We asked Senior Director of Education at Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Chrissy Cmorik, a few questions on how people who use birth control can keep themselves safe, find accurate information online, and what to keep in mind when consuming social media content about sexual and reproductive health care.
Q: There are a lot of videos circulating on social media about birth control…How can someone make sure they’re getting accurate information about the birth control options that some of these creators are talking about?
A: The National Institutes of Health website is a good place to start for reliable health information. The FDA or CDC websites are other options. As a rule, health websites sponsored by federal government agencies are accurate sources of information. You can reach all federal websites by visiting www.usa.gov. Medical and health care organizations, hospitals, and academic medical institutions may also be reliable sources of health information.
Q: There are some videos that have received thousands of views about birth control being bad for you…Can you unpack that for us?
A: According to medical experts, birth control is safe for healthy people with vaginas. However, there can be some risks of birth control that affect people with high blood pressure, history of blood clots, or who use tobacco products. It is important to note that, for healthy people with no medical condition impacted by birth control, the risks of taking birth control are less than the risks associated with pregnancy.
Q: What are some things that folks should keep in mind when consuming content about sexual and reproductive health on social media?
A: Since the pandemic we know that social media can contain great opportunities for micro-learning on an array of topics. But not all sites are medically accurate and some may have alternative agendas. Whenever we are consuming information, it is important that we are understanding who is distributing this information, are they associated with a medically accurate, bias-free organization, and what is the intent of their message.
Q: For teenagers and young adults searching online, what are your recommendations as a sexual health youth educator for finding evidence-based information on birth control?
A: I would recommend starting with organizations that are well known to be medically accurate, like the CDC, and branch out from there on who they follow or recommend.
For more information on different methods of birth control, you can also see Planned Parenthood’s side-by-side comparison here: