Hesperian Health Guides

Making family planning work for the community

In this chapter:

Men must also be responsible for family planning

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When men and women choose family planning together, it is much easier to use family planning successfully. Because men do not get pregnant, they do not always take the responsibility that women do for pregnancy and family planning. Many men think of family planning as the woman’s problem.

Some men do not want their partners to use family planning. They may want lots of children, or they believe family planning is wrong, or they may feel that family planning is expensive or inconvenient to use and do not see any benefits to using it.

When men support the right of women to decide when and if they want to be pregnant, women can make the choice to use family planning if they want to. Then women and men can both have sex with less worry if they do not want a child.

As a midwife, you may be able to influence men in your community to take more responsibility for family planning. Explain how the number of children in the family can affect the health and well-being of every family member. Encourage men to:

  • use condoms.
  • support their partners in whatever family planning method they choose.
  • talk to other men in the community about the benefits of family planning.

Family planning programs that work

Midwives help individual women and men decide about family planning methods. While doing this, they may find that family planning is difficult to get in their communities. Midwives may then get involved in making family planning programs work better.

What makes a family planning program work to improve a woman’s health, her knowledge, and her control over her body?

  • A wide choice of methods, for both men and women, with clear information about benefits and risks.
  • Good testing to know if a woman has a health problem, such as high blood pressure, that means she should not use a certain method. Good follow-up care to make sure a method is not causing problems and to help the woman try another if it is.
  • Health services that include family planning along with care before, during, and after birth, support for breastfeeding, treatment for infertility, and treatment and prevention of STIs.
cartoon of a health worker with puppet strings being held by a man in a suit labeled "USAID, funders, drug companies, governments."
Health wokers should be free from pressure about which methods to offer women.
  • Encouragement for men and women to share responsibility for birth control.
  • Respect for local health providers and safe traditional practices, including traditional methods of regulating monthly bleeding and family planning. Midwives often have good experience combining traditional methods with modern methods of care.
  • Freedom from pressure and coercion. Coercion means a health worker or someone else pushes a woman to use family planning or a certain method when she does not want to. This happens when programs limit the choice of method or set targets (a certain number of one method must be given). Targets make health workers push people to accept a method against their will or without full information. These can be problems with family planning programs funded by large groups outside the community, such as international donors and national governments.

This page was updated:01 Mar 2024