'I'm on Ozempic and the side effects have been brutal.'

I was prescribed Ozempic for weight loss because I had experienced some weight-related health issues. During the pandemic and Victoria’s lockdown period, I put on 18kg. I comfort ate and drank quite heavily to escape mentally. It was a tough time working from home whilst home-schooling two kids with dyslexia.

Fast forward a year or so and I was still struggling to lose the weight I had gained. I believe it was a combination of stress, alcohol, relationship and work issues, and perimenopause

Watch: Here are just some of the effects after one year without drinking alcohol. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Once the country began to open up, work got very busy and required travel, as well as attending and managing several big events. At the end of the year, I ended up in hospital with diverticulitis. This is an infection/inflammation in the digestive tract. Factors that increase the risk of diverticulitis include stress, heavy alcohol use and obesity

A Gastroenterologist advised me to stop drinking alcohol and lose weight. They wrote me a prescription for a new weight-loss drug called Ozempic. She didn’t explain how the drug worked or give me any advice about side effects or how to manage them. I had read about the supply issues it was causing for Type 2 diabetics and when I questioned this, she brushed me off and sent me on my merry way.

I had no luck the first few times I tried to fill the prescription, so I put it on the back burner. In the meantime, I was reading about the amazing results lots of people - including celebrities - were having.


Last year there were massive shortages nationwide in Australia and the abhorrent looks and occasional eye roll I got from some pharmacists when I asked for it was enough to deter me from pharmacy hopping. It became a futile exercise in stopping into different pharmacies in my area and hoping for an elusive pack that may be floating around after they had dispensed the drug to all their customers who were Type 2 diabetics. I understood diabetics were the priority and entitled to go first, so I waited until my local pharmacy had enough stock to dispense it for weight loss.

I officially started Semaglutide (Ozempic) just over five months ago. I was advised to start on a low dose and gradually move up to a higher dose over a period of time.

Starting on the lower dosage, I did lose a little bit of weight - about 2kg in the first eight weeks. My appetite did decrease slightly, but I was still getting hungry throughout the day. I was experiencing waves of nausea and some headaches, but it was manageable by taking Ibuprofen. I was also fatigued and if I could, I would nap in the afternoon. Not ideal but at this stage I could cope with the side effects.

I upped my exercise, visiting the gym to do strength training three times a week, went for nature walks plus an additional two dance classes. I tried to eat protein at every meal. I didn't lose my fondness for chocolate (some people report they completely lose the taste for sugar), but I certainly cut back.

Going up to the maximum dosage was a game changer; my appetite decreased substantially and over the next few months I lost another 4kg. What was strange was that when I started on the higher dose initially the side effects were okay but over time, they got worse and got to the point where I was feeling very sick. I had nausea, extreme exhaustion, abdominal pain and constipation daily. 


This is when I decided to get real and start doing some research. I went on a quest to learn as much as I could about the drug and its side effects. I spent hours doom scrolling through Facebook user groups, listening to countless podcasts, and audiobooks. I called a surgeon friend of mine to ask her advice and went to my GP to discuss it.

What I learnt was quite frankly shocking–especially in the Facebook user groups. The side effects some people were willing to suffer through to lose weight were astounding.

Some reported throwing up all day, alongside severe diarrhea and abdominal pain. I’ve read about sulfur burps, bad farts (yes they are a thing), rapid heartbeat and vision changes. More severe side effects include kidney and gallbladder problems and pancreatitis.

Obviously, this terrified me, but it was working, and I was losing weight finally. The cost versus the benefits was such a conundrum.

I had completely quit alcohol, and I was exercising like crazy, so I should be feeling on top of the world. Not crippled with constipation and exhaustion and headaches.

My GP and I agreed it was best if I stopped the drug to see how I felt. Which I did and guess what, within days the hunger (people in the user groups call it 'food noise') returned with a vengeance.

There is no doubt in my mind that once off the drug, most people will regain the weight they have lost. 

Fortunately, I started to feel better; the headaches dissipated quite quickly, the constipation eased, and I wasn’t so tired.


Unfortunately, I was hungry again and began to eat more. I was still making healthy choices, but I was getting ravenous in the afternoon and what I needed to eat to feel full was increasing. I regained 1kg, and I was bitterly disappointed.

Any person who has continuously battled with their weight and the demons that come with it knows that once you find a way to get results you want to cling to it desperately.

Listen: Mamamia's daily news podcast tackles if Ozempic is really a weight loss wonder drug. Post continues after audio.

I read some people had decreased the dosage to the starting dose to get fewer side effects and injected it in their thighs rather than stomachs. Others break it up throughout the week and take smaller (micro) doses more often. I decided to clear my body of the drug, by giving it two weeks and restarting on the same initial low dose as before. A few weeks back I increased it by a very small amount. Yes, some side effects have returned (mainly headaches and tiredness) and a new one—hair loss but at this stage they are manageable. I have lost another kilo, and my clothes are starting to feel loose.

In total, I’ve lost about 7.5kg over five months with a two-week break in the middle. 

For me, this drug is by no means a 'wonder drug'. On a high dose the side effects are intolerable, I cannot manage everyday life feeling so sick. What I have learnt is the only way I can stay on it is by taking a very low dose.

Everybody reacts differently. Some have no side effects and others are hit with the full gamut. 

Read more of our articles about Ozempic below:

Feature image: Getty.