The role of men in contraceptive decision-making: current knowledge and future implications.
Few studies have looked at men's attitudes about contraception and pregnancy. The epidemic of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases and high rates of unwanted pregnancy among teenagers have made researchers and program directors begin to focus on the male's role in decision making. The Alan Guttmacher Institute held a meeting of researchers, policymakers, and program directors in September 1993 to address male involvement in contraceptive decision making. Participants had different goals and priorities based on their experience. Some believed that the limited research in the US does not support men's involvement in contraception. They were also troubled with how to define and measure their involvement as well as how to determine what type of involvement will have a positive effect. Other participants thought that enough data exist to show that male involvement is a positive and necessary. For example, a study of 1200 males, 15-18 years old, who viewed a slide program on sexual health showed that, at 1 year follow-up, the partners of these males were more likely to be using oral contraceptives than before the intervention. Interventions can mitigate sexual impatience, a strong indicator of intention to have intercourse without using a contraceptive method. Few programs provide reproductive health services for males, however. It appears that an integrated approach to male involvement is needed. Some participants supported school-based clinics as a venue to involve male adolescents in contraceptive decision making. Other participants pointed out that major cultural and economic changes need to take place before males will assume more responsibility for their role in reproduction.