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Semaglutide: A Versatile Medication

Semaglutide, a glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonist, has gained widespread recognition for its dual applications in managing type 2 diabetes and facilitating weight loss. Initially approved in 2017 for improving glycemic control in individuals with diabetes, semaglutide received an additional nod from the FDA in 2021 for promoting weight reduction in non-diabetic individuals.

This medication, marketed under brand names such as Ozempic and Wegovy, works by mimicking the actions of GLP-1, a hormone that regulates insulin secretion and appetite. While its effectiveness in these domains is well-documented, recent reports have sparked concerns about a potential side effect – erectile dysfunction (ED) in men.

The Emerging Concern: Semaglutide and Erectile Dysfunction

Although the package inserts for semaglutide mention sexual dysfunction as a possible side effect, the extent and frequency of this issue remain largely unexplored. However, a retrospective analysis presented at the 24th Annual Fall Scientific Meeting of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America (SMSNA) in San Diego, California, has shed light on this potential association.

Key Findings from the SMSNA Study

The study, conducted by Brian Liao and his colleagues at the University of Texas Medical Branch, aimed to assess the risk of ED and hypogonadism (low testosterone levels) in non-diabetic men following the prescription of semaglutide for weight loss. The researchers analyzed data from the TriNetX Research database, starting from June 1, 2021.

The cohort comprised 3,532 non-diabetic men prescribed semaglutide, compared to a control group of men who had never received the medication. After propensity score matching to account for factors like age, race, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), and comorbidities, the findings were noteworthy:

Non-diabetic men prescribed semaglutide were more likely to develop ED compared to the control group (0.4% vs. risk ratio [RR] of 4.1, 95% CI: 2.2-7.5).

The risk of developing hypogonadism was also higher in the semaglutide group (3.1% vs. 1.5% in the control group, RR: 2.0, 95% CI: 1.5-2.8).

Liao acknowledged that these findings were "in the opposite direction of the expectation, where we expected that weight loss would improve symptoms of erectile dysfunction."

Exploring the Potential Mechanisms

While the exact mechanisms behind this potential association remain unclear, several hypotheses have been proposed:

  • Hormonal Imbalances: GLP-1 receptor agonists like semaglutide may interfere with hormonal pathways, leading to imbalances in testosterone and other hormones crucial for sexual function.

  • Appetite Suppression: The appetite-suppressing effects of semaglutide could potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies, which may indirectly impact sexual health.

  • Weight Loss and Metabolic Changes: Rapid weight loss and metabolic shifts induced by semaglutide could temporarily disrupt hormonal balances, contributing to ED.

It's important to note that these hypotheses require further investigation and validation through rigorous scientific studies.

Contradictory Evidence: Weight Loss and Improved Sexual Function

Interestingly, some research has suggested that weight loss achieved through semaglutide or other interventions may actually improve sexual function in certain populations. A review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine in 2021 highlighted the potential benefits of weight loss on testosterone levels and erectile function in men with obesity or type 2 diabetes.

This contradictory evidence underscores the need for more comprehensive studies to unravel the complex interplay between semaglutide, weight loss, metabolic changes, and sexual health.

Weighing the Risks and Benefits

While the reported risk of ED associated with semaglutide appears low (1.5% in the SMSNA study), both clinicians and patients should be aware of this potential side effect when considering this medication. Open communication and careful monitoring are crucial to ensure timely intervention and appropriate management.

It's essential to weigh the potential risks against the well-established benefits of semaglutide in managing diabetes and promoting weight loss. Factors such as individual medical history, comorbidities, and treatment goals should guide the decision-making process.

Addressing Erectile Dysfunction: Potential Strategies

If ED persists or becomes a significant concern during semaglutide treatment, several strategies may be considered:

  • Medication Adjustment: In consultation with a healthcare provider, adjusting the dosage or exploring alternative medications may be warranted.

  • Treating Underlying Causes: Addressing underlying conditions like diabetes, obesity, or hormonal imbalances through lifestyle modifications or targeted therapies could help alleviate ED.

  • Pharmacological Interventions: Phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, such as sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra), may be prescribed to manage ED symptoms.

It's crucial to have open and honest discussions with healthcare providers about any sexual side effects experienced during semaglutide treatment. Early intervention and tailored management strategies can help mitigate the impact on quality of life.

Frequently Asked Questions

As the use of semaglutide continues to grow, it's natural for patients and healthcare professionals to have questions about its potential impact on sexual function and overall health. Here are some frequently asked questions and their corresponding answers:

  • Can Ozempic, Wegovy, or Mounjaro cause erectile dysfunction?

Clinical research suggests that some individuals may experience ED while taking semaglutide, marketed under brand names like Ozempic and Wegovy. Mounjaro, another medication containing the active ingredient tirzepatide, has similar reported side effects, primarily gastrointestinal in nature. However, more research is needed to determine whether tirzepatide could also contribute to ED.

  • Can other diabetes medications cause erectile dysfunction?

Yes, other medications used to manage diabetes, such as metformin, have been associated with an increased risk of ED. It's important to note that diabetes itself can also contribute to the development of ED, as the condition can impact blood flow and nerve function.

  • Can diabetic erectile dysfunction be reversed?

In some cases, ED caused by diabetes can be reversible, especially if the underlying condition is well-managed and lifestyle modifications are implemented. However, in other instances, the damage to blood vessels and nerves may be permanent, requiring ongoing treatment and management strategies.


The potential link between semaglutide and erectile dysfunction in men has garnered attention in the medical community, highlighting the need for further research and vigilance. While the reported risk appears low, open communication between patients and healthcare providers is crucial for timely intervention and management.

As with any medication, it's essential to weigh the potential risks against the well-established benefits of semaglutide in managing diabetes and promoting weight loss. Ongoing monitoring, lifestyle modifications, and appropriate treatment strategies can help mitigate the impact of any sexual side effects and improve overall quality of life.

By staying informed, maintaining open dialogues, and adopting a proactive approach, individuals can make informed decisions about their health and well-being while navigating the complexities of semaglutide treatment.


[1] Able, Corey et al. “Prescribing semaglutide for weight loss in non-diabetic, obese patients is associated with an increased risk of erectile dysfunction: a TriNetX database study.” International journal of impotence research, 10.1038/s41443-024-00895-6. 22 May. 2024, doi:10.1038/s41443-024-00895-6.

[2] https://www.healthline.com/health/semaglutide-side-effects-erectile-dysfunction.