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Is there a “misinformation explosion” around birth control?

Plus: Is legal cannabis actually safe?

Friday. Here is an interesting tidbit of information: Novo Nordisk sells Ozempic for around $968 a month. However, a new study (LINKED HERE) found that the popular diabetes/weight loss drug could be produced for less than $5 a month. How about that for a profit margin? 

Anywho, the Washington Post recently published an article titled:

So, what’s the “misinformation explosion” they are talking about exactly? Let’s dive in.

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Read Time: 4 minutes

Birth Control Otc GIF by Bedsider

Birth Control And Misinformation

According to the Washington Post, there is a “misinformation explosion” when it comes to female birth control. In the article (YOU CAN READ IT HERE), readers are led through a narrative asserting that social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram are rife with misleading content about hormonal birth control. Let’s start by agreeing on the fact that TikTik and Instagram are rife with misleading content about literally everything. 

The WaPo piece suggests that young women are being swayed by "influencers" and conservative voices to doubt the safety and efficacy of contraceptives. The article goes on to cite anecdotes of individuals attributing various health concerns to their birth control methods. 

The article does raise valid concerns about misinformation but, unfortunately, glosses over the nuanced reasons so many women seek alternatives to hormonal contraceptives. Even though it was a lengthy article, the authors completely failed to fully explore the complexity of the issue.

Why can’t we ever have nuanced conversations about health-related topics? Ugh. 

Critics of the WaPo argue that this portrayal is overly simplistic and dismissive of legitimate concerns many have with hormonal birth control. It's crucial to recognize that for countless women, the journey through reproductive health care is fraught with challenges. Many are prescribed birth control as a catch-all solution for symptoms that, in reality, may indicate underlying conditions that can take years and multiple provider visits to diagnose accurately.

Painful periods are one of the top reasons the pill is prescribed, and it can take up to ten years for a woman to get diagnosed with endometriosis. Acne & irregular periods are also top reasons doctors give women the pill, yet it takes, on average, two to three providers before someone gets a PCOS diagnosis. Also, the side effects of hormonal birth control are very real, and there is even some research that links the pill to poor mental health outcomes for young women (SEE IT HERE). 

Are we just supposed to ignore all that? Do we just slap a “misinformation” sticker on the lengthy side effects insert that comes with the pill and move on? 

This critique isn't about denying the utility of birth control or calling for its removal from the market. Instead, it highlights a broader issue within our healthcare system: a tendency to offer band-aid solutions without addressing underlying health concerns. It's a call for a more personalized approach to healthcare, one that listens to and validates women's experiences rather than dismissing them as mere victims of misinformation.

The narrative pushed by the WaPo article is so reductionist or, for lack of better words, just not cool. 

The pushback against the article underscores a desire for more comprehensive research into women's health issues and better birth control options. The current one-size-fits-all approach often leaves women feeling unseen and unheard. Why are we reducing women's healthcare experiences to a binary debate between uncritically accepting birth control or falling prey to misinformation? 

We are (once again) overlooking the nuances of individual health needs and the systemic failures to address them. 

This discussion goes beyond just birth control; it's about the right of women to share their health experiences without being labeled as misinformed or influenced by political agendas. Why does everything have to be boiled down to red versus blue? Women are seeking more from their healthcare providers than just prescriptions—they're asking for their problems to be taken seriously, for their symptoms to be thoroughly investigated, and for healthcare solutions that consider their well-being holistically. Is that really too much to ask for? 

The key takeaway? The outcry against the Washington Post's framing of the birth control discourse isn't an attack on birth control but a plea for a deeper, more empathetic engagement with women's health. It's a call to acknowledge the systemic shortcomings in how health issues are treated and to strive for a future where everyone’s voices are heard, their experiences are validated, and their health is prioritized. Wouldn’t that be nice? 

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