Too fat to get pregnant – need WLS, ob-gyn doesn’t believe patient

Mel writes from Australia:

I found your blog and thought my story would fit right in.
I don’t have a good relationship with doctors. Frankly they terrify me, and I avoid them at all costs. Before we started trying to conceive I only went once a year for my annual pill prescription and pap smear if needed. My gp is good though, a really lovely person who never tries to tell me it’s all about how fat I am. Unfortunately not all doctors are as helpful.
I have been trying to conceive for more than a year now. In that time I have been to my gp for preliminary tests, taken vitamins every day, cut out the caffeine, watched what I eat and have recently taken up exercise at the gym. Unfortunately I have still not managed to get pregnant and have been having long long cycles with irregular temperatures and heavy bleeding. Off to my gp in January-she was very helpful, sent me off for an ultrasound and some blood tests, mainly general stuff since I hadn’t had any tests for around a decade, but also a GTT. It came back fine-no diabetes, nothing wrong with my girly bits on the ultrasound. She told us to keep trying and come back in a couple of months.
I returned to her in April, still with some crazy issues relating to long long cycles, long periods and no pregnancy. She told me it was fine to keep trying but would like me to see a gynaecologist. She wrote on the referral “Mel has been trying to conceive for more than 12 months but has been unsuccessful. She has a family history of PCOS and is overweight. Please help her with her fertility issue”. Okay I have no problem with what she wrote, it’s all accurate.
Off I trudged to the gynaecologist, test results in hand. In the time between January and May when I saw the gynaecologist I had been exercising and had lost around 15kg, which I thought was a stellar effort and showed I was trying to address the inevitable “you need to lose weight”. My gp had told me to lose 5% of my bodyweight and if my weight was the problem then my cycles would miraculously sort themselves out-after losing the weight there has been no improvement so I thought I had pre-empted their comment.
The first thing out of the gynaecologists mouth was “How much do you weigh”. 135kg. “Do you realise how obese you are?” I then told her I have been working hard to lose weight through diet and exercise, thinking to cut her off before she got into her fatbashing rant. As i explained that I had lost 15kg since January, was doing 90 minutes of cardio at the gym 5 times a week, and eating a low GI low fat low carb diet she rolled her eyes at me in disbelief. Her reply was “You are too fat for a baby. You need to get down to 65kg before I will help you”.
At that point I should have stood up, told her to go f*** herself and walked out but I was stunned. I guess she took the stunned silence as agreement because then she whipped out the lapbanding pamphlet and told me I had to have weight loss surgery. I told her no, not under any circumstances would I do that, it doesn’t work (my aunt had it done and is bigger than she was before), and she then continued to patronise me. She told me I was infertile because I had been on the pill for 15 years, that taking basal body temperatures was a waste of time as they don’t show ovulation, and that I would need ivf to conceive. She could tell all this apparently from looking at me and reading my full blood count, my GTT results and looking at my completely normal ultrasound results. I just sat there as she lectured me about how I had to take pre-natal vitamins (because of course, being fat, I must be stupid and incapable of reading). She told me I must be very lazy because she only had to walk for 30 minutes a day to lose 1/2 a kilogram.
Not once did she ask me about my symptoms, and when I pointed out that I didn’t have the crazy cycles and issues before I went on the pill and I was fat then, she ignored me and kept bringing up the weight loss surgery as the only option available to me. As I left she handed me the weight loss surgery pamphlet and told me to think about it for next time I came. No hope was given, no suggestions on how she was going to investigate or manage the issues I am having in terms of cycles and some pretty severe bleeding, just “you are fat. you are fat. you are fat”.
By the time I left her surgery I was in tears, and as I walked away I had never felt so depressed in my life. All I wanted was a baby, just one, I had walked into her office so full of hope and had been in a really good place before she opened her mouth. I rang my husband and could barely speak, I was so upset. As I told him what had happened he got more and more angry till finally he said “How can you let someone speak to you like that. You are worth so much more than that”. At that point I realised that the strong assertive Me had been turned into the compliant humiliated voiceless Me by someone who didn’t know me, didn’t care about me, and didn’t even behave in a professional manner towards me.
I don’t know what box of cornflakes she got her medical degree off the back of, but if she actually genuinely wanted to help me (even if in her opinion the only possible option was helping me lose weight) then did she really think she was going to get very far by just humiliating me? As for me I am now needing to go off to my gp again for another referral, but I have put it off for the last few weeks because I am not sure if I can face going through that again with another specialist. I thought the Hippocratic oath said “first do no harm” but I guess that emotional damage to a fat person doesn’t count as she didn’t see me as a person, just a big pile of lard.

