Family planning is simply being able to decide on when to have children, how many children to have and the spacing between them. It is a concept that is very important for individuals or couples who are sexually active. Family planning is not a women’s issue only; men too have a role to play in family planning.
By practising family planning, population growth can be controlled (so, available resources can be distributed more effectively and efficiently); parents can give better attention to their children; and perhaps most importantly, women’s health is improved, and infant mortality rates are reduced.
There are many ways in which men can contribute to family planning, including:
- Supporting their partners in a family planning method that best suits her,
- Keeping track of his partner’s fertile days, and
- Promoting family planning by educating other men about its importance.
The focus of this article is on one of the best and most direct ways that men can use to participate in family planning; that is the use of family planning methods available to them.
What family planning methods are available to men?
- Use of condoms: Male condoms are the most common method of family planning for men. They prevent sperm from reaching and fertilising the egg. Apart from preventing pregnancy, condoms also help to prevent sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, gonorrhoea and HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). Condoms will however only work effectively if used correctly; how a man wears a condom is important in preventing pregnancy. It also advisable to use a condom with a lubricant to prevent the condom from tearing inside a woman’s vagina during sex. Lubricants can be bought at a chemist or supermarket.
- Withdrawal: This involves a man not ejaculating inside a woman’s vagina but instead, away from the vagina such that the sperm do not enter the vagina at all. This is not a reliable method of family planning.
- Vasectomy: This method is a permanent type of family planning for men and so is only advisable for men who are either done with having children or do not want to have children at all. It is a minor procedure that involves stopping the supply of sperm to the semen by cutting and tying the vas deference (the tube in the scrotum that allows the passage of sperm).
To learn more about the risks of vasectomy and how to plan for it; and to learn more about other, less common, methods of male family planning, click the link below (insert link to family planning methods for men in the family planning section).