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Ozempic (Semaglutide) and ED: What You Need to Know

8 min read
Ozempic (Semaglutide) and ED: What You Need to Know

If you're taking Ozempic or other similar semaglutide drugs, you may be aware that a number of online sources are connecting these drugs with erectile dysfunction (ED). While some reports indicate the drugs may cause ED, other sources suggest improved erectile function.

According to research published in May 2024, around one in eight US adults say they have taken a GLP-1 Receptor Agonist drug - the medical term used to describe diabetes and weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Wegovy, Mounjaro, and Zepbound.

Since these drugs are becoming so popular for people fighting weight gain and the symptoms of diabetes, we felt it was important to explore the claims that relate to men's sexual health - so you can get a clear picture of what the science says to better inform your discussions with your healthcare provider.

Can Semaglutide cause erectile dysfunction?

According to initial studies into the area, Semaglutide drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy can increase the risks of both erectile dysfunction and testosterone deficiency in men.

However, it's important to note that the increase in risk is small - just 1.47% in this first study and just over 1.8% compared to a control group in a study carried out by the University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine.

Since obesity potentially has many more significant negative effects on testosterone levels and erectile function, a medical professional should be able to help you weigh these risks against the sexual health and wider health implications of being overweight or obese.

Does semaglutide increase the risk of ED?

The short answer here is "possibly". While that might not inspire much confidence - it's simply because the medical world is either unsure whether there are links between semaglutide and ED or cannot agree on what those links are.

As stated, initial reading of studies into the links between Ozempic, Wegovy, and other semaglutide drugs with erectile dysfunction suggest there is an increased risk for men.

However, when looking at medical studies, it's always important to look for further research that confirms or challenges these findings. Given how new semaglutide drugs are (especially for people who are using them to lose weight), this additional research is limited. However, a broader 2021 study explored semaglutide and other GLP-1 receptor agonists (glucose-lowering drugs) found they could contribute to ED. The reason is related to their effects on vascular smooth muscle and blood flow - both of which need to be operating effectively to help achieve an erection.

Despite these findings, the FDA-required and regulated statutory leaflets that come packaged with Ozempic and Wegovy do not list erectile dysfunction or similar conditions as a recognized side-effect.

The takeaway message from this is two-fold.

Firstly, while the FDA says that these semaglutide medications do not warrant a warning about ED, some medical research suggests they could contribute to ED.

Secondly - and because of this uncertainty - if you experience ED when taking Ozempic or similar drugs, you should talk to your physician as soon as possible so they can investigate the issue further.

How long does semaglutide-induced ED last?

If you experience semaglutide-induced erectile dysfunction or any reduction in sex drive, the effects are likely to vary based on the dose of the drug you take and the time you've been taking it, as well as any underlying health issues (such as diabetes, cardiovascular issues, high cholesterol, and pulmonary hypertension) you may have.

While any increase in the symptoms of ED can be alarming, you may find that as the semaglutide has its intended effect (either weight loss or restoring blood sugar balance), the symptoms of the ED begin to subside.

This effect can typically take between a few weeks to a few months.

If you are worried about ED or the effect continues, you should talk to the doctor who has prescribed semaglutide - who might then consider adjusting your dosage or discussing alternative treatments.

Are there any treatments for semaglutide-induced ED?

Since the medical community does not agree on whether semaglutide-induced ED is a definite side-effect of drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy, there's no go-to treatment available should erectile dysfunction occur. Instead, a doctor may recommend one or more of the following steps:

Diagram of the Treatment Options for Sudden ED
  • Medication adjustment: Your healthcare provider may consider adjusting the dosage of semaglutide or switching to a different medication if the ED is significantly affecting your life.

  • ED medications: Oral medications such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) may be prescribed to help manage erectile dysfunction. These medications work by increasing blood flow to your penis, aiding in achieving and maintaining an erection.

  • Lifestyle adjustments: Your doctor may help you look at different factors that could be contributing to your ED. They may suggest tips around diet and exercise, reducing alcohol and smoking, or even stress management - each of which has a significant proven effect on ED.

  • Mental health support: Since stress, anxiety, and depression are often factors that can contribute to ED, your doctor may suggest talking to a counselor or mental health professional.


Your healthcare providers will likely also want to meet with you more regularly to check on your progress and monitor the symptoms you're experiencing.

What are other side effects of semaglutide?

According to the FDA, the most common side effects of semaglutide medications like Wegovy and Ozempic are:

  • nausea
  • stomach (abdomen) pain
  • dizziness
  • stomach flu
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • feeling bloated
  • heartburn
  • vomiting
  • tiredness (fatigue)
  • belching
  • runny nose or sore throat
  • constipation
  • upset stomach
  • gas


While these are the most common issues reported by semaglutide users, most are minor. As such, the recommendation on the enclosed information is that you "Talk to your healthcare provider about any side effect that bothers you or doesn't go away."

