Medicines watchdog warns about contraception misinformation on social media
The Medicines Evaluation Board (MEB) is warning young women about misinformation regarding contraception on social media. "The influence of influencers is significant, sometimes with negative consequences. I find that concerning," said Chairman Ton de Boer.
In response to non-scientific stories shared on some TikTok or Instagram accounts, the MEB compiled a list of facts and myths about birth control. This initiative by the governmental agency coincided with World Contraception Day, which takes place worldwide on September 26 every year.
The MEB noted for example that they often come across instances of women relying solely on apps to track menstrual cycles or daily temperature measurements to identify their fertile period, often because they want to avoid synthetic hormones in their bodies. "While it's beneficial to understand your body better, please don't rely solely on these methods if you don't want to get pregnant," said MEB member Janneke Belo. "The risk of pregnancy can be as high as 20 percent."
The medicines watchdog emphasized that the hormones in contraceptive pills are very similar to the body's natural hormones and are not harmful.
According to the MEB, there are many claims on social media about various contraceptive methods proven to be effective, such as birth control pills, copper IUDs, and hormonal IUDs. "These claims aren't always true, or sometimes the truth is more nuanced," the MEB said.
For example, there is a notion that birth control pills lead to weight gain. The MEB explained that hormonal contraception can cause the body to retain a bit more water due to the hormones, which might result in a temporary weight increase of up to half a kilo. "However, after a few months, the body adjusts to the hormones. The retained water disappears, and so does the added weight,” they wrote.
Contraceptives can also impact emotions. On the one hand, hormonal methods lead to fewer significant hormone fluctuations in the blood, which can reduce emotional swings. However, mood swings are also a noted potential side effect of hormonal methods. “Everybody is different. What works well for one person may be less suitable for another,” Belo said. The MEB also pointed out that tender or painful breasts and acne can be unwanted side effects of the pill, for instance.
According to the medicines watchdog, only 1 to 10 percent of users experience these kinds of side effects. In contrast, these methods offer over 99 percent protection against unwanted pregnancies.
Reporting by ANP