Sex, Alcohol, and GLP-1 Clickbait

Elvis Presley Jailhouse RockClickbait is a new spin on an old thing. Sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll used to be the formula for drawing eyes to advertising. Now the hottest clickbait is sex, alcohol, and GLP-1 drugs. People magazine tells us this month that GLP-1 agonists “may impact the desire to drink alcohol or have sex.” Oh my. Must click.

This month, as one twitterer tells it, the story is that nobody is having sex,,,because of Ozempic. Last month, “everyone is getting pregnant… because of Ozempic.”

Surely this is the high water mark for Ozempic absurdity.

Any Science?

One of our favorite voices of reason, Dr. Beverly Tchang, responded with a plea for fact checking, so we obliged.

First, it is no surprise that weight loss improves fertility. For people having trouble with conceiving a baby, due to issues of weight and health, bariatric surgery can be quite helpful. But when it comes to GLP-1 medicines, Professor Tricia Tran offers an important caution:

“Women need to know that these drugs should not be used during pregnancy. You can also see that most of the clinical trials have not included women who are intending to become pregnant. Animal studies did show that the animal babies born to animals who were given these medications had problems.

“In my practice where we see many women with obesity and infertility, we do not prescribe these GLP-1 agents unless they are on contraception. This does sometimes cause delays in management and disappointment.”

Second, it is clear that GLP-1 medicines can affect pathways in the brain that regulate desire. This is evident in research data suggesting an effect on desire for alcohol. There is even some very sparse data regarding an effect on sexual desire and behavior in animals.

So yes, this clickbait about sex, alcohol, and GLP-1 has a tiny grain of truth buried in a whole lotta flash.

For a deep dive into the CNS effects of GLP-1 agonists on reward and desire pathways, click here.

Elvis Presley Jailhouse Rock, publicity photograph from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Wikimedia Commons

Subscribe by email to follow the accumulating evidence and observations that shape our view of health, obesity, and policy.


April 24, 2024