Medical Xpress article doesn't provide source for claim that birth control pill use is declining due to mental health side effects
In this news article, Bethany Ao from Medical Xpress discusses the implications of birth control pill use by women and its mental health side effects by presenting statistics from one source, the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the anecdotal accounts of University of Pennsylvania student Sophia DuRose and C.W. Kennedy. According to Ao, there is a lack of research and knowledge with regards to the mental health side effects of birth control.
Ao reports that based on statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, oral contraceptives are “one of the most popular birth control methods” and in their 2013 National Health Statistics Report, states that more than half of the women have stopped using oral contraceptives due to its side effects. This is the only statistical evidence present in the article, and thus is not sufficient enough to exaggerate it in the title of this article. Ao also reports on neuroradiologist Michael Lipton, who studied the effect oral contraceptives have on the hypothalamus, a key area in the brain that regulates emotions and sleep cycles, amongst other important functions. A 2019 study by Lipton on how women were described to have a smaller hypothalamus as a result of taking a birth control pill that contains the hormones progestin and estrogen was stated by Ao. This is one of the claims stated within the article, yet there is no direct access provided nor primary evidence to any of the research claims made by the scientists named.
Additionally, Ao reports anecdotal references of two individuals who have both reported undesirable mental health side effects from consumption of the oral contraceptives. This does not portray a view of a general population at large, such that only two negative recounts were presented. While there are personal accounts and a variety of research claims stated within the article, there is very little concrete evidence provided and statistics that can support or prove that the decline in usage of oral contraceptives may be due to adverse mental health side effects, as reported by Ao. This negatively impacts the credibility of the article from a scientific standpoint.
In hindsight, the language used in this news article is well done, allowing for an easy read to their target audience. Overall, this article does not illustrate a well supported scientific news article, due to the lack of primary evidence and accessible research sources negatively impacting its credibility as a whole. Changes to the aforementioned flaws will greatly improve the credibility of this news article.
*As a precursor to this review, it should be noted that this article is not associated with a scientific research publication and rather, has associations with scientific research without reporting on a specified article. For the purpose of this review, opinions are derived through the SciFeye index criteria however, some sections remain incompatible with this index and have thus, been omitted from the respective index.
Author Bethany Ao reports on the implications of birth control in mental health side effects using foundations of anecdotal evidence from current student at the University of Pennsylvania, Sophia DuRose, and another individual, C.W. Kennedy. Oral contraceptives are reported to be “one of the most popular birth control methods” however, Ao illuminates that the use of birth control by women has declined as of recently.
Arguably, this article emphasizes a minor point sharing one source of statistical evidence, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to support the headline. Additionally, the author over-emphasizes the aforementioned anecdotal evidence and directly correlates this drastic drop of use in a larger sample population from the two individuals interviewed. While these two individuals have both experienced negative mental health side effects from personal use and experience, and extensive research has been shared within the article regarding the negative side-effects oral contraceptives may confer, there is little to no statistical evidence supporting the correlation between mental health and decline of birth control usage for the general population.
Ao, while admittedly taking a newspaper-stance in reporting, cherry-picks results from a variety of sources. This directly has an impact on the scientific credibility of this article as it does not reflect an objective stance in which both known and unknown information is reported on. Notably, while many claims are cited within the body, there is no primary evidence or access to the research of these “leading experts” within the article.
With all this in mind, the author consistently uses an appropriate vernacular for the intended audience and makes an effort to define any terms that may be unfamiliar to readers.
Overall, this article is not representative of the scientific process or literature and is not an overarchingly reliable source of current scientific progress. Several changes should be made to improve major flaws, and specific research should be reported on and cited, to improve the credibility of this article.
The views expressed by the reviewers for this article are not endorsed or shared by SciFeye. The interpretation of the review of the news story using the SciFeye Index was done independently by two SciFeye reviewers. We encourage you to conduct your own evaluation of the accuracy and quality of the news story using the Index.