Miscarriage, D & C scheduled, doctor suggests WLS

A reader writes:

First I want to say thank you so much for this blog. It makes me angry, but it also helps me feel understood.

I have always been fat. I was a fat child, a fat teenager, and now am a fat adult.

When my husband and I decided to try to have a baby, we discovered that I had a fertility issue (unrelated to my weight) that would prevent any sort of natural conception. Fast forward six years to our second IVF try and we were ecstatic that it worked. Until week 10 when I went in for my first scan and they found that the baby did not have a heartbeat. We were crushed. We decided that I would go off all medication that was supporting the pregnancy and wait for my body to spontaneously abort.

Unfortunately a week later, I ended up in the emergency room, bleeding heavily and in a significant amount of pain. I will say that I in all of these situations, my fertility doctor, the OB who did the first scan, and the ER staff & doctors, all of them treated me with respect and compassion. After receiving some pain medication, I opted to come back the next day for a D&C, considered a same-day surgery.

Here is where my story turns so awful. Because of my husband’s work duties, he was unable to accompany me to the surgery wing the next morning, although he was able to be there before I actually went into surgery and for my recovery. I waited alone for my file to get processed, for the nurse to take my blood pressure and temperature and finally I sat and waited for the anesthesiologist.

I got called back by Dr. H and walked back to sit at his desk. He ignored my medical history (which showed no prior problems with anesthesia at my weight) and began to detail all of the complications that can happen under anesthesia at my weight. Fine. Whatever. I was in a haze and pretty much ignored him unless I was asked a direct question.

But then he looked me in the eye and said, “You know, we have a really excellent bariatric surgery program here. You should think about doing it. You can always get pregnant again later. Your knees will thank you if you do it. I know you’re fine now, but that much extra weight will have a lot of repercussions later on.”

I sat there, stunned. And shamed. And to this day, thinking about it makes me cry. I said nothing in my own defense.

Later as I was laying in pre-op, a chaplain came by and prayed with me. Then he just stood and talked to me for awhile. Out of nowhere, Dr. H comes up to my bedside to check in before surgery. He looks across the bed at the chaplain and says, “I’ve been trying to talk her into doing our bariatric surgery program.”

Did I mention that pre-op is just a bunch of curtained off areas?

Thank God for the chaplain who glared at Dr. H until he left and then just stood with me and held my hand. The shame I felt was indescribable. I was already blaming myself and my body and my weight for being the reason that my baby was gone.

I didn’t tell anyone about what Dr. H said. I didn’t write an angry letter to the hospital. I tried to forget it, but even though that was almost 3 years ago, I remember every second of the horror that I felt. The way that my shame almost choked me.

You don’t have to post my story on your blog, but I felt that this was the time and place to share what happened. Maybe I will go ahead and write that letter telling the hospital how I was treated. I’m fairly new to the Fat Acceptance blog world and it’s going to take me some time to change the way my mind works. I’m hopeful that I can work to put that shame behind me and stop blaming myself for what happened.

Thanks for the venue and for reading this far.

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?”


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.

Pregnancy and Doctor Doom – He was wrong, wrong, wrong!

Jennifer writes:

During my first pregnancy, I got regular checkups from my in-network provider, a group medical practice, as well as from a midwife. The visits with the various doctors at the practice were punctuated with uncomfortable silences and long looks. Finally, when I was about four months along, one of them said hesitantly, “Well, I don’t know if anybody has raised this as a concern, but you’re . . . well, you’re obese.”

