More young people potentially at risk of unplanned pregnancy because of messaging from social media influencers

More young people could be at risk of becoming pregnant because of the messaging from social media influencers that non-hormonal birth control is the way to go.

New research from the United States found most YouTube influencers it studied talked about the benefits of coming off traditional birth control, like the combined oral contraceptive pill.

The research said young people could be more at risk of an unplanned pregnancy because of the birth control messages they're receiving from influencers.

"My goal of coming off the pill was not to get pregnant straight away, it was to really just reset my hormones and clear this out of my body before I even try," one influencer said in a video.

Experts from the University of Delaware analysed 50 recent YouTube videos from influencers who have up to 2.2 million followers.

They found 74 percent talked about stopping, or planning on stopping, hormonal contraception, and 40 percent said they were using or had used non-hormonal birth control, with fertility trackers the most popular method.

Family Planning said the only people who should be influencing someone's contraceptive choices are those with a medical qualification. 

High school principal Vaughan Couillauit knows students increasingly turn to social media for answers, but shouldn't do so in this case.

"In the same way I probably wouldn't ring the mechanic to look at my sore tooth, I probably wouldn't turn to the YouTube channel to get sexual health advice," he said.

The researchers stressed that videos discouraging the use of highly effective birth control, like IUDs and the pill, and failing to encourage other forms of protection, like condoms, to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections are a public health issue.

Couillault said there are other sources of expert help available for young Kiwis.

"Use their school nurse, their GP, or their sexual health clinics, all those sensible common sense responses would be better than a YouTube response," he said.

And if you're uncertain about your contraceptive choice, switch off your social media and make an appointment with a nurse or doctor.