Depo BC & extreme weight gain – must be all the sugary soda/juice you drink.

Christine writes:

Several years ago I decided to go on the Depo shot for birth control and to help with heavy bleeding/painful periods. It worked great, and my periods completely stopped for several years. However, my doctor never mentioned weight gain, let alone severe weight gain, as a possible side effect. I gained 70 – 80 lbs in my first 2 years on the shot. (And since I was still in the body hatred/pro dieting mindset at the time, I blamed it all on myself. My Family Practitioner certainly never brought up the possibility it was due to the medication.) Once I started reading about the extreme weight gain that can happen with Depo, I decided to go off the shot. (My last one was about a year ago.)

Unfortunately, the heavy bleeding/painful periods came back with a vengeance and I ended up in the ER, where I was given an ultrasound. I was told it looked “suspicious” for adenomyosis (a condition in which endometrial tissue grows into the muscular walls of the uterus) and referred to an outpatient OB-GYN clinic for an endometrial biopsy.

The doctor at the clinic started off great. He looked at my chart and said, “I see you had the lovely side effect of weight gain with the Depo shot. Unfortunately, for some women, they have to watch their diet so closely to keep from gaining weight that it outweighs the benefits.” We talked for a minute about what my weight had been before the shot (stable between 220 – 230), my weight after the shot (300), and then an additional weight gain that had come with quitting smoking (340). I’ve since lost about 20 lbs. since my periods returned 5 months ago.

So, as I said, things were going great. He had mentioned my size and weight as it related to my issues, but it was respectful and matter-of-fact. Then he said, “Let me ask you this…what do you drink during the day?”

“Crystal light.”

“And that has sugar?”

“No.”

He frowned like he hadn’t heard me right. “What else do you drink? What about juice? Soda?”

“No, not really. It’s Crystal Light morning, noon and night.”

At this point he was incredulous. It was obvious he didn’t believe me.

“You NEVER drink soda or juice?”

I answered, “Juice, almost never. I’ll have an occasional soda when I’m out, but I don’t buy it for the house.”

At this point he smiled and nodded an “Ah ha!”

“Diet?” he asked, with a sly look on his face.

“No,” I answered.

“Diet?” he asked again.

“No,” I repeated, “I drank nothing but diet soda for over 20 years. I can’t stand the taste of it anymore. If I’m going to drink a soda, it’s going to be the real thing.”

“DIET!” he said forcefully, with a huge grin on his face. “That’s the problem,” he said, “regular soda is 100 calories a glass!”

“I don’t drink it often enough for it to matter,” I said.

“How often is that?” he asked.

“Maybe once a week, if that.” I replied

He mumbled something about Diet Dr. Pepper and how it tasted better than other diet sodas, gave a little shake of his head and dropped the subject. Then he went back to being kind, informative and respectful. But that incident really upset me. I’ll see him again in 3 weeks for the results, and I’m tempted to haul in the bag full of plastic Crystal Light containers I save for a local preschool to use for crafts. I don’t mind that he asked about my soda-drinking habits. I mind very much that he refused to believe my answer, and continued to hammer the issue – especially after acknowledging the extreme weight gain Depo can cause.

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23 Comments

  1. I had quite a bit of weight gain on Depo as well over the 2 1/2 years I took it. My ob/gyn eventually took me off of it because of the bone-loss you experience but she never said anything about my weight. Now I’m at risk for osteoperosis but at least I managed to not get pregnant at 16.
    I hate that so many drugs and other products out there have so many horrible side-effects. Who ever thought bone loss, or seizures, were ok side effects for BC?

    Reply
  2. Do you have any URLs for information on Depo Provera and weight gain? When I read about it prior to going on it 6 years ago the blurb said that I might gain 3 to 5 lbs, or something very small like that. If indeed it’s linked to more weight gain than that then that would explain why prior to discovering FA, in my dieting days, I would struggle to lose even half a lb a week but could easily gain 2-3 (since discovering FA and stopping dieting my weight is pretty much stable. Go figure.)

    Reply
  3. vesta44

     /  July 26, 2010

    http://www.rxlist.com/depo-provera-drug.htm says 2% of women quit using DP because of extreme weight gain (I’m betting it was more than 2%).
    http://www.birth-control-comparison.info/bcdepo.htm has more info and it’s better info, IMO.

    70% of women using Depo Provera gain weight. Almost half of the women using Depo Provera gain more than 5 pounds after one year of use. Many women gain more than 10 pounds.

    Still no exact numbers, but does leave the possibility for extreme weight gain there for more than 2% of women…….
    http://www.drugs.com/sfx/depo-provera-side-effects.html says DP can induce Cushing’s Syndrome, but it’s rare, so take that for what it’s worth.
    Most of the sites I looked at say the weight gain side effect can be controlled by diet and exercise (yeah, right, and I have a bridge for sale), so their advice isn’t worth much, IMO.

