The first of many times I’ve run into an issue with a doctor relating to weight as with a female urologist when I was a mere ten years old. I was a chubby child, probably in the “overweight” BMI range. I’d been dealing with severe urinary tract and kidney infections since I was roughly 6 years old. My family doctor had referred me to her so that she could do testing to see what the issue was. Instead, she flat out refused to do any kind of testing and instead gave me a 30 minute lecture on how if I had been watching my diet, none of this would have happened. She told me I’d better start dieting before it was too late. Remember, I was ten. I was in the exam room with my father, who at this point was absolutely mortified. We quietly left, and I never went back to see that doctor. This experience alone caused me to avoid dealing with this health issue until several years later.
I’m also deeply bothered by a trip to the campus clinic I took when I was 19 (this is 3 years ago, for reference.) I was seeing them to obtain birth control– I went to the clinic because they were a low cost option and I was a very, very poor college student without insurance and my normal doctor had a 2 month wait for routine gyno exams. First, the nurse weighed me. She raised an eyebrow and gave me a glaringly obvious condescending once over. I was then taken into the exam room, where they refused to use a correctly sized blood pressure cuff. Unsurprisingly, it was a bit high. I calmly explained to them that it was normally fine and I offered to get a statement from my GP that my blood pressure has always been fine and that I’d had it checked fairly recently. I was told this was irrelevant, as obviously I would have blood pressure due to my weight. This was followed by the usual weight lecture. Finally, they agreed to give me a birth control shot called Depo Provera. I asked about side effects (I hadn’t even considered this method prior to the appointment) and they gave me a very limited list of side effects. They made no mention of headaches, dizziness, depression, or nervousness. They also failed to mention being on the shot long term be a major risk for osteoporosis, which I have read since is a HUGE problem with this form of birth control. I took the shot.
After receiving it, I gained about 15 pounds in 3 months. This was not normal for me– I’ve maintained a pretty regular weight for a couple of years. I had expected it though, as weight gain is a pretty common birth control side effect. I also experienced the headaches, dizziness on and off, depression, and terrible anxiety. I went back for my scheduled shot and I wanted to discuss my concerns with the doctor, as after feeling pretty icky while taking it I’d done some research and found there were side effects I had not been informed of. I was told that the side effects must be in my head, even after I pointed out everything I had been experiencing since starting Depo Provera was listed on the manufacturer’s website as a possible side effect. The doctor also took it upon herself to tell me, even though I’d not even mentioned weight, that I had obviously gained weight due to eating too much and not exercising because, and I quote, “the medication doesn’t contain any actual calories” and that Depo Provera was not linked to weight gain. I was shocked. I’m not savvy with science, but even I know that’s an absurd statement. Most birth control comes with some weight gain and from what I’ve read since, some women gain a lot of weight on Depo Provera. In response, I mumbled something about incompetence and abruptly ended the appointment. I filed a complaint with the university but was never given a proper response.