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What happens when you stop taking Mounjaro?
Medically Reviewed by Felix Gussone, MD, Ro; Written by Anna Brooks
Last updated: May 22, 2023
6 min read
If you’ve never heard of Mounjaro, it’s a relatively new medication approved for controlling blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. Like Ozempic, Mounjaro is a weekly injection that helps lower glucose levels in those living with diabetes.
If you’re already taking Mounjaro, you might be concerned about what happens when you stop. Here’s what to know about the new diabetes drug – and what to expect if you stop taking it.
What is Mounjaro?
Mounjaro (generic name tirzepatide) is a prescription drug used to manage blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes. While not specifically approved for weight loss yet, tirzepatide can help people lose weight effectively. That’s why healthcare providers can prescribe Mounjaro off-label for weight loss if they believe it is an appropriate course of treatment. When it comes to shedding pounds, Mounjaro is most effective when coupled with exercise and a low-calorie diet.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Mounjaro in May 2022. Mounjaro is considered a first-in-class drug because it activates glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptors, hormones responsible for controlling blood sugar and regulating appetite.
Mounjaro works by improving insulin sensitivity and secretion from the pancreas, which allows the body to use blood sugar more effectively. Because Mounjaro also slows down the digestion process, it makes you feel full longer and decreases food intake resulting in the added benefit of weight loss in some people.
It’s different from other injectable diabetes treatments like Ozempic (a GLP-1 receptor agonist) because it acts on two receptors. This is why it’s referred to as a dual agonist or combination drug. Mounjaro is given as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection once weekly. Dosages start at 2.5 mg and are slowly increased as needed to a maximum dosage of 15 mg.
Potential side effects of Mounjaro include:
Nausea and vomiting
Early research shows Mounjaro to be more effective for weight loss than other diabetes treatments including Trulicity (dulaglutide) and Ozempic (semaglutide). One study showed that on the highest dose of Mounjaro, over half of the patients in the trial lost more than 20% of their body weight in 1 year, Mounjaro was combined with a reduced-calorie diet and increased physical activity.
Currently, there is no cure for diabetes, which can have severe consequences if left untreated including heart disease, kidney failure, vision problems, and more. Research suggests that obesity is a factor in developing type 2 diabetes.
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4 things that can happen when you stop taking Mounjaro
Because Mounjaro is so new, there’s not a lot of research yet on what happens if you stop taking it. It can take four weeks or more to see the health benefits of Mounjaro, so it’s advisable to stick with it before quitting.
If you experience a severe reaction to the drug, stop taking it immediately. As with any prescription drug, speak to a healthcare provider before halting use on your own. Based on the science so far and compared to similar drugs like Ozempic, here are possible things to prepare yourself for when stopping Mounjaro.
1. Increased appetite
Part of the reason Mounjaro works for weight loss is because it reduces appetite. The drug achieves this by slowing down the speed food travels through your digestive system, which makes you feel full for longer.
Therefore, when you stop Mounjaro, your appetite will likely return. Knowing this beforehand is helpful so you can take steps to mitigate sudden urges. Keeping healthy snacks on hand or allowing yourself smaller, more frequent meals can help keep you satiated without regaining weight.
2. Weight gain
Mounjaro is FDA-approved for controlling blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes, but it’s also been shown to be effective for weight loss. Unfortunately, it can be a lot easier to put weight back on than lose it in the first place.
Stopping Mounjaro means there’s a risk for you to regain back the pounds you lost on it. This is why it’s crucial to couple diabetes treatments with healthy habits like a low-calorie, nutrient-rich diet and regular exercise. Even if you notice weight gain when stopping Mounjaro, you can help counter it by sticking to your original weight loss plan.
3. Blood sugar spikes
Mounjaro acts on GIP and GLP-1 receptors, which helps your body manage glucose more efficiently. Since it works to lower blood sugar, stopping Mounjaro carries the risk of glucose levels spiking back to their original levels.
Mounjaro also reduces appetite. That means going off the drug may stimulate your appetite and cause you to eat more or indulge in foods you usually steer clear of, resulting in potential blood sugar spikes.
4. No more side effects
Pretty much all prescription medications come with a risk for side effects. Common ones you may experience taking Mounjaro include indigestion, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
Not everyone will have adverse reactions to the medication. If you do experience any unpleasant side effects on Mounjaro, of course one bonus of stopping the medication is those will disappear. Depending on the dosage in your system, it may take a few weeks for side effects to subside.
Keeping weight off after Mounjaro
As is the case with stopping any weight loss medication, a proper diet and exercise routine are critical to maintaining weight loss. Even on Mounjaro, it’s most effective in tandem with these two things.
If you’re struggling to keep weight off, a nutritionist or dietitian can work with you to curate a meal plan and help motivate you to stick to it. The same thing goes for a personal trainer or fitness coach if it’s within your budget. You can also link up with a gym buddy or lean on your social circle who can support and encourage you with your weight loss goals.
Small tips like drinking water when you feel hungry (hunger pangs can be an indicator of dehydration) and eating smaller, more frequent meals are other actionable weight loss tips.
Depending on why you stopped taking Mounjaro, another option is trying a different weight-loss drug. Not all have the same side effects and you may succeed with alternatives like Ozempic, Wegovy, Victoza, and more.
Do the side effects of Mounjaro go away after stopping?
Unlike certain oral medications, there’s no way to taper off injectable drugs like Mounjaro. Your body will naturally filter out the drug over time. As mentioned earlier, stopping Mounjaro means any side effects you experienced will also cease.
How long it takes for side effects to disappear depends on the dosage. For example, if you’re on the maximum dosage of 15 mg, it could take weeks for side effects to taper off. If you’re only on a starting dosage of 2.5 mg, side effects could disappear in a matter of days.
Each person responds to medication differently, so your unique biology also factors into how fast your body eliminates Mounjaro from your system after stopping. If you experienced moderate to severe reactions on Mounjaro, it may take longer for you to feel back to normal compared to people with mild side effects.
When should you stop Mounjaro?
Stopping Mounjaro without speaking to a healthcare professional first is not recommended. However, there are some cases where stopping immediately is warranted. According to the manufacturer, stop taking Mounjaro if you experience extreme stomach pain (with that pain radiating to your back), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), or kidney problems.
Taking Mounjaro also poses a risk for an allergic reaction. If you develop a severe rash, difficulty breathing, rapid heartbeat, or swelling in the face, tongue or throat, stop taking Mounjaro and seek medical attention immediately.
Avoid taking Mounjaro altogether if you have a personal or family history of thyroid cancer or a thyroid-related condition like multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2. If you have kidney disease, gallbladder problems, or pancreatitis, Mounjaro may not be right for you.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Felix Gussone, MD
Felix Gussone is a physician, health journalist and a Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.
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