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Manila,Philippines, September 2011 – Men are aware of the practicality and desirability of having a small family, but they are not equipped with the knowledge of family planning (FP) methods to prevent pregnancy, a research report found.
Written by Dr. Clarissa C. David, the report Male Involvement in FP: A Qualitative Inquiry* furthermore found that the societal expectation on men to lead and take charge of their relationships (along with, ironically, low expectations of achievement) are dangerous when added to their sorely insufficient knowledge of reproductive health and a tendency toward sexually risky behavior in their late teens.
“…[Y]oung men think that they are in charge of [avoiding pregnancies], and unfortunately they just do [the] withdrawal [method] continuously until it fails. Women let the men bear full responsibility, to their disadvantage, as a result they engage in unprotected sex earlier than they would like,” the report stated.
It is only after men have a child and get married do they relinquish the responsibility of family planning to their wives, who receive advice on more effective FP methods from fellow women and health workers. “In general then, it is a bad idea to put men in the driver’s seat when choosing a method to avoid pregnancy before marriage or before the first child is conceived,” the paper concludes.
The paper’s findings expose a deep need to educate unmarried and sexually active men and women about reproductive health and FP. Specifically, the paper recommends that young men and women need to know “about risks of pregnancy in clinical terms, with concrete information about the odds of pregnancy, and with skills development for negotiating contraceptive use and delayed sexual debut.”
For young men especially, reproductive health must be discussed in the context of their personal life decisions. Discussions on sexuality must be open to afford boys and young men the opportunity to ask direct questions and receive direct answers about contraception. “The key is to educate the right men, about the right things, at the right time in their lives,” the paper recommended.
Male Involvement in FP: A Qualitative Inquiry is part of a research project called The Effects of Male Involvement in Family Planning Decisions, which 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 UPCollege ofMass Communication Foundation, Inc. (UP-CMCFI).
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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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