TikTok Reportedly Purging Videos Critical Of Hormonal Birth Control Following Washington Post “Hatchet Job” Linking Birth Control Skepticism To The “Far-Right”

Jack Hadfield

TikTok is reportedly scrubbing content posted that is critical of the impact of hormonal birth control on women and girls. The sudden clean-up follows a lengthy article by the Washington Post condemning the recent surge in young women announcing they were ditching their birth control in favor of more natural methods of contraception.

Last week, the Washington Post ran an article by Lauren Weber and Sabrina Malhi headlined: “Women are getting off birth control amid misinformation explosion.” The article warned about a “backlash to birth control [coming] at a time of rampant misinformation about basic health tenets amid poor digital literacy and a wider political debate over reproductive rights, in which far-right conservatives argue that broad acceptance of birth control has altered traditional gender roles and weakened the family.”

In the article, the Washington Post boasted that TikTok had removed “at least five videos linking birth control to mental health issues and other health problems after the Post asked how the company prevents the spread of misinformation.”

One of the videos was from influencer Nicole Bendayan, who argued that “certain forms of birth control could make users more susceptible to sexually transmitted infections.” While the article claimed that “experts” say there’s no “evidence” for such a statement, Bendayan highlighted in a video discussing the article that she had in fact referenced scientific literature on the topic.

The 2022 meta analysis that Bendayan referenced found a “significant increase” in the risk of the herpes simplex virus for women who took hormonal birth control, although a negative association with other STIs, suggesting a “diverse relationship” between birth control use and infections, adding that more research was needed. This was not mentioned in the Washington Post article.

Another video taken down was from the Daily Wire’s Brett Cooper, which attracted at least 219,000 likes before it was removed, where Cooper mentioned that it can change who you’re attracted to.

By contrast, a recent video from trans-identified male Dylan Mulvaney features Mulvaney appearing to inject himself with cross-sex hormones, promoting it to millions of younger fans. Despite the fact that this can have serious health impacts, the TikTok video remains up at the time of writing.

Brittany Martinez, the founder of online women’s outlet Evie Magazine, was also criticized in the article. Evie has published a number of articles about hormonal birth control, which have included stories of serious illnesses and even death as a result of taking the pill.

Speaking exclusively to The Publica, Martinez said that “women are getting off the pill in droves” after realizing that it may be harmful in many ways, both physically and mentally. Martinez also says that the “older reporters aren’t coming at this subject from an objective, medical perspective that emphasizes hormone health. They’re coming at it from an ideological one.” She adds that the Post‘s article was tantamount to “political fear mongering.”

Martinez pointed to the fact that women have felt like they were “socially conditioned” and “gaslit” by their doctors into not talking about the side effects of hormonal birth control. The story of Sarah Grimaldi, who ended up with blood clots in her lungs, was featured in the Washington Post article. In a later post to Instagram, she argued that the article brushed over her experiences with medical professionals ignoring her.

“When I had appointments with doctors and they would not answer my questions, or they would brush me aside… where else besides the internet am I supposed to turn to to answer these questions?” Grimaldi said.

“It becomes a domino effect where women with these experiences feel it’s safe and socially acceptable to speak up on social media without being silenced or mocked (although legacy media continues to be hellbent on doing that),” Martinez continued. “The female experience is something that bonds all women, and our cycles and hormone health affect so many aspects of our lives. Once you start to listen to your body, it’s hard to go back.”

The Washington Post further mentioned another venture by Martinez: 28, a menstrual cycle tracking app. One of the newest products from the 28 line is Toxic Breakup, a supplement which says it was “developed by holistic doctors and hormone experts to detoxify, replenish, and restore balance to your hormones after getting off birth control.”

Martinez told The Publica that she started 28 to “tackle the great hormone epidemic afflicting women,” arguing that it affects everything from fertility to quality of life. 

“Toxic Breakup isn’t just a product designed to help women detoxify and heal from the effects of hormonal birth control, it’s also symbolic of the way women feel about this subject,” Martinez said. “They’ve been in a toxic relationship [with hormonal birth control] for years.”

Following the publication of the Washington Post’s article, which Martinez slammed in a post on X as being a “hatchet job,” Toxic Breakup was removed from the TikTok shop, despite it being approved ahead of launch.

“Given the timing of the piece and its sudden removal, it would be an extreme coincidence given TikTok Shop’s prior support,” Martinez said.

“You have to get supplements pre-approved on TikTok Shop. You can’t just upload and start selling. Back in December, we were connected with a global rep who oversaw Toxic Breakup’s approval. They were excited to have our birth control detox on the platform.”

Martinez further noted that “countless” women had been posting about their negative experiences with the pill on TikTok, where it remains a “popular” subject, and that the representative for TikTok shop was “incredibly supportive” before the Washington Post article.

While Toxic Breakup has now been taken off the shop, other supplements remain up and being sold despite “crazy claims” from promoters, Martinez said. She told The Publica that some of the claims she saw for other products included being healed from stage four cancer, and that she had even seen cases of the impersonation of medical professionals.

“All of the ingredients in Toxic Breakup have been clinically studied and used for ages to support liver detoxification, promote menstrual health, and support hormonal balance,” Martinez said. “We supplied all the studies, the packaging follows all regulatory guidelines regarding claims, and the manufacturing process (in the US) is very strict.”

She continued: “The question that’s worth asking is why does TikTok want to prevent women (who have already made a personal choice to get off hormonal birth control due to their own lived experience) from freely accessing a product designed to help them? The only reasonable explanation is that this is targeted.”

Martinez concluded by condemning legacy media outlets for continuing to “gaslight and shame millions of women” who choose reproductive alternatives over the pill.

“They don’t care about women. They care more about protecting the pharmaceutical industry that pays them and turning a women’s health issue into a political weapon when it isn’t political at all.”

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