However, there are some less-common but more serious side effects that should be reported to your healthcare provider urgently, including:

SIDE EFFECTS NOTES
Hypoglycemia Semaglutide can lower blood sugar levels, which may then lead to hypoglycemia. Monitor your blood sugar regularly and consult your healthcare provider if you experience dizziness or shakiness.
Kidney injury While rare, semaglutide can cause kidney injury, especially if you become dehydrated. If you notice changes in urination or swelling, seek medical advice promptly.
Pancreatitis In rare cases, semaglutide might cause pancreatitis Severe abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting are symptoms that require immediate medical attention.
Gallbladder problems Semaglutide use has been linked to gallbladder problems, including gallstones. If you experience severe abdominal pain or jaundice (yellowing of the skin and/or eyes), consult your healthcare provider.
Increased heart rate Some studies show that patients experience an increased heart rate with semaglutide. If you notice a persistent change in your heart rate or feel palpitations, seek medical advice.
Depression or thoughts of suicide Though rare, limited studies have found that some semaglutide users may experience depression or suicidal thoughts. It's crucial to discuss any mental health changes with your doctor immediately.

Can Ozempic and similar drugs improve male sexual health?

So far, this exploration of GLP-1 antagonist drugs has delved into the claims that they can cause sexual dysfunction in men - but what does science say about possible positive effects Ozempic, Wegovy, and similar drugs can have?

Let's take a look at the two main issues that semaglutide drugs are being prescribed to help with:

Obesity

Being obese or overweight is proven to result in an increased risk of hypertension, inflammation, atherosclerosis, reduced testosterone levels, and a number of mental health concerns - all of which can impact sexual function - therefore clearly linking obesity to ED.



The current longest study carried out on patients using Wegovy shows that 68% of people have lost at least 5% of their body weight, 23% of people have lost at least 15% of their body weight, and 5% of people have lost more than 25% of their body weight.

Since studies have proven that a modest weight loss of 5% can result in rapid reversal of sexual problems for obese men, the fact that Wegovy offers this or more for the majority of users could, therefore, mean that men using this drug will enjoy similar benefits.

It's important to note that there are no current sizeable studies exploring the link between Wegovy (and similar other medications) and ED.

However, the fact that ED is directly linked to hypertension, inflammation, and atherosclerosis - and Wegovy is proven to result in better outcomes in all these areas, it stands to reason that semaglutide users could experience positive 'secondary outcome' effects on ED owing to reduction of symptoms that improve circulatory health.

Diabetes

Diabetes also has strong and proven links to erectile dysfunction . When blood sugar levels are high, blood vessels throughout the body can be damaged - including those that supply the penis. What's more, diabetes also often leads to other conditions that contribute to ED - such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

Studies also show that diabetes can also affect testosterone levels. According to the American Diabetes Association, a man with type 2 diabetes is twice as likely to suffer from low testosterone as a man without diabetes - and low testosterone levels can both impact the ability to get an erection and damage sexual desire (libido) levels.

With Ozempic and other semaglutide drugs found to significantly improve both weight and blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes, it again stands to reason that, while these drugs won't repair the damage caused by diabetes, a reduction in ED-causing diabetes symptoms could lead to better penile function for men who have both diabetes and ED.

Semaglutide and ED: When to see a doctor

If you're taking a semaglutide drug - either for weight loss or for diabetes - and you experience erectile dysfunction, it's important that you talk to your doctor.

While it might feel a little uncomfortable talking to a doctor about your penis or sexual dysfunction, it's useful to try to remember that this is just another day at the office for a physician. People are also sometimes unsure about going to the doctor in case they need to be examined - but unless the doctor has another reason to do so, this is usually quite rare with male sexual dysfunction issues.

When talking to a healthcare professional, it's useful to give them as much information about your condition as possible.

Assuming the doctor already has your medical notes, it can be useful if you take:

  • A full list of medications currently being taken, including over-the-counter drugs, supplements, and herbal remedies.

  • A timeline of when the ED symptoms began, how they have progressed, and any patterns noticed in relation to taking Ozempic.

  • Information about any other side effects experienced while taking Ozempic, even if they seem unrelated to ED.

  • Details about lifestyle factors that may contribute to ED, such as diet, exercise habits, alcohol consumption, smoking, and stress levels.

  • This information will mean your physician will be able to consider the full picture surrounding your ED - and, therefore, more quickly come to a decision about what the best next step is for you.

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Summary: Ozempic (Semaglutide) and ED

Although there hasn't been extensive research carried out into possible links to erectile dysfunction, some initial studies suggest Ozempic, Wegovy, and other semaglutide drugs can increase the chances of ED.

On the other hand, there is an overwhelming body of evidence to link both obesity and diabetes with ED - with very positive indications that just slow and steady improvements in both conditions result in better sexual function for men. As such, Ozempic and similar drugs can be an attractive prospect for men who want better manage their weight and diabetes, with a view to better sexual function.

If you do experience erectile dysfunction when using semaglutide drugs, it's important to discuss the issues with your doctor.

What's more, since the links between semaglutide and ED are not well known, it's unlikely your doctor will simply stop your treatment. Instead, they will likely talk to you about other ways of managing your ED, perhaps with some lifestyle adjustments, stress reduction techniques, or possibly ED medications.

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