IUDs on TikTok: Lessons for Clinicians

Andrew M. Kaunitz, MD


January 25, 2023

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

As a popular social media app, TikTok facilitates sharing of brief videos. Many users are reproductive-aged women. In a recent study, investigators assessed the top 100 TikTok videos related to IUDs, examining video attributes using standardized scales to measure information quality and understandability.

These 100 videos had over 470 million views. Almost 90% of the video creators were female, with a similar proportion being from the United States.

More than one third of videos projected a negative tone regarding IUDs while fewer than 1 in 5 had a positive tone. The great majority of videos that addressed IUD placement or removal had a negative tone; almost all emphasized pain and other adverse effects.

While IUD videos scored high on understandability, they scored low on information quality.

In contrast with Twitter and YouTube, TikTok uses an algorithmic strategy based on user interests and demographics to determine which videos appear on users' personalized pages.

The popularity of negative and inaccurate videos indicates that users may be interested in viewpoints that differ from traditional patient-clinician communication. The emphasis that these videos place on pain experienced by IUD users should prompt us to prioritize communication regarding pain when helping patients choose contraceptive methods and pain-management techniques associated with IUD placement and removal.

Finally, the investigators note that healthcare professionals already constitute a substantial proportion of TikTok video creators. Going forward, provider-created videos can focus on information that helps potential IUD users better understand and anticipate pain associated with IUD use while providing accurate evidence-based information relevant to other aspects of intrauterine contraception.

I'm Andrew Kaunitz. Please take care of yourself, and each other.

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