A growing number of women across the country are sharing their experiences of unexpected pregnancies while taking weight loss medications like Ozempic, Mounjaro, WeGovy, and Zepbound, despite being on birth control or having a history of fertility issues. These "Ozempic babies," as they have been dubbed online, have brought to light the potential impact of these drugs on fertility and the challenges women face when they discover they are pregnant while taking these medications.

According to fertility and bariatric experts, the weight loss induced by these drugs may help correct hormonal imbalances caused by obesity and metabolic disorders, thereby boosting fertility. Some of these medications may also reduce the efficacy of birth control pills, further increasing the chances of pregnancy. Dr. Rachel McConnell, a fertility expert at Columbia University Fertility Center in New York, confirmed that she is hearing about Ozempic pregnancies "all the time."

However, when women learn they are pregnant while taking these medications, they are faced with the difficult decision to quit cold turkey to protect their baby's health, as drug manufacturers recommend stopping at least two months before a planned pregnancy. Animal studies have found that the active ingredient in Ozempic, semaglutide, could cause miscarriage and birth defects if taken while pregnant.

"We encourage patients to be off the medication for at least two to three months before they even attempt conception, because it has a very long half-life of about five weeks," said Dr. McConnell.

Women who have stopped these medications abruptly due to pregnancy have reported experiencing intense symptoms, such as extreme hunger and rapid weight gain, which they say are unlike those of their previous pregnancies. Amanda Brierley, 42, who started taking semaglutide last year to treat her insulin resistance caused by polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), gained 65 pounds during her pregnancy after stopping the medication, compared to just 19 pounds during her previous pregnancy.

While it is unclear if pregnancy worsens weight loss medication withdrawal, experts suggest that hormonal changes associated with pregnancy could explain the fierce effects. Dr. Sahar Takkouche, a bariatrician and associate professor of medicine with the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, noted that quitting these drugs disrupts the systems in the body responsible for blood glucose and appetite control, and that pregnant women may experience these symptoms more intensely due to hormonal changes and blood sugar swings.

Rapid weight gain during pregnancy can introduce health risks to both mother and baby, such as gestational diabetes, which can lead to complications like high blood pressure, the need for a cesarean section, and an increased risk of the baby developing Type 2 diabetes later in life. Dr. Allison Rodgers, an OB-GYN and reproductive endocrinologist at Fertility Centers of Illinois, emphasized the importance of proper nutrition and monitoring weight gain during pregnancy, especially for women who have stopped taking weight loss medications.

For women taking drugs like Ozempic to treat diabetes, it is crucial to work with their doctors to keep their condition under control after quitting the medication. High blood sugar levels during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects, such as spinal cord, heart, and limb abnormalities.

As more women become pregnant while taking weight loss drugs, experts recommend they talk to their doctors right away and use "backup barriers," or extra contraceptives, while on these medications. Novo Nordisk, the maker of Ozempic and Wegovy, has created a pregnancy registry to collect health data from women who take these medications during pregnancy to better understand their safety.

While the fertility effects of GLP-1 drugs have not been extensively studied, the correlation between weight loss and fertility is well-known. However, experts caution that these medications should not be taken for fertility purposes alone and are meant for people who genuinely need to lose weight for health reasons.