    Reply
  4. Kate

     /  July 26, 2010

    I gained a TON of weight just on the regular pill, which kept me from ever trying DP.

    That doctor makes me so mad. He’s so ingrained in his thinking that soda = weight gain that the notion that he can’t do the simple math that one soda a week compared to the all the calories you consume in a week is really insignificant.

    Reply
  5. HairyLegs

     /  July 26, 2010

    What gets to me in your story is the “gotcha” aspect, like the Dr is playing a game with you, where the Dr wins if they can find something you do to blame your weight on.

    Reply
  6. AB

     /  July 26, 2010

    That reminds me of the college doctor who insisted that the lump on my underarm was breast cancer from the aspartame filled Diet Cokes I drank for several years and my weight. She ranted on me about my diet soda drinking habits and my weight and tried to push veganism on me despite the fact that there was a mononucleosis epidemic on campus (swollen lymph nodes being a symptom of mono). Most of her rants were about the diet soda though I’ve had cousins whose mother had them on a sugar free diet, and fed them tons on sugar free products, and they grew up with no cancer or other defects.

    Reply
  7. I hated Depo. In part there was the weight gain, which came at a time where I was first struggling to come to terms with FA but still going “OMFG I’M GAINING WEIGGGGHT!!!!” But there was also the fact that when I did get my period during the time you’re supposed to get the shot it was like having 5 periods at once. It was absolutely horrible. Never before had been forced to skip ANYTHING, work, hanging out with my friends, a karate class, ANYTHING due to the pain of having my period, but when I was on Depo I called off twice. I know birth controls are supposed to good for making periods less painful but so far my experience with birth control has been the exact opposite.

    Depo made my period way more painful, Yaz made my period way more painful, Seasonique made my period more painful, etc. The only pill BC that doesn’t seem to make everything worse is the Mini-pill which doesn’t DO anything for a woman of my weight so really, it’s crap all across the board. I’m seriously considering going for an IUD since I hate having to remember to take pills anyway and I’m sick of the pills messing with my body, libido, and what used to be moderate periods. Although I’m nervous for an IUD too because the first, and so far, only experience I had with a Gyno was indescribably painful. And when I mentioned the BC’s possibly making things worse for me (aside from the convenience of not having to worry about getting pregnant) my gyno just shook her head and said that I must just be someone who’s periods get more painful as I get older. *sigh*

    Reply
  8. A college classmate of mine went on Depo and went from a UK size 6 to a size 16 in less than two months. I don’t believe that there is any way watching her diet would have mitigated this.

    Reply
  9. Just chiming in to share your frustration. Doctors NEVER believe me when I tell them about my diet and exercise habits. I think I have a pretty darn good handle on things (and part of what that means is a laid back attitude–if I only make it to the gym twice instead of three times in a week, I don’t beat myself up over it. If I want to have a piece of cake, I have the piece of cake without guilt).

    But doctors never, ever frickin believe me. It’s always “well, just get more exercise.” “Well, just cut out more sweets.”

    Look, I happen to enjoy living my life. If I start killing myself at the gym and think of food only as fuel, I will be taking a HUGE chunk of enjoyment out of my life. And from what I’ve been reading about the environmental and genetic influences on illness, fatness, etc. I’m not even convinced that doing those things would prolong my life. But even if they did, the loss in quality wouldn’t be worth it.

    So, pooh on doctors who insist that easy fixes will solve our so-called weight problem.

    Reply
  10. Katie: And that’s the truly bad cosmic joke behind all our “good fatty” debates: Nobody but us FAs seems to think there’s any such thing.

    Reply
  11. Kate

     /  July 27, 2010

    Library Lady: As a librarian, I’m sure you know everything, or at least how to look everything up :), but of all the birth control methods you mentioned, you didn’t mention condoms. After my very bad experience with the pill, my husband and I went to condoms and never looked back, that was 15 years ago. It might take some trial and error to find the right ones for you, but at least the experimenting is fun.

    Reply
  12. Kate, I certainly don’t know everything but I like to think I have a good handle on looking things up!

    I’ve seriously considered simply switching to relying on condoms entirely, but I like being able to double up. My boyfriend and I are both pretty financially unstable at this point and both pretty equally terrified of having another unexpected financial burden into the mix. I know he’d be fine with relying on condoms completely, but I do like having something additional, as a “just in case”.

    Thanks for the recommendation though.

    Reply
  13. lilacsigil

     /  July 28, 2010

    I think that doctor has a dentist cousin in Australia.

    Dentist: So, how much soft drink do you have every day?
    Me: None, I don’t drink any soft drink.
    Dentist: Yes, but how much?
    Me: None.
    Dentist: But how often do you drink it?