What I wanted to say was, “Gosh, I never knew that! No wonder my clothes have to be so big! Thank you for clearing up this mystery, doctor!” What I said was, “Yes, I’m aware of that.”

“Well, we were worried that you would get upset if we raised the subject.”

“No, that’s fine.”

So she went down the laundry list of Awful Awful Things, such as blood pressure (always normal), blood sugar (ditto), hauling around the baby weight on overstressed joints (I told her that my weight had actually gone down just before I conceived), and so on and so on and doobie doobie doobie. She started looking a little unnerved as the fat lady just sat there giving assorted variations of, “Yes, I know, and as you can see from my chart, I’m perfectly okay.”

So on the next visit, another member of the practice flipped through the last doctor’s notes and said, “I see that you’ve been made aware of our concerns about your obesity.” I nodded and smiled and he went on to tell me solemnly that I was so fat inside (or as he put it, I had so much “excess tissue”) that I could never have a baby without medical assistance, so my planned homebirth would just have to be canceled, and he looked forward to working with me if I got him on rotation in the labor and delivery suite at the hospital.

And I took a copy of his notes to the midwife, who–gasp, shock–did an internal exam and said that Doctor Doom was full of shit. I had a good set of abs under my flab due to the crunches I had been doing faithfully for years, I had a classic gynecoid pelvis, my tissue health was excellent (I had been taking high-powered vitamins recommended by my midwife and eating well), and she even had me do a Kegel around her fingers to prove that I did not have a flabby incompetent twat. In her opinion, I was not likely to have a problem even if my baby was twins.

I had that baby at home, after a four and a half hour labor. In fact, I had all of my babies at home. They’re fine, I’m fine, and Doctor Doom has never retracted his ridiculous assertion. Not that I see him for anything if I have a choice!

I live in a midwife-unfriendly state and I don’t want to cause her any trouble, even indirectly. So just sign me,
Big Fat Mama of Three

Endometriosis diagnosis & treatment nightmare

Sophia writes:

I carry my weight very well. So well, in fact, that nurses often weigh me twice, and most doctors don’t comment on my weight until they sit back and look at my chart. I was a competitive athlete growing up, and although I am certainly overweight now, I still retain much muscle mass especially in my thighs. I am tall for a woman and even at my thinnest have never dipped below a 14/16 (and I was almost unhealthily thin at that point, subsisting on diet coke and cigarettes).
Toward the middle of ’06 I began experience constant pain. Endometriosis had been bandied around as a possible diagnosis since i was 14, and I had been on hormonal birth control almost continuously since then. My mother had endometriosis, and so did many of her female relatives. I searched high and low, and finally found a specialist (a Reproductive Endocrinologist) who supposedly had experience in treating endometriosis in my area. There were not many, and he was the only one who would treat me for the medical condition, not for the infertility aspect.
The initial interview was horrible. Right from the start he told my husband and I we shouldn’t think of children yet, that we were too young and should be out of school (as if that’s his business at all). He took one look at the weight on my chart and said that my pain was probably psychosomatic and/or caused by my weight and that I was more than likely too fat to conceive naturally anyway. After I was nearly in tears, my very typically cool-headed husband told the doctor heatedly that he had lived with me for a good deal of time and that I was in so much pain daily that I could hardly function. Of course I had gained weight, my husband pointed out, I had been hardly able to leave the house for months. Finally the doctor agreed to take an ultrasound. I lay on the table holding my husband’s hand silently gagging from the pain. Only then did the doctor look down and say “does this hurt?” like I was some freak. I hardly croaked out a “yes”. The doctor looked sternly at me, then left the room for me to get dressed.
When we met him in the hallway, he said he was ordering a laparascopic surgery to examine my insides. He was ‘piggy backing’ me onto another surgery, and told me he would ‘order a laser just in case’ but he ‘doubted it would be used’. He told me again I needed to lose weight and see a shrink.
A month later I had the surgery. What should have been a 30 minute procedure stretched 5 times that length, much closer to 2 1/2 hours. My uterus was covered with spots, and the photographs he took looked like someone had taken a lit cigarette to my insides. Upon research, he only made 2 incisions, instead of the typical three, and never checked my other internal organs beside my uterus/ovaries. While I was in the post-op recovery room, the doctor came out to speak with my husband and my mother. He flat out told them the surgery was much more difficult because he had to work through ‘layers of fat’. He told my husband I was severely overweight, and the ‘amount’ of endometriosis he found was not enough to be causing the pain i was in (which goes against all current research on the condition). My husband almost punched him right there in the hospital. It was obvious he was trying to cover up his previous insensitivity and disbelief. It was obvious i had this disease, and he didn’t even have enough time or care to treat me fully.
I have not gone back to this doctor. My GP and my last ob/gyn were and are immensely supportive of my health, overweight or not. They are both convinced my weight struggle is related to a hormone imbalance from my endometriosis, combined with the difficulty I have in staying physically active. I know they would like me to lose some weight, but mostly manage my hypoglycemia and get some cardio worked into my life. They never push or are mean about it. I told them both what the surgeon said, and neither could believe or agree with what he put me through.
The absolute worst part is that this doctor trains Reproductive Endocrinologists at my local medical university. I hope they learn more compassion and better bedside manner than he ever imparted. The best part of all of this? The guy had to be 250 lbs himself, easily.

PCOS isn’t a real disease, it’s made up by fat women.

Susanne writes:

From 1999-2001 I was suddenly health insured again and although I was living about 150 mi away from the specialists I eventually needed to see, I decided to have a thorough checkup. I am significantly overweight and qualify as morbidly obese; strangely, most doctors observe, I don’t seem to have the expected health problems from it, but for various reasons I wouldn’t mind losing about half of my body weight, which would still make me overweight, but not as much. I’d like to be able to buy clothing in a local clothing store, and I guess I admit I’d like people not to stare at me on the street. Three different diets didn’t help much (20 pounds off), and the exercise typically recommended for people in my situation didn’t seem to impact me much, either. The results of that push to get treated were, after many trips back and forth, a doctor supervised diet and exercise plan, a lot of tests, a few procedures, a preliminary diagnosis of PCOS. Just as I was ready to start treatment for that, I had to change jobs and move about 1,000 miles away to a different city. When I changed jobs, I had a six month exclusion of treatment on my new policy for anything that was a pre-existing condition. After the six months were over, I went to a gynecological practice that was recommended univocally by a number of my new female colleagues. I was lucky enough to have doctors in the first city who gave me a copy of all the test results and treatment attempts, and I took this file of paper along with me expecting to pick up where I had left off. I have never been so humiliated. A robe that covered a third of my body, a nurse who addressed me by my first name in a town and culture where the usual form of address is Ms or Mrs., insulted me by telling me straight out that my stomach is disgusting, and then read my blood pressure four times because she didn’t believe anyone at my weight could have a bp of 120/90, and a gynecologist who took one look at me, and even before doing the basic gynecological check, started a checklist of new procedures she wished to perform on me because something was wrong (as I stated that I had irregular, weird periods). “I am going to give a prescription to start your period immediately, you should probably go on birth control, you will have to have an immediate biopsy, and let’s see, we’ll start with thyroid”…and my reply was “actually, I have been through a lot of this already, my most recent result for thyroid problems was negative” and she said “how do you know that?” and I pulled out my folder of two years of testing. I said, “you may want to look at these. My last doctor had just arrived at a diagnosis of PCOS when I had to move.” The reply? “PCOS isn’t a real disease, it’s been made up by fat women.” I said, “I just had a biopsy about eight months ago,” and she said, “we can’t trust the results of those tests. If they told you you have PCOS they are quacks and are not interpreting the results correctly. You need to do what I say.” I said, “you know, I am not three years old. I have been reading medical materials since this diagnosis showed up on the horizon, and I think PCOS is a pretty well accepted phenomenon, you can question whether I have it, but I don’t think you can question whether there is such a thing as PCOS” and she said, “why are you reading medical materials? You can’t possible understand them,” and I said, “I have a Ph.D. I may not understand everything, but I am capable of understanding a lot” and she said, “well, you are NOT a doctor.” Realizing we weren’t going anywhere, I said, “can we complete the physical exam?” There was some issue with how the speculum was angled (she didn’t seem very experienced in performing the procedure) and she said, “stop bearing down!” and I said, “I am not bearing down” and she said, “well, who would have thought your vaginal muscles would be so strong. You can’t be having much sex.” (Note: I had indicated on the form that I am sexually active with my partner. I guess she didn’t believe anyone as disgusting as me could be telling the truth.) I thought this wasbeyond the pale and I said, “would you please complete the exam?” I left the office shaking.

Two days later the practice nurse called back to schedule all of the tests that this doctor had ordered. I said, “I will not be scheduling tests with your practice, after my insulting experiences in your practice, I am not sure that you or the doctor is competent” and she said, “you just can’t stand it that someone is finally telling you the truth about your weight.” And I said, “no one knows the truth about my weight better than me. I am the one who lives in my body, thank you very much.”

Thank you to the doctors in the first city who didn’t assume I was just a lazy pig. I stood up for myself with this new practice, but I doubt it had any effect on them. And I haven’t been to a doctor since then. I wish I could get the courage to find another gynecologist, but I can’t risk this kind of treatment again. It made me feel suicidal for weeks. I am pretty sure I had cyst rupture last week. I know I should find a new doctor. But I am at a crucial point in my work and I can’t risk the emotional disequilibrium. I am shaking just writing this.

Diagnosis: Shut your mouth once in a while

Emily writes…

I went to the doctor because I had gained 70 lbs in a year (without changing my diet or activity level) and had stopped having my period.  I’m currently 5′ 7”  220lbs.  At the time, I weighed about 240.  I had always been curvy, but had never had belly fat or lots of flab.  I made an appointment with my sister’s gynecologist to see if we could get to the root of these problems.  I wasn’t very nervous about the visit because my sister (a svelte 5′ 7” 150) raved about this doctor, saying she’s the best doctor she’s ever had and how she really helped when my sister had ovarian cysts and other female problems.

I walked in and the nurse took my vitals.  I changed into the paper robe and blanket and waited my turn. When the doctor walked in, she could’ve been a replica of my sister with a different face.  She took one look at me and asked me what the problem was.  When I told her that I hadn’t had a period in three months and that there was no possible way I could be pregnant, she immediately came back with “It’s because you’re overweight.”

She then told me to “shut my mouth once in a while” and to lay off the junk food (I never snack and can’t stand potato chips and pretzels.  If I do need something, I go for unbuttered popcorn or an apple).  She methodically did my exam, only complimenting me once on the tattoo I have of my alma mater’s insignia…turns out she is also an alum of my school.

At the end of the exam, she reiterated that I needed to stop eating so much and lose some weight.  I had to tell her a few more times that I had gained so much weight in a year without any change to diet or lifestyle before she really understood.  She grumpily agreed to run some blood tests to check for diabetes, thyroid problems and hormone levels.  I fasted and went to have my blood drawn.

When she called me back with the results, it was like I was a different patient and she was a different doctor.  It turns out that my recent weight gain and lack of menstruation was caused either by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or a tumor on one of my glands.  She referred me to the best endocrinologist in the area and apologized for having to deal with either illness, though she never apologized for how she treated me in her office.

Thankfully, [the endocrinologist] diagnosed that it wasn’t a tumor and that it wasn’t Cushings and we proceeded with the treatment for PCOS.  I lost about 40lbs in the first year of treatment.   My body basically needed hormone shock therapy to get itself back on track.  I have since had regular periods on and off the pill and feel a lot better.

Sharp, crushing pain? Lose some weight.

Kate writes…

About two and a half years ago, I went to a new gynecologist because I’d gotten a new job and had changed insurance plans. I was going for a routine checkup, but I was also having occasional sharp pains in my lower abdomen, mostly on my right side. I’d gone to my primary care provider first, because some of the pains had been on the left and my mother had voiced concerns about appendicitis. When I pointed to the painful areas, my PCP said the pains were in my ovaries and were probably ovarian cysts bursting. She told me to see my gyno.

I figured the cysts were the same as the ones that had been coming and going in my breasts for a few years. I had my first mammogram at age 20 and several ultrasounds, not to mention four different biopsies. Everything had come back benign; I thought this would be more of the same.

So I went to my gyno, who immediately dismissed my pain, saying that it would go away if I lost weight. Despite my asking what she thought the pains WERE that could be alleviated by weight loss, I didn’t get an answer. But since I’d had other cysts, I wasn’t particularly concerned, and the pain seemed to come less frequently, so I put off finding a new gynecologist for awhile.

Six months or so later, my company had changed insurance providers, so yet again I had to find a new gynecologist. I got lucky this time and found one who didn’t think my pains were weight-related. Unfortunately, by the time I got in to see her, I was only able to jump the list because my pain had gotten much worse and was now accompanied by a large growth.

After many, many pelvic exams, ultrasounds, and CT scans, I was finally told I had a large tumor in my right ovary. The surgeon told me there was a 70 to 80 percent chance that the tumor was benign–but that also meant there was a 20 to 30 percent chance it was malignant. And there was no way of knowing until they could remove the tumor and do a biopsy.

In March of 2006, I had surgery to remove the tumor, which thankfully turned out to be benign. But by the time the surgeon had an opening, the tumor had grown. It was over eight inches long and three inches wide by the time it came out. And since it had been inside my ovary it had strangled and crushed the ovarian tissue. There was no way to salvage it, so when the surgeon removed the tumor, he also took out my right ovary and Fallopian tube.

I still have the left one, but there have been a few cysts in that one too, so I now have ultrasounds twice a year to ensure that my remaining ovary is still healthy. I have to take birth control pills on a ten-week cycle, meaning I only have a period four times a year. There are benefits to that, but while the hormones in the BCPs are helping my ovary, they’re increasing the occurrence of cysts in my breasts. Something of a catch-22.

Considering my history of breast cysts, it’s possible that I’d have had the ovarian cysts anyway. But if that first doctor had listened to me, she might have caught the cyst before it grew into a tumor and destroyed my ovary.

“It’s only been in the last year I’ve found a doctor that looks at me as a person”

Branwyn writes…

I have so many stories, years and years of being treated as just “fat” instead of a person with real, physical problems.

My first time with the prejudice doctors have against overweight people was when I was 16.  I’d had amenorrhea for a year at that point.  My grandmother (who I was living with) took me to the doctor, who, after doing a pregnancy test and a cursory pelvic exam, told my grandmother that I was just fat, and that if I lost weight, I’d get my menses back.  Oh, I weighed 165lbs on a 5’2″ body.  I was in a size 16, which yes, is overweight, but not what is usually considered normal to interfere with menses.

That started my hate of doctors and my utter loathing of my body.


“It Would Be Unethical to Help a Fat Woman Get Pregnant”

Janet writes…

Hi, I saw your call for emails re: bad experiences with doctors. Boy, have I had a ton of them. But this is the most recent, and most painful to date.

To bring you up to speed rather quickly, my husband, “Chuck,” and I have been trying to have a child for the past 4 years. We have had two miscarriages. Finally, we were referred to our friendly neighbourhood fertility specialist. We first met him and he was very nice, and incredibly professional. He saw us, we filled in a 14 page questionnaire, and we talked about the situation. He first thought I had PCOS, which turned out to be not the case. Then he did other tests, and failing all that, he concluded that if I lost a bit of weight it might be helpful. He figured that, hearing that advice from him would be the push I would need in the right direction, I guess. So anyway, he sends me away for three months to work on my weight, which I do. I watch what I eat, I exercise, I enjoy life… I am careful. And we try like hell to have a child naturally.

After the three months are up, and we aren’t pregnant, we head back to his office.