Wellness Influencers Push False Birth Control Pills Info On TikTok, Instagram

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Contraceptive

An increasing number of U.S. wellness influencers in 2024 are spreading misinformation about birth control pills side effects on social media, alarming experts who fear this could lead to a surge in unintended pregnancies, especially as the country faces strict abortion restrictions.

Researchers highlight that many influencers, lacking medical credentials, are amplifying potential side effects of birth control to market their own products, ranging from “healing” oils to fertility-tracking apps. Notable among them is Taylor Gossett, a TikTok personality with nearly 200,000 followers, who brands the medication as “toxic” while promoting her alternative “natural” birth control methods. Her birth control pill TikTok videos garnered a lot of following daily,

The rise in misinformation coincides with heightened stakes surrounding reproductive rights, as abortion is either banned or heavily restricted in nearly half the states, following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the national right to abortion.

Michael A. Belmonte, a fellow at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, expressed concern about the current political climate influencing personal health decisions. “Misinformation can dissuade people from using effective birth control, leading to unintended pregnancies in a landscape where abortion access is severely limited,” Belmonte noted.

The spread of such misinformation is seen as a response to tightening abortion regulations. Jenna Sherman, a misinformation researcher, ties the surge in false claims directly to anti-abortion groups. “People are in greater need of accurate reproductive health information and may feel more anxious about discussing these topics with health care providers,” she said.

Despite influencers advocating for methods like fertility awareness-based methods (FAMs), experts caution that these are significantly less reliable than medically prescribed contraceptives. The CDC reports a failure rate as high as 23 percent for FAMs, compared to more effective medical alternatives.

In addition to the misinformation on effectiveness, some influencers also falsely claim that quitting birth control can lead to weight loss, contributing to stigma and distorted body images among women.

Health professionals reaffirm that birth control pills for infertility are safe, urging those considering their contraceptive options to consult with healthcare providers. Misleading narratives online often overlook the fact that while birth control can cause side effects such as nausea and headaches, these are generally manageable and do not affect all users.

As the debate over reproductive rights continues to intensify, experts stress the importance of seeking information from reliable sources rather than social media influencers, whose primary aim may be to attract followers and monetize their platforms.

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