Contraception: don’t rely on the internet alone

Search for information online, on almost any topic, at any time. It’s a reflex for almost all of us. The problem is that the content found there is not always very reliable, especially when it comes to contraception. And that it increases the risk of unwanted pregnancies.

On the skin, in the kitchen, at home, in the garden… Naturalness is on the rise. This is also the case with contraception, noted American researchers from the University of Delaware, specialists in public health communication. They conducted an extensive survey of content from the YouTube platform to assess the nature of advice given by influencers on this topic.

The researchers thus identified about fifty videos in which influencers followed by between 20,000 and 2.2 million people talked about their experiences with contraception. Posted on YouTube between December 2019 and December 2021, these videos were then analyzed to assess influencers’ discussions of hormonal contraception, which includes the pill, implants and intramuscular injections, and non-hormonal contraception, such as condoms or apps. menstrual cycle tracking.

Stopping the pill

Surprisingly, banning hormonal contraception was one of the most frequently discussed aspects by content producers: 74% said they had banned or planned to do so. To justify this decision they have been called “The desire to be more natural (44%), to improve or protect their mental health (32%) and gain weight (20%)” attributed to this type of contraception.

At the same time, about 40% of influencers said they used or had already used non-hormonal methods of contraception, and in particular apps for tracking the menstrual cycle. Their arguments: they contribute to the prevention of pregnancies (22%), are a more natural method (16%) and create fewer side effects (4%).

basal temperature

For the study’s lead author, Emily Pfender, the popularity of these apps is problematic: firstly because they are much less reliable than hormonal contraception in preventing unwanted pregnancies. But also because influencers don’t mention it “the amount of effort and meticulous planning that cycle tracking requires.”

Thus, the researcher recalls, to be sure to avoid pregnancy, “Women should accurately measure their basal body temperature and cervical mucus viscosity at the same time each day, track their cycle length to calculate their fertile window, and abstain from intercourse on specific days of their cycle. theirs”.. Limitations that content producers don’t mention.

“Public Health Problem”

How much does this content affect those who watch it? What is the real power of the influencer recipe? This study does not say so, but others have shown that young people consider influencers to be very trustworthy, especially if they provide personal information that can strengthen the connection with their “followers”.

Hence this warning from Emily Pfender: she believes that “Influential videos that discourage the use of a highly effective birth control option and discourage the use of other forms of protection to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections pose a public health concern.”. It encourages young people to critically evaluate the health information they receive through social media and seek information from other sources.

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