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Tips for navigating the most common side effects of Wegovy

Side effects generally diminish as your body adjusts to the medication.

Tips for Navigating the Most Common Side Effects of Wegovy | Juniper

If you're embarking on a weight loss journey, chances are you've been Googling for support on how to lose weight. Something you may have come across is weight loss medications.

Weight gain can be associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes or hypertension (high blood pressure). Losing weight is an incredibly challenging task, and we now know just how challenging it can be for people depending on their genetics and co-existing conditions like PCOS.

In some cases, with the right support and lifestyle changes, weight loss medications can help. Wegovy is one of these weight loss medications that is helping people lose weight and improve their health.

If you're thinking about trying Wegovy or are currently on Wegovy, you may be wondering about the most common side effects associated with this medication. Here's what you need to know.

What is Wegovy?

Wegovy is a prescription weight loss medication that comes in an injectable form and requires a once-a-week Wegovy injection to assist with weight loss.

Wegovy contains the active ingredient semaglutide (which is also found in Ozempic, for diabetes treatment) and this medication mimics the hormone that regulates appetite and hunger cravings. We've covered the differences between Wegovy and Ozempic in this handy guide here.

Wegovy is also part of Juniper’s Weight Reset Programme, which is designed by medical doctors and dietitians, with everything you need for long-term results. More than 15,000+ people globally have tried Juniper which includes lifestyle coaching, health tracking, tailored treatments and weight loss medications.

How does Wegovy work for weight loss?

The active ingredient in Wegovy is semaglutide, which is known as a glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists, or GLP-1. Wegovy mimics the GLP-1 hormone that is naturally released into our gastrointestinal tract when we consume nutrients.

When the GLP-1 hormone is released, it slows the emptying of the stomach, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer. It also targets the reward centre in the brain, helping to limit cravings between meals. Wegovy also helps to lower your 'set point' safely to help you continue to lose weight.

In 2021, after 3 clinical trials demonstrated that semaglutide far outpaced other medications and the placebo in weight reduction, the Food and Drug Administration approved Wegovy as a weight loss treatment [1].

After 16 months, patients treated with Wegovy experienced an average weight loss of 15-20% body weight.

What are the possible side effects of Wegovy?

Like any medication, there are side effects and potential drug interactions associated with Wegovy.

Among the most common side effects of wegovy treatment might be digestive (diarrhoea, gas, constipation, heartburn/acid reflux, stomach pain); or a general upset stomach, vomiting, severe nausea, fatigue, dizziness or headaches. Some people experience stomach flu symptoms like a sore throat or runny nose [2].

Some of the more rare yet serious side effects of Wegovy include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Change in vision, for people with type 2 diabetes
  • Kidney problems or kidney failure
  • Gallbladder disease, including gallstones
  • Severe pain such as stomach pain
  • Allergic reactions, possible severe allergic reaction
  • Depression or suicidal thoughts
  • Tumours, including thyroid cancer

There are also rare cases of serious side effects such as acute pancreatitis or retinopathy [3]. Semaglutide medications (both Ozempic and Wegovy) should not be prescribed to anyone with a history of medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC). Your complete history or any other medical conditions should be discussed initially with your doctor or pharmacist.

For patients with type 2 diabetes, taking Wegovy has an increased risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Signs of low blood sugar include blurred vision, fast heartbeat, and light-headedness. Consult with a licensed healthcare professional if you experience any of these symptoms. Diabetic retinopathy has been reported in clinical trials for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Wegovy treatment may not be right for you if you have a health history of problems with your pancreas, kidney problems, mental health issues or if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant.

How long does it take for side effects of Wegovy to subside?

The more mild side effects of Wegovy tend to be most noticeable right after an injection, lasting anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. But, as your body adjusts to the medication, these side effects tend to diminish.

Clinical trials from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found around 7% of people found the side effects severe enough to discontinue taking Wegovy [4]. If you're experiencing uncomfortable side effects, be sure to flag these with your healthcare provider.

Tips for managing Wegovy side effects

It's important to keep track of any symptoms you might be experiencing when taking Wegovy, from the mild symptoms to the more serious, in case you need to consult with your GP or healthcare professional.

For short-term and mild symptoms taking Wevogy, consider trying the following [5]:

  • Eat smaller meals
  • Eat bland and low-fat foods
  • Eat mindfully and stop when feeling full
  • Up your fibre and water intake
  • Sitting upright after meals can also help dispel some of the gastrointestinal side effects [6]

You may also need to change or lower the dose of Wegovy treatment to decrease or manage the side effects. That's why the Juniper Weight Reset Programme starts you on a low dose of Wegovy that is gradually increased after monitoring how your body responds to the injections.

It's also important to stick to a regular schedule and take your Wegovy injections on the same day each week. You should also rotate where you inject your Wegovy so it isn't on the same spot each time.

Common Wegovy questions about side effects

Here are answers to some of the most common questions about taking Wegovy.

Q: Is drinking alcohol allowed on Wegovy?

A: There aren't too many studies about the interaction of alcohol and Wegovy, although your healthcare provider is likely to suggest reducing or avoiding alcohol consumption when they prescribe Wegovy as it can add an increased risk of nausea, vomiting and dehydration.

Q: Can I take Wegovy with other medications?

A: It's worth discussing any medications or herbal supplements you are taking before you start on a Wegovy treatment, as semaglutide can interact with some medications resulting in low blood sugar.

Q: What are the signs of a serious allergic reaction to Wegovy?

A: If you experience a severe rash, swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat; a very rapid heartbeat or trouble breathing or swallowing, please seek immediate medical attention as this could be life-threatening.

Q. Does Wegovy cause thyroid cancer?

A: Wegovy medication has a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration as animal studies showed semaglutide (the active ingredient in Wegovy) has been shown to cause thyroid C-cell tumours in rats. This has not been demonstrated in humans but Wegovy is not recommended for people with a history of thyroid cancer.

Q. Can Wegovy impact your menstrual cycle?

Though more research is needed, Wegovy may impact how regular your periods are or cause them to be ligher or heavier than usual. If you notice significant changes to your menstrual cycle while on Wegovy, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider.

Q. Does Wegovy make you tired?

Fatigue is one of the potential side effects of Wegovy, so you may notice you feel more tired than usual, especially if you're on a higher dose. Again, speaking with your doctor is a good idea if your fatigue levels interfere with your day-to-day.

Weight loss is a journey

As with any weight loss medication or prescription medicines, it's important to discuss the risks and benefits (including your own personal or family history) with a medical professional such as a doctor or pharmacist.

Juniper's Weight Reset Programme takes a holistic look at your body, current body mass index, and lifestyle to help you make informed decisions about how to best kickstart the process of tackling your excess weight.

Our programme combines health coaching, 1:1 health tracking with a Juniper clinician and weight loss medication that helps to regulate your digestion and reduce your appetite to offer a holistic way to approach weight loss and improve your health.