Scrolling although #birthcontrol on social media is sort of a field of candies. You by no means know what you’re going to get.

In one video, a lady turns to disclose a dramatic weight achieve, blaming contraception tablets. In one other, healthcare suppliers (HCPs) carry out a choreographed dance holding vaginal rings. A 3rd submit says, “Birth control makes you date crappy men.”

Social media makes it straightforward to place a message — any message, actually — into the world, however media has lengthy influenced conversations about girls’s well being.

Melissa Jordan, a registered nurse, mentioned she remembers the extremely publicized Women’s Health Initiative examine in 2002 that incorrectly mentioned taking estrogen causes breast most cancers. The outcomes of the poorly performed examine dominated the information and scared tens of millions of girls away from protected and efficient hormone remedy. Jordan mentioned some girls nonetheless imagine these outcomes as a result of there’s numerous misinformation about girls’s well being on the market — particularly on social media.

“There’s little [accurate] information or education regarding menopause. I can only imagine that there’s even less regarding sexual health and birth control,” Jordan mentioned.

On one hand, social media presents extra accessibility to data total. Research reveals some girls, particularly youthful girls, look to social media for perception on necessary matters like contraception.

But how have you learnt what you’re listening to is true? And worse, what if it’s not?

Social media influencers and contraception

“Mis- and dis-information around birth control and sexual health run rampant on social media,” mentioned Raegan McDonald-Mosley, M.D., MPH, CEO of the nonprofit group Power to Decide.

It might be even tougher to inform what’s reality vs. fiction when it appears like the data is coming from a trusted good friend. Social media influencers — folks with numerous followers — can play an element in swaying opinions about birth control. And destructive private experiences can lead folks to unfold misinformation.

For instance, one study discovered that influencers who had a destructive tone about hormonal contraception exaggerated the dangers and unintended effects in comparison with non-hormonal choices.

“Readers should be concerned because hormonophobia [fear about hormones based on irrational causes] can fuel misinformation and prevent women from making informed reproductive healthcare decisions,” mentioned Emily Pfender, an creator of the examine and Ph.D. candidate on the University of Delaware.

Another study co-authored by Pfender discovered that influencers who talked about stopping hormonal contraception didn’t discuss substitute choices. “This sends a message to viewers that using birth control is not important and could promote risky behavior,” Pfender mentioned. “When influencers did start a new birth control, it was most often fertility awareness-based methods, which have high error rates and require specific knowledge to use correctly.”

Social media and shared decision-making

When it comes to creating well being choices on your sexual and reproductive well being, it’s necessary to know the supply behind the data you’re taking in.

When unsure, McDonald-Mosley mentioned to ask your self the next questions:

  • Is the data from a reputable medical supply or supplier?
  • Can you discover the identical data from one other trusted useful resource?
  • When was the data you’re taking a look at printed?
  • Does the particular person’s perspective appear overly biased or political?

Robyn Faye, M.D., an OB-GYN and member of HealthyWomen’s Women’s Health Advisory Council, mentioned she turns to her trusted social community — science — when sufferers deliver up questionable theories. “I will pull up the latest articles from the CDC database and show them the information I have,” she mentioned. “I literally just have to argue the point and, in most cases, it works.”

Faye famous that the majority healthcare suppliers need to have an open dialog in regards to the unusual stuff you learn on social media. They need to take the time to share data and ask questions. This results in shared decision-making and discovering the very best contraception choice that works for you, your well being and your reproductive targets.

Still, it could be laborious to alter somebody’s opinion in the event that they really feel strongly about what they’ve learn on-line. This is completely wonderful, Faye mentioned. But she cautioned in opposition to placing an excessive amount of inventory in folks you don’t know.

Misinformation on social media can have a harmful impact on girls’s well being. But it doesn’t must be this fashion. Knowledge is energy, and confirming any data or issues along with your HCP may also help you see the entire image — not only a small sq..

McDonald-Mosley mentioned too many individuals lack total information about reproductive and sexual well being as a result of they by no means realized about it at school or the neighborhood. This is the place the constructive results of social media channels can shine by bridging the hole in accessible well being data.

“Social media is not all bad. It is, in fact, a powerful tool that can be used to reach people where they are with accurate information they need to take control of their reproductive and sexual health.”

You can’t belief all the things you learn on-line. But in case you do analysis and speak to your HCP, you’ll be able to defend your self from misinformation.

This useful resource was created with assist from Organon.

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