Manila, Philippines, September 2011 – It is only after men marry as a result of an unplanned pregnancy do they learn about modern forms of family planning (FP) from their wives, who solicit advice from other women and healthcare professionals.
This is one of the conclusions derived from the paper Male Involvement in FP: A Qualitative Inquiry* by Dr. Clarissa C. David, part of a research project called The Effects of Male Involvement in Family Planning Decisions. The project seeks to explore the influences of men on family planning-related decisions, including FP method choice and fertility decisions. The study is funded by the Philippine Center for Population and Development (PCPD) through the UP College of Mass Communication Foundation, Inc. (UP-CMCFI).
The paper further explains that men’s roles in selecting what family planning method to use depends on a.) the stage of the relationship they are in, b.) whether they are married, and c.) whether they already have a child. The group that is in fact the most at-risk – young, unmarried men – tend to use unreliable forms such as the withdrawal method. Surprisingly, research found that this group actually wants to use effective FP methods but does not believe them to be among their choices. For example, they believe that birth control pills are only for married couples while condoms are ‘disrespectful’ to their partners and compromise sexual pleasure. Injectable contraceptives and natural family planning are methods they have never heard of before.
To educate men about family planning options and intervene at their most at-risk stage, the paper recommends:
- Teaching them about modern FP methods from a male perspective
- Openly discussing that it is entirely possible to have a sexual relationship while diminishing the risk of an unplanned pregnancy
Quoting from Male Involvement in FP: A Qualitative Inquiry: “The key is to educate the right men, about the right things, at the right time in their lives.
“The lessons should be about reproductive health in the context of personal life decisions. It is critical that education should include open discussions on sexuality, relationships, and opportunities for boys to ask direct questions and get direct answers about contraception.”
Contact: Ms. Fely Rixhon, Executive Director, PCPD
Tel: (63 2) 843 4061 Fax: (63 2) 894 4696
Access The Effects of Male Involvement in Family Planning Decisions research reports at www.pcpd.ph
*Methodology: This paper uses qualitative data from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) among Filipino men, women, and couples that were conducted for an earlier research project in 2007. A total of 143 people were interviewed for the earlier study and 66 of them were male. The recruitment criteria included being sexually active, defined as being currently sexually active or having had sex at least a few times in their life. All informants belong to poor segments of the population. The final sample of men (n=66) included farmers, construction workers, informally and intermittently employed agricultural laborers, restaurant workers, drivers, and a few who were unemployed.
On average, the final sample of male participants had an average monthly household income of P4,000. More than half (53%) reached high school, 28% had some form of vocational or college education, while the rest (19%) only reached elementary school. On average, they are 25 years old, have 3 children, and started cohabiting or are married at the age of 21.
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