Can Victoza (Liraglutide) Help People With PCOS Lose Weight?

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Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common condition in women of reproductive age and can cause infertility and metabolic problems. Approximately 50 to 70 percent of women with PCOS also experience insulin resistance, which is believed to be an underlying cause of the condition. At least half of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. While PCOS can make it difficult to lose weight, studies have shown that weight loss of 5 to 10 percent of body weight can improve both metabolic and reproductive aspects of PCOS. If you have PCOS and are finding it difficult to lose weight, medication may help.

Metformin, a diabetes medication, is a popular medication used among physicians to treat insulin resistance in PCOS, but it doesn’t result in significant weight loss. Research suggests that another diabetes medication, Victoza, can help those with PCOS lose weight and improve metabolic markers. Victoza, along with metformin and lifestyle changes, may be an effective approach for weight loss if you have PCOS and fail to lose weight despite dietary changes, insulin-lowering supplements, exercise, and metformin.

What Is Victoza?

Victoza (Liraglutide) is an injectable medication with a similar structure to glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1). GLP-1 is a gut hormone that enhances glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, inhibits glucagon secretion, delays gastric emptying, and reduces food intake and appetite. Victoza was approved in 2010 for people with type 2 diabetes, but it can help those with PCOS as well. 

Victoza has been shown to significantly lower HbA1c and body weight. Victoza also has a significant effect on weight loss and reduced risk of pre-diabetes in non-diabetic overweight individuals, so much so that the FDA's Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee voted in favor of Victoza to be approved for chronic weight management. Beneficial effects on blood pressure and cholesterol levels have been shown in individuals who take Victoza.

Victoza works by slowing down the release of food from your stomach. Having PCOS can impair your levels of appetite-regulating hormones. Taking Victoza can help you feel full sooner and experience less of an appetite. As a result, while taking Victoza, you would consume less food and therefore lose weight. 

What the Research Shows

In an observational study, women with PCOS who took Victoza and metformin for 7 months showed an average weight loss of 20 pounds. Eighty-two percent of women lost more than 5 percent and 33 percent lost more than 10 percent of their baseline weight. In addition to taking Victoza, the women in the study ate a low-glycemic diet with no caloric restriction, received guidance by a dietitian, and engaged in 45 min of moderate exercise at least three times each week.

A smaller study investigated the effect of Victoza and metformin in PCOS patients. It showed a significantly greater weight loss with the medications combined than with metformin alone.

What to Know About Taking Victoza

If you have PCOS and cannot lose weight despite following a healthy diet and lifestyle, adding Victoza to your regimen might help. If you are interested in trying Victoza, speak to your doctor. Victoza may cause gastrointestinal side effects upon starting the medication, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and abdominal discomfort. These symptoms usually go away after taking the drug for a longer period of time. In animal studies, Victoza was associated with thyroid tumors. It’s unknown whether Victoza causes thyroid tumors or cancer in humans. While it is a promising treatment option, more studies are needed to evaluate the long-term use of Victoza.

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