    Reply
  14. Miro

     /  July 28, 2010

    LibraryLady, i’m pretty large (about 310lbs) and I take the mini-pill successfully. You need to take two if you are over 150lbs, and I have heard of women who are over 400lbs taking three.

    I have also used the Implanon implant successfully too. I didn’t gain weight on while using it.

    Reply
  15. Kate

     /  July 28, 2010

    Library Lady: I have a MLIS, but I just didn’t have the desire to actually be a librarian by the time I graduated (it’s the public) but librarians are some of my favorite people.

    I understand wanting to be cautious, good for you. After my brief and horrible time with the pill, my cycle was all messed up and I was often buying condoms and pregnancy tests at the same time. And trust me, that’s just embarassing.

    Reply
  16. nonegiven

     /  September 12, 2010

    It may help with painful periods to supplement magnesium aspartate or some other chelated form, not oxide. It will take a while to build up enough of it in your body to make a difference so don’t give up right away. Take at least 400mg, more if you take calcium supplements or eat a lot of dairy, and make sure you take it with a fatty meal or snack. You want your calcium intake to be equal to or no more than twice your magnesium intake.

    Reply
  17. Muria

     /  October 11, 2010

    I was on Depo for a little over a year about 15 years ago. I didn’t experience weight gain, but it was incredibly bad for my emotional health. My husband said that I stopped being happy and cried a lot (I remember the crying) while I was on it. No one EVER mentioned depression or similar side effects to the Depo until I went off it, and mentioned it to my next ob-gyn (went to a clinic that rotates their staff).

    Also, regarding birth control, my husband and I use VCF (vaginal contraceptive film). It’s spermicide in a sheet that’s about 2 inches square. My husband puts it in (because his fingers are longer, and it’s supposed to go as close to the cervix as possible). If you’re not allergic to spermicide, it’s a good add-on to condoms. Should anyone still be interested in reading this.

    Reply
  18. Jackie

     /  November 19, 2010

    I would’ve told the doctor when he started in with repeating the word diet, that he could repeat it all he wanted, his childish insistance with going on a fishing expedition to find out why this Christine was fat was beyond unprofessional.

    I don’t understand what these doctors think they will acheive by bullying their patients like this. I mean, this doctor couldn’t have made it more obvious he wasjn’t going to let up until he found his reason for Christine being fat. This stuff really gets me, because it’s so absolutely unproductive.

    This doctor sounds like a greifer as we say in the online gaming community, he’s not doing anyone any good on his fat hating witch hunt. I wonder why he even has a liscence, he’s hassling you like an internet troll. Is this what being a doctor has become, you know the saying “if you hear hoof beats you expect horses not zebras”, it seems like this doctor is demanding all zebras resign to themselves they’re actually horses, just to save his lazy behind any trouble, that’s not being a doctor that’s being a quack.

    Where’s the medical curiousity? He’s a doctor not a fast food employee, his job doesn’t end after he’s put in as little effort he can get away with. If he doesn’t want to be a doctor then go find another job, don’t put people’s lives at risk, because considering deviations from the norm makes your head hurt from trying to think.

    Reply
  19. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my blog so here i am!.I am trying to find things to improve my blog!Is it ok if i use some of the things i saw here?!

    Reply
    • vesta44

       /  December 8, 2010

      You can use posts from here on your blog as long as you link back to First Do No Harm.

      Reply
  20. The ironic thing though is that research has shown that consumption of beverages with artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain because your body is expecting calories, and when they don’t come, you eat other food to get them.

    Not saying the original poster was doing this with her Crystal Light…but it is something that always makes me cringe about recommendations to drink diet beverages in order to loose weight. A much better recommendation is to drink water. Put a splash of juice, a wedge of lemon, or cucumber slices if you don’t like the flavor of plain water.

    Reply
    • vesta44

       /  December 13, 2010

      “Research” has shown that consumption of beverages with artificial sweeteners can lead to weight gain? Citation please. What research, who funded it, and what were they really looking to prove? How big was the study, how long did it last, how was it set up?
      It seems to me that if you’re drinking water flavored with a lemon wedge or cucumber slices, that’s also a drink with no calories. The flavor would be setting your body up to be expecting calories, thus defeating the purpose of not drinking something with an artificial sweetener in it.
      If artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain, what about the millions of people who drink artificially sweetened drinks and maintain a stable weight for years? Kind of knocks that theory into a cocked hat, wouldn’t you say?

      Reply
  21. Mentos

     /  January 5, 2013

    Hello there i hear pple talking abt the depro injection and gaining weight well i was on it for 8months nw and am quiting because it made me gain weight so now i wana ask is it possible for me to lose all of that weight that i have gained from doing a water and lemon fast?

    Reply

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