Journal Article

Are men well served by family planning programs?

Although the range of contraceptives includes methods for men, namely condoms, vasectomy and withdrawal that men use directly, and the Standard Days Method (SDM) that requires their participation, family planning programming has primarily focused on women. What is known about reaching men as contraceptive users? This paper draws from a review of 47 interventions that reached men and proposes 10 key considerations for strengthening programming for men as contraceptive users. A review of programming shows that men and boys are not particularly well served by programs. Most programs operate from the perspective that women are contraceptive users and that men should support their partners, with insufficient attention to reaching men as contraceptive users in their own right. The notion that family planning is women’s business only is outdated. There is sufficient evidence demonstrating men’s desire for information and services, as well as men’s positive response to existing programming to warrant further programming for men as FP users. The key considerations focus on getting information and services where men and boys need it; addressing gender norms that affect men’s attitudes and use while respecting women’s autonomy; reaching adolescent boys; including men as users in policies and guidelines; scaling up successful programming; filling gaps with implementation research and monitoring & evaluation; and creating more contraceptive options for men.