Use of male methods of contraception worldwide

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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This article analyses male contraceptive use, both globally and for developing countries. Shares of all contraceptive use due to males are examined, in the context of female use and all use. Patterns according to wealth quintiles are analysed, as well as time trends and geographic variations. Data are drawn primarily from compilations by the UN Population Division and from the Demographic and Health Series and subjected to relatively simple statistical methods including correlation/regression applications. Contraceptive methods that men use directly, or that require their co-operation to use, including condoms, withdrawal, rhythm and male sterilization, account for one-quarter of all contraceptive use worldwide. This represents 13% of married/in-union women. Both the share and the prevalence of male methods vary widely by geography and by the four methods, as well as by quintile wealth groups. With greater wealth there is an unbroken rise for total use; among the male methods, the shares of condom use and rhythm rise by wealth quintiles, while the share of withