Male involvement in reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health.
A supportive male partner encourages his female partner to use contraceptives. The AIDS pandemic and the increasing rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) lend more importance to safer sexual practices and condom use. Male involvement programs address specific obstacles: men's disapproval of partners' use of contraception; increasing rates of STD/HIV infection and out-of-wedlock pregnancy; restrictions on condom advertising, promotion, and distribution; and underutilization of vasectomy services. Major obstacles to expanding male-involvement programs revolve around sociocultural considerations (e.g., men's fear of losing control), lack of political commitment, policy barriers (e.g., strict eligibility criteria for vasectomy), provider bias (e.g., programs oriented to women), and inadequate information. Well-targeted, focused male involvement programs can have a positive influence on both male and female reproductive health behaviors: more responsible sexual behavior, increased contraceptive use, and greater communication between partners. Program managers often have traditional assumptions about male involvement activities that hinder such activities. These assumptions are that men are difficult to reach, men are resistant to changes in their reproductive attitudes and behavior, and that male involvement activities increase the cost of services. Male reproductive health services can be provided at primary health care facilities, maternal and child health/family planning clinics, male-only clinics, STD clinics, mobile units, and military hospitals. Information, education, and communication need to be tailored to male audiences. Men respond to messages that promote positive role models, appeal to their economic interests, use personal testimonials, improve their self-image, and are funny. The messages can be delivered through interpersonal, community-based, and mass media approaches. A key lesson learned from male involvement programs is that male involvement activities should be integrated into overall program goals and strategies.