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?”
“And that has sugar?”
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.