases, semaglutide, which helps control blood sugar, might be considered beneficial.

The lack of comprehensive studies on its use during pregnancy means potential risks remain unknown. This uncertainty raises significant questions for healthcare providers and patients alike, emphasising the need for more research to ensure the safety of both mother and child.

Health concerns and considerations

The primary concern with the use of semaglutide-type drugs and pregnancy is the lack of extensive long-term research. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. Animal studies: According to the American Food and Drug Administration, a few animal studies have shown that semaglutide can cross the placenta, raising questions about its potentially dangerous effects on foetal development. The complications listed in the study include structural abnormalities, growth issues, increased rates of death and miscarriage, and lower-than-average birth weights. Although animal studies do not always translate directly to humans, it was noted that the results warrant caution​.
  2. Nutritional considerations: Also, there are studies that show that weight loss during pregnancy can be problematic, as it might deprive the baby of essential nutrients. Pregnant women need to ensure they are getting adequate nutrition for their baby’s development, which might be challenging if they continue using weight loss medications​ such as semaglutide for example.

Check out: How much weight is appropriate to gain in pregnancy

Guidance for expectant mothers

If you are using semaglutide-type injectables and considering pregnancy, or if you discover you are pregnant while on the medication, Lifewell MD suggests some steps that you can take:

  1. Consult your healthcare provider: Speak with your doctor and/or gynaecologist before making any changes to your medication regimen. They can provide personalised advice based on your health needs and the latest medical research.
  2. Consider alternatives: Your healthcare provider may suggest alternative diabetes or weight management strategies that are safer during pregnancy.
  3. Monitor your health: Regular prenatal check-ups are essential. Monitoring your blood sugar levels, weight, and overall health, will help ensure a healthy pregnancy.
  4. Focus on nutrition: Work with a nutritionist to develop a balanced diet plan that supports both your health and your baby’s development​.

The future of research

As the trend of “Ozempic babies” grows, so does the need for more research. Clinical studies focusing on the effects of semaglutide and similar medications on pregnancy outcomes are necessary to provide clearer guidelines for expectant mothers, and help healthcare providers make informed recommendations. While some preliminary findings suggest potential benefits for fertility, the use of semaglutide-type drugs during pregnancy remains largely unknown and unrecommended due to the lack of comprehensive studies.

For individuals considering or currently using these drugs and planning for pregnancy, consulting with healthcare providers is crucial to weigh the benefits and risks appropriately. This consultation ensures that the health of both the mother and the baby is prioritised, making informed decisions based on the most current medical advice. At this stage, what we know for certain is that further research is required before we can deem semaglutide-type drugs safe for mothers – a reminder that, when it comes to pregnancy, Mother Nature usually knows best.

Also read: The pros and cons of weight loss drugs

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