In this handbook most chapters include a box, How Can a Partner Help?. The points in this box can be useful when counseling couples or helping a client get her partner’s support with her method.

Providers can give support and services to men both as supporters of women and as clients.

Encourage Couples to Talk

Couples who discuss family planning— with or without a provider’s help—are more likely to make plans that they can carry out. Providers can:

  • Coach men and women on how to talk with their partners about sex, family planning, and STIs.
  • Encourage joint decision-making about sexual and reproductive health matters.
  • Invite and encourage women to bring their partners to the clinic for joint counseling, decision-making, and care.
  • Encourage the man to understand and support his partner to choose the contraceptive method she prefers.
  • Encourage the man to consider taking more responsibility for family planning—for example, by using condoms or vasectomy.
  • Suggest to female clients that they tell their partners about health services for men. Give informational materials to take home, if available.

Provide Accurate Information

Couple Holding hands with balloon with boy walking between themTo inform men’s decisions and opinions, they need correct information and correction of
misperceptions. Topics important to men include:

  • Family planning methods, both for men and for women, including safety and effectiveness
  • STIs including HIV—how they are and are not transmitted, signs and symptoms, testing, and treatment
  • The benefits of waiting until the youngest child is 2 years old before a woman becomes pregnant again
  • Male and female sexual and reproductive anatomy and function
  • Safe pregnancy and delivery

Offer Services or Refer

Important services that many men want include:

  • Male condoms and vasectomy services
  • Information and counseling about other contraceptive methods, particularly methods that must have male cooperation, such as fertility awareness-based methods and female condoms
  • Counseling and help for sexual problems
  • STI/HIV counseling, testing, and treatment
  • Infertility counseling (see Infertility)
  • Screening for penile, testicular, and prostate cancer

Like women, men of all ages, married or unmarried, have their own sexual and reproductive health needs. They deserve good-quality services and respectful, supportive, and nonjudgmental counseling.