Stud Fam Plann. 2015 Jun;46(2):201-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1728-4465.2015.00024.x.

Men's perspectives on their role in family planning in Nyanza Province, Kenya

Withers M, Dworkin SL, Onono M, Oyier B, Cohen CR, Bukusi EA and Newmann SJ


Research has indicated that gender dynamics – and in particular men's disapproval of family planning – have had an influence on the low levels of contraceptive use in sub-Saharan Africa. Limited evidence exists, however, on effective strategies to increase male approval. We conducted 12 focus group discussions with married men aged 20-66 (N = 106) in Kenya to explore FP perceptions. Men's disapproval of FP was associated with anxieties regarding male identity and gender roles. Men often distrusted FP information provided by their wives because they suspected infidelity or feared being viewed as "herded." Men also feared that providers might pressure them into vasectomies or into disclosing extramarital sexual activity or HIV diagnoses to their wives. Suggested strategies include programs targeting couples jointly and FP education for men provided by male outreach workers. To encourage men's acceptance, community-based programs directly targeting men are needed to reduce stigma and misconceptions and to increase awareness of the benefits of FP.

Comment: In certain cultures it is extremely important to include the male partner in discussions about family planning. Especially indicating not only the health benefits, but also the economic advantages of birth spacing and contraception will appeal to the men. (HMV)