Why are women’s health ads getting rejected?

Women’s health startups are struggling to get ads on social media platforms.

Selina Lee

A 2021 study by the Center for Intimacy Justice surveyed 60 health-oriented businesses serving women and people of diverse genders.

All had an ad rejected by Meta, and half said their accounts were suspended for supposedly violating policies.

Rejected ads included breastfeeding workshops and devices to strengthen the pelvic floor, which can prevent incontinence. Meanwhile, ads for erectile dysfunction and manscaping were allowed.

Why?

Meta labeled them as containing or promoting adult content or products, per The New York Times. Meta prohibits ads that promote sexual pleasure, but allows ads for family planning or sexual wellness.

A Meta spokesperson told the NYT that it sometimes makes mistakes when enforcing policies and has overturned several rejections. But Meta wouldn’t explain the reasoning behind some rejections, claiming people might try to bypass policies.

The last few years…

… have seen a boom in sexual wellness products and femtech. But according to Bethany Corbin, an attorney who specializes in health care and femtech, the algorithms haven’t caught up.

“I think part of it goes back to the long-term stigma and taboo that has surrounded all types of conversations about women’s health,” she told The Hustle.

She said she often sees ads banned when they’re not specifically about family planning, and a conflation between women’s health and being provocative.

And because anatomically correct terms are often flagged, advertisers are forced to use “cheeky” terms or fruit emojis — further reinforcing the stigma.

So, what’s next?

Continued conversions and awareness about women’s health to increase social acceptance and pressure platforms to retrain algorithms and moderators.

“It’s hard to demand that our advertising platforms change in a way that society hasn’t,” Corbin said.

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