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Women are getting off birth control amid misinformation explosion /health/2024/03/21/stopping-birth-control-misinformation/

Search for birth control on TikTok or Instagram and a cascade of misleading videos vilifying hormonal contraception appear: Young women blaming their weight gain on the pill. Right-wing commentators claiming that some birth control can lead to infertility. Testimonials complaining of depression and anxiety.

Instead, many social media influencers recommend “natural” alternatives, such as timing sex to menstrual cycles — a less effective birth-control method that doctors warn could result in unwanted pregnancies in a country where abortion is now banned or restricted in nearly half the states.

Physicians say they’re seeing an explosion of birth-control misinformation online targeting a vulnerable demographic: people in their teens and early 20s who are more likely to believe what they see on their phones because of algorithms that feed them a stream of videos reinforcing messages often divorced from scientific evidence. While doctors say hormonal contraception — which includes birth-control pills and intrauterine devices (IUDs) — is safe and effective, they worry the profession’s long-standing lack of transparency about some of the serious but rare side effects has left many patients seeking information from unqualified online communities.

The backlash to birth control comes at a time of rampant misinformation about basic health tenets amid poor digital literacy and a wider political debate over reproductive rights, in which far-right conservatives argue that broad acceptance of birth control has altered traditional gender roles and weakened the family.

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