Percent of men who support the use of modern contraception for themselves or their partners

The percentage of men who support the use of modern family planning (FP) methods for their own use or for their partners’ use.

"Supportive" can be operationally defined as attitudes toward use of modern FP method, responses to hypothetical situations, and reported actions/behaviors.

Modern methods of contraception are hormonal pills, female and male sterilization, intrauterine device (IUD), injectable, male and female condoms, diaphragm, foam/jelly, and emergency contraception.  In contrast, traditional or ‘non-modern’ methods are periodic abstinence, withdrawal and folk methods.

A proposed question is, “Do you support the use of modern contraception for yourself or your partner?”

This indicator is calculated as:

(Number of men who support their own or partners’ use of modern contraception/ Total number of men surveyed ) x 100

Responses to structured or in-depth interviews. Evaluators can assess men’s level of support for their own or partners’ use of modern FP methods using three types of questions: attitudes; responses to hypothetical situations; and reported actions.  Where the detail is available, the indicator can be disaggregated by the specific types of modern FP methods the men support, as well as by relevant socioeconomic and demographic factors, such as, men’s age, education level, income, and urban/rural residence.

Surveys among the male clientele at health facilities or other men’s reproductive health sites (program-based) or among the men in the general public (population based). Alternative sources are surveys among the spouses and partners of participants in male-focused programs. 

The DHS male questionnaire measures men’s type of method use in parallel with the women’s questionnaire that measures their type of method. The DHS surveys allow categorization of actual use of modern versus non-modern FP methods for men and women as individuals and linked as partners.

Modern methods of contraception are generally recognized as more effective than traditional methods, and men’s support of modern method use for themselves or their partners can facilitate planning and spacing pregnancies with accompanying benefits for maternal and infant health.  Modern method use can also give men and women greater confidence in their ability to make decisions about their fertility and child bearing.  Men can become involved in FP decision-making and method use by supporting their partners in their use of modern methods.  Although some argue that this type of involvement does not go far enough, in societies where males have withheld support, backing their partners in using modern methods can represent an important step forward.

One expects that responses for this indicator will become more favorable as a result of interventions directed toward male involvement. 

The answers to this question are subject to bias, especially if men are aware that their attitudes or behaviors deviate from socially accepted responses. They may try to respond in a way they expect will please the interviewer, so it is best if the interviewer asks this question in a neutral, matter-of-fact way. An alternative approach is to interview women about their spouses’ and partners’ attitudes and behaviors regarding modern FP. However, such accounts may be biased if the women know that the men participate in male-focused activities and anticipate changes in their behavior.

There may be differences in men’s support for the various kinds of modern FP methods. For example, men may be more supportive of their partners’ using an IUD than hormonal methods or sterilization, or men may support their own use of condoms by not vasectomy.  Disaggregation by the different types of modern FP methods will allow examination of these differences.

access, attitude, family planning, male engagement

Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020. (n.d.). Glossary of family planning indicators [Adaptation]. Retrieved from