Top IUD TikTok Videos Often Portray Painful Experiences, Health Care Mistrust


By Alexis Porter, Duke Health News Office

Popular TikTok videos related to intrauterine devices (IUDs) tend to depict negative patient experiences related to pain, while some videos conveyed unreliable information about the contraceptive devices.

Duke Health researchers Jonas Swartz, MD, MPH, medical director of Family Planning and Ryan Program Director, and Jenny Wu, MD, Duke Ob/Gyn resident, led the study published Dec. 6, 2022, in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The researchers used a web application to download and compile information on the top 100 most viewed TikTok videos tagged #IUD. These videos often portrayed personal experiences with IUDs.

Of the videos analyzed, 37.8% had a negative tone, 19.4% had a positive tone; 27.6% mentioned a distrust of health care professionals and 24.4% contained moderately or highly inaccurate scientific claims.

Montage of TikTok notification and women looking at phones

“Many patients are getting information about reproductive health from TikTok so, as a clinician, it’s eye-opening to see that a majority of videos had a negative narrative,” Dr. Swartz said. “I want my patients to get a full spectrum of information but also accurate information.”

The most common topic covered in patient experience videos was IUD insertion and removal, where patients often highlighted negative experiences with pain control, felt they didn’t have adequate anesthesia and experienced side effects.

“For health care professionals, knowing what patients see on TikTok can be key in dispelling misinformation and setting expectations when it comes to patient care. Now I almost always ask my patients, ‘did you watch videos on TikTok’ because it helps me tailor my counseling,” Dr. Swartz said.

“I don’t want getting an IUD to be a traumatic experience for patients,” Dr. Wu added. “I recognize that pain — particularly pain related to pelvic exams — is complex, influenced by many factors, and different for every person. That’s why it’s important to me that our patients, especially our young patients, be able to trust their gynecologists.”

Additional authors of the study include Esme Trahair and Megan Happ, two medical students at Duke University School of Medicine.

The study received funding support from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (K12HD103083).