Wegovy® side effects
Reviewed by our clinical team
Wegovy® is a new weight loss injection, which is due to launch in the UK in 2023. It can be used by people with high BMIs (body mass index) – a measurement used to work out if you’re a healthy weight for your height.
Like with all medications, there’s a chance you might experience side effects when taking Wegovy®. So, in this article we’re going to look at the potential Wegovy® side effects, how long they might last and what you can do to manage them.
What is Wegovy®?
Wegovy® is a weight loss medication which is taken as a weekly, self-administered injection. It contains the active ingredient semaglutide which works by suppressing your appetite, making you feel fuller for longer and reducing cravings.
Around 85% of people taking Wegovy® will lose more than 5% of their body weight, with the average weight loss being 15%.
Potential Wegovy® side effects
There is a chance that you’ll experience some side effects if you’re prescribed Wegovy®. We’ll break down these side effects into very common, common, uncommon and rare.
- Very common means more than 1 in 10 people
- Common means between 1 in 100 people and 1 in 10 people
- Uncommon means between 1 in 1000 people and 1 in 100 people
- Rare means between 1 in 10000 and 1 in 1000 people
Very common Wegovy® side effects
The most common side effects for Wegovy® are:
- Stomach ache/abdominal pain
In the 68-week trial of Wegovy® around 44% of the patients on Wegovy® experienced nausea, so it’s quite likely you might experience this symptom. There are things you can do to try and ease nausea, which we’ll go into later on in the article. But it’s also worth remembering that lots of these symptoms will pass with time, as you adjust to the treatment.
Common Wegovy® side effects
There are quite a few common side effects for Wegovy®, these include:
- Acid reflux
- Inflammation of the lining of the stomach (gastritis)
- Reaction at the injection site
- Hair loss
Some people also reported getting gallstone disease (when gallstones start giving you symptoms).
And there are some common side effects for people with type 2 diabetes which include:
- Low blood sugar levels (hypoglycaemia)
- Diabetic retinopathy – this is when high blood sugar levels damage the back of the eye
Uncommon Wegovy® side effects
In terms of uncommon side effects with Wegovy® – some people experienced an increased heart rate. And some people experience increased levels of lipase or amylase, two enzymes used by the body to break digest certain nutrients.
Acute pancreatitis is also reported as an uncommon side effect, a condition which causes the pancreas to become inflamed over a short period of time. You might also have a fever or feel sick with acute pancreatitis. If you suddenly develop severe abdominal pain, it's important you contact your GP immediately. If this isn't possible ring 111 or attend A&E.
Rare Wegovy® side effects
These side effects are, as the name suggests, very rare but you should be aware of them just in case. The reported rare side effects are:
- Angioedema – a swelling under the skin often caused by something you're allergic to
- Anaphylactic reaction – a severe allergic reaction which will need urgent medical attention
How long do Wegovy® side effects last?
Depending on the side effect you’re experiencing it might last for longer than others. And this also might depend on how well your body can tolerate the treatment.
When you’re starting on Wegovy®, the dosage will increase every four weeks for 16 weeks. Dizziness, headaches and digestive side effects (nausea, vomiting, constipation gas) tend to be worse when you’re increasing your dosage of Wegovy®. But these do tend to pass as your body adjusts to the dosage.
Managing Wegovy® side effects
As we’ve said, lots of the side effects will pass with time, as your body gets used to the treatment. But if you have any side effects that are concerning you, or you feel as though you can’t cope, it’s important to speak to your clinician. They might be able to help with advice or support on side effects and in some cases, they might be able to prescribe a treatment to help out.
If you’re experiencing nausea there are a few things you can do yourself to try and limit the impact on you, these include:
- Eating small, plain meals
- Try and get some fresh air
- Try drinks or food with ginger or mint (e.g. herbal teas or ginger biscuits)
If you’re experiencing headaches, you might be able to take over the counter painkillers, but before taking any treatment, you should double check with your clinician.