1. Home
  2. Science
  3. Health
  4. news
  5. A woman with PCOS took semaglutide. She lost 70 pounds and her periods came back.

A woman with PCOS took semaglutide. She lost 70 pounds and her periods came back.

Rachel Hosie   

A woman with PCOS took semaglutide. She lost 70 pounds and her periods came back.
  • Ashley Dunham was considering bariatric surgery when she learned about semaglutide.
  • Dunham struggled with her weight and irregular periods due to polycystic ovary syndrome.

A woman with polycystic ovary syndrome — a condition that can affect a person's menstruation and weight — saw her periods return after taking the weight-loss drug semaglutide.

Ashley Dunham decided she wanted bariatric surgery last June when she "hit rock bottom" and felt she could no longer control her weight.

Although she used to eat healthily during the day, she was always starving come the evening so ended up late-night snacking, which caused a lot of distress, the 32-year-old from St. John's, Florida, who works in digital marketing, told Insider.

"The weight just kept piling on," she said.

While waiting for an appointment with a bariatric surgeon, she learned about the buzzy weight loss drug semaglutide and decided to try it.

"It was a last-ditch effort before I went drastically headfirst into getting surgery to finally lose weight," Dunham said.

Dunham never did see the bariatric surgeon. After she started taking compounded semaglutide (which doctors say can be risky) costing $299 a month in August last year, she lost 70 pounds in 5.5 months.

"I would recommend it to everybody," she said.

Dunham is among people who have struggled with their weight to turn to semaglutide, which was originally developed for diabetes and sold as Ozempic, but was approved for weight loss by the FDA in 2021 under the name Wegovy.

The drug was quickly branded a "game-changer" for weight loss, and has become so popular that there have been shortages. It works by suppressing appetite and is taken as a weekly injection, with the dose gradually increasing over weeks.

Confusingly, Ozempic has become the byword for semaglutide products, regardless of whether a person is taking them for weight loss or diabetes.

Dunham has PCOS and her periods returned on semaglutide

When Dunham started taking the drug she gradually started noticing changes over the first couple of months.

Mild nausea was the main side effect Dunham experienced — with a side of migraines — but those went away after six months. The constipation, however, hasn't abated, she said.

Another change was her periods returning. Dunham had irregular menstrual cycles because of her PCOS and had been on and off the contraceptive pill for years to regulate her cycle, she said.

Dunham gained more than 65 pounds over nine months in 2016, going from "thin" to "morbidly obese," which made it hard to process her place in public spaces, she said. The hormonal changes that follow after coming off the contraceptive pill can cause both weight gain and loss, depending on the person, and Dunham believes this is what happened to her.

After restarting birth control for a third time, Dunham came off it again around the time she started semaglutide because her estrogen levels were too high.

Since losing weight on semaglutide, she has regained regular periods for the first time in a year and a half, which she believes is down to the drug. Carrying excess weight can affect your menstrual cycle and there is some research to suggest that semaglutide could help women with PCOS manage symptoms, but further research is needed.

More than half of women with PCOS develop type 2 diabetes by the age of 40, according to the CDC, so Dunham thinks more people need to talk about how semaglutide may be able to help women with the condition.

Professor Adam Balen, consultant gynecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, UK, told Insider that it's possible that semaglutide can help manage the PCOS symptoms by improving sensitivity to insulin and helping with weight loss.

However, he said that semaglutide is not licensed for the treatment of PCOS. "A clinician may consider prescribing this medicine 'off-label' if they think it would benefit a patient with PCOS, but this would need a careful discussion with them about the benefits and potential risks," Balen said.

Dunham's life no longer revolves around her next meal

Dunham also noticed changes to her appetite and relationship with food.

Dunham can only eat about a third or half the amount she used to before feeling full, she said. Having always finished her plate before, it's a "completely new" concept for Dunham. Once you reach that full point, the idea of keeping eating is "disgusting," she said.

"I no longer revolve my life around when my next meal is," Dunham said. "I can make conscious decisions as to what I'm going to eat with intent."

The "food noise," she said, has gone.

Throughout her weight loss journey, Dunham has tried to listen to her body, eating what she wants when she feels hungry, she said. However, she has made an effort to eat enough protein to help with muscle maintenance and overall health.

"I do enjoy food but now my relationship with it is different," Dunham said. "Now I can enjoy food without the repercussions."

For instance she's no longer afraid to order dessert, she said, but sometimes she orders it to go and might not eat it until the next day.

However, Dunham has found herself "hyper-fixating" on foods, meaning that if she feels she wants, say, McDonald's French fries, she's not satisfied and doesn't want to eat anything else until she's got them, she said.

Dunham is starting to feel like her old self again

In her first couple of months on semaglutide, Dunham noticed she felt less lethargic and puffy.

Semaglutide has helped Dunham feel like her old self again, she said. She's enjoying going shopping, taking pictures, and eating food without "severe anxiety," she said.

Dunham plans to transition to a maintenance dose once she's lost all the weight she wants to.

The $299 a month price tag is affordable for Dunham for now, but she hopes the insurance industry might change or something more affordable might come along in the long term, she said.

Do you have a powerful story to share with Insider? Please send details to

Popular Right Now