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5 ways men can get in the game

Guys - contraception is a team effort!

Family planning and safe sex should be a team effort between couples, but most men are sitting on the side-lines. While overall use of modern contraceptives worldwide doubled between 1970 and 2015, the rates for men’s use of contraception have remained constant since the 1980s, according to a report by UNFPA partner Promundo.

Men account for just one-quarter of all contraceptive use, leaving women to bear a disproportionate burden for protecting their own health, and that of their partner. Since greater access to contraceptives means better health, choices and prosperity for all, contraception should be everyone’s responsibility. Here’s five ways that men can play a more equal role.

1. Buy and use condoms

Widely available and highly effective, condoms are the only means of contraception that provide reliable triple protection: from sexually transmitted infections (STIs), from HIV and from unintended pregnancies. Condoms have a stereotypical reputation among some men as “unmanly,” but what’s more manly than keeping yourself and your partner safe?

2. Learn about contraceptive options

Many men know little about sexual and reproductive health issues, including family planning. Learning about the pros and cons of different contraceptive methods is an important first step towards breaking down misinformation and communicating better with your partner.

3. Talk with your partner about contraceptive preferences

Not every contraceptive option is right for everyone. Talking about sexual and reproductive health-related topics, including contraceptives, helps bring couples closer together while identifying the methods that work best (and most pleasurably) for you both. Splitting the cost of contraceptives, or taking it out of your shared budget, and offering to go to doctor’s appointments together are other ways to share responsibility.

4. Talk to other men about contraceptives

Be a good role model for other men and help break down misinformed or negative attitudes or beliefs — such as the false idea that using contraception is unmanly, or causes infertility — by talking openly about condom use and how you share responsibility with your partner. Men who have opted for a vasectomy can also help combat myths around this contraceptive option by speaking openly about this method. And dads can take a more active role in parenting by talking with their children about contraception once they’re old enough.

5. Get check-ups, including STI tests

Seeing sexual and reproductive health as a woman’s responsibility leads many men to neglect their own well-being — putting them at greater risk of STIs, and worse outcomes for those who are HIV-positive. Visiting the doctor to discuss contraception and get tested for STIs is also a great opportunity to get information about important topics such as sexuality, sexual performance and infertility in a supportive, confidential environment.