NEWS

How One OB-GYN Is Empowering the Latinx Community on TikTok

Ali Rodriguez

Courtesy of Ali Rodriguez

Dr. Ali Rodriguez, also known as The Latina Doc, is an OB-GYN who uses multiple online platforms to educate people about reproductive health and contraception. On social media, Rodriguez shares invaluable information about sex, periods, and pregnancy with millions of people, empowering them to become educated about their health and body.

Health-related misinformation is rampant on social media—a phenomenon that's only worsened throughout the pandemic. But some experts are taking matters into their own hands and using their online platforms to share essential information within their communities while debunking myths related to health and wellness. Arizona-based OB-GYN Ali Rodriguez, MD, is doing just that.

Rodriguez, who has 1.4 million followers on TikTok (as well as large followings on Instagram and YouTube), uses her platform to answer questions, discredit misinformation, and share important tips related to reproductive health. On Rodriguez’s page, no issue is too taboo to be addressed. And she manages to join in on the app’s latest trends and dances, too.

Verywell spoke with Rodriguez about how she empowers her community, online and off, to take control of their reproductive health through education.

Verywell: What inspired you to start sharing information about reproductive health on TikTok?

Rodriguez: I’ve always loved teaching and sharing my knowledge as an OB-GYN with my family and friends. When I was an OB-GYN resident, I would occasionally share information on my personal Instagram, whether it was common questions I would get from patients in the office or topics I wanted to discuss that day. At that point, I didn’t have a large following, but I was receiving positive feedback. 

Once the pandemic and quarantine started, I downloaded TikTok (just like everyone else) and I saw it as an opportunity to make fun trending dance videos while sharing women’s health and reproductive health information. The topics I discuss and questions I answer on TikTok are all questions I hear from my patients or people in my direct messages.

I see the need to openly talk about these topics regularly, without shame, without fear, without hesitancy—because these are real concerns that individuals have. I want to make sure they are getting their answers from a reputable source. 

Verywell: How do you empower Latinx people to learn about reproductive health and contraception in your work?

Rodriguez: Being a Latina, I personally understand the stigma surrounding the topic. Reproductive health is something that is not talked about—everything is swept under the rug. We’re expected to figure it out on our own. I remember as a teenager having questions and feeling shame for wanting to discuss periods, my sexual health, and birth control. I’m using my platform to break this stigma.

My blog is written in both Spanish and English. I film TikToks in Spanish and you can catch me speaking Spanish in my stories. As an OB-GYN and Latina, it is also important for me to work with partners who are dedicated to improving women’s lives, particularly women of color and Spanish-speaking communities.

Foundation Consumer Healthcare, the maker of Plan B One-Step emergency contraception, is committed to increasing education and access to emergency contraception and places this at the forefront of their initiatives. I am proud to be a part of their efforts to support this critical women’s health product.

Verywell: What are some of the common barriers you witness when treating Latinx patients?

Rodriguez: By far it’s the lack of information and amount of misinformation surrounding reproductive health. I believe this is correlated to the negative stigma that these topics have within the Latinx community. Since these topics are not openly talked about, people do not ask questions, or they get their information from friends or Facebook and this leads to misinformation and myths. 

For example, I know firsthand that there is a lot of misinformation about a range of sexual health topics—including emergency contraception. Plan B is an important backup option for women to help prevent pregnancy before it starts after unprotected sex or should their primary birth control method fall through.

So it’s crucial that women know the facts about what it is, how it works, where to get it, and when to take it. Through my partnership with Plan B, my goal is to inform my audience and encourage a positive narrative around emergency contraception to ultimately help women feel confident in their choice to use Plan B, should they need it.

Verywell: What do you think can be done to address these barriers? 

Rodriguez: I would love to see an improvement in sexual education in schools. We should not feel awkward or uncomfortable talking about our bodies. We should encourage people to ask questions and empower them to learn how their bodies work. We should openly discuss birth control options, sex, periods, pregnancy; the more we educate the more empowered people feel.

There is so much misinformation surrounding emergency contraception in particular—not only around how it works, but how to access it. Most people don’t realize that Plan B is available right off the shelf at major retailers, without a prescription, ID, or specific age requirement. As I always say: knowledge is power.

Verywell: Are there any concerns that you hear from Latinx patients that are different from other patients that you work with?

Rodriguez: From my experience, there are more concerns regarding birth control within the Latinx community. There’s a lot of misinformation and myths regarding how birth control works that then make patients scared to start taking it. I encourage all my Latinx patients and followers to ask questions and become educated from a reputable source before believing everything they hear. 

Verywell: Are there any other interesting or important trends you see in your work?

Rodriguez: I see a lot of patients who are embarrassed or scared to ask questions about their bodies when I see them in the office. I want to remind everyone that as an OB-GYN I am here for you. There is no question too embarrassing to ask. I love when patients write down their questions and come prepared for their appointments. This is exactly why I am here—to help you get to know your body and understand how everything works together.

Understanding how our bodies work is extremely necessary. It’s your body and if you do not care for it, who will? When we become educated, we are then empowered to make the right decisions for our body—because remember, medicine is not something where “one size fits all.”

The more we know, the better we get at planning our lives, avoiding disease or infections, practicing safe sex, and advocating for ourselves. 

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