Since he started taking semaglutide, and later tirzepatide, last fall, Elizabeth Wood went through the usual stages that patients can expect with these new weight-loss drugs.
He lost 125 pounds, his appetite was almost gone, and he stopped buying junk food.
A side effect he didn’t expect, however, was that he argued with his wife.
“We don’t have a lot of little arguments just because I’m in a better mood,” he told Business Insider.
Weight loss and relationships have always been subtly intertwined. When trying to stick to a calorie deficit or meal plan, having the support of those around you can make or break it. Some partners don’t like missing out on their food or drinking buddy and having indulgent date nights replaced by rewarding outings, so they may find themselves unintentionally sabotaging their efforts, or deliberately encouraging them to give up.
But with the advent of appetite-suppressing weight-loss drugs like semaglutide (sold as Wegovy but commonly referred to as Ozempic) and tirzepatide (Zepbound or Mounjaro), this tension has taken on a new dimension. People are navigating life with new priorities, and drastically smaller appetite and bodies, and their partners are brought along for the ride.
Losing weight, gaining confidence
Patients can lose more than 20% of their body weight with these life-changing drugs known as GPL-1 agonistsprescribed along with exercise and healthy diets, although as was the case with Wood giving up highly processed fast food isn’t difficult when you can’t stomach it anymore.
For the 26-year-old who lives in St. Louis, Missouri, the post-GLP-1 version of himself is more confident, with a better mood and a higher sex drive.
“Because I’m happier, everything around me is better,” said Wood, who has been with her husband Geoff for 12 years and been married for almost two.
Dr. Beverly Tchang, an assistant professor of clinical medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College who works with weight loss patients dealing with relationship challenges, told BI that she has seen many people on these drugs, whether single or in a relationship, gaining more confidence.
In fact, a 2022 study of 1,441 bariatric surgery patients found that singles who underwent weight loss treatment were more than twice as likely to marry within five years. Married couples who have had surgery are more than twice as likely to divorce.
The study’s lead author, Wendy King, a professor of epidemiology at Pitt Public Health, said relationships were a motivating factor for people who signed up to take part in her hope research. that the operation will boost their chances of finding a relationship or improving their existing one. one.
The GLP-1s seem to have done just that for Wood, who says her newfound confidence means she’s more willing to date her husband.
Ashley Dunham, another GLP-1 patient, was given the help she needed to go out with her boyfriends again. He lost about 105 pounds in 16 months on semaglutide after he started it in the summer of 2022.
“I’m not ashamed of how I look when we go out and take group pictures,” the 32-year-old, who lives in Jacksonville, Florida, told BI. “So I’m prioritizing time with my friends without our husbands and kids and doing things for myself that maybe I felt a little selfish to do.”
Dunham says she experiences “thin privilege” for the first time in years and with more self-esteem: “I don’t feel guilty about showing up and existing in spaces I don’t feel like I belong in.”
Weight loss medications can reduce the desire for food and sex
Not only do women’s different social priorities show how GLP-1s can affect patients in different ways, so do their conflicting sex drives. Wood didn’t notice a reduction in his libido with the drugs “at all,” similar to patients in a 2022 bariatric surgery study in which those who lost the most weight were more likely to feel an increase in sexual desire. But Dunham’s desire for sex and food is “almost constant.”
This echoes previous Insider reporting on how these drugs that work on the brain’s reward circuits can affect the desire not only for food and sex but for alcohol so much that they could one day be used as a treatment for addiction.
“You know you need it and you know you want it, but it’s just not there,” Dunham says of her desire for sex. “There are days when it feels like a mental chore instead of a physical and emotional chore.” With a small study in men with no weight issues seen alongside no difference in sexual desire after four weeks on GLP-1s, more research on this topic is needed.
“As much as I love my husband and we’ve been together for over a decade, it has nothing to do with him and everything to do with me,” she said.
Tempted to try tirzepatide
Either way, Dunham’s husband supports her taking semaglutide, not least because restaurants are now inviting the couple for free meals because she shared her GLP-1 journey on TikTok and became he’s an influencer. Plus, she likes her new look. If anything, he was more concerned about himself.
Both Dunham and Wood said their wives considered taking weight loss drugs themselves after seeing their husbands’ success.
“The most interesting part of our relationship now is that he’s just living off my leftovers,” Dunham said. “I always joke, I’ve lost weight, and you’ve gained a little more because you’ve been eating all the food I don’t eat anymore.”
“He was very tempted to try it,” Wood said. “He lost some weight just based on my diet, because I wasn’t cooking the same meals as before.”
Tchang says that when one half of a couple loses weight, it can prompt the other to question their own lifestyle.
“A spouse may be watching you lose weight and thinking, ‘What am I doing wrong? What is he doing right?’ And there may be complex dynamics developing there,” Tchang said. “We talk to our patients about all these issues, before we start the drug, but also during the drug, and we try to adjust with them, does it still feel like the right direction for you ?”
For some, the new spotlight on each other’s bodies can be uncomfortable.
Weight loss drugs as a lifelong commitment
Barry Tacktill, 51, and his wife, Debbie Schubert, both started taking Ozempic in February. While she stopped because of the side effects, which can include nausea, diarrhea, and constipation, Tacktill stuck with it and lost 41 pounds in July, the WSJ reported.
Doctors widely consider Weight loss drugs are a lifelong commitment, and the pounds usually come back once the patient reaches their goal weight and stops gaining it. For some, the unpleasant side effect or more $1,000-The one month price tag can be excessive. All of these can cause stress in a relationship.
Tacktill told the publication that Schubert made hurtful comments, telling her that she could gain weight and that she “still has a belly,” which led her to think that her husband might be upset with her. him. Schubert said he’s sorry his feelings were hurt and he’s happy he’s looking and feeling better.
As for Wood and Dunham, neither of whom have experienced long-term, unpleasant side effects from the drugs, they are learning how to navigate their new lives with GLP-1s that are likely a new constant, at least for the foreseeable future.
“It’s been fun to rediscover how many other activities there are out there that have nothing to do with food and everything to do with making memories,” Dunham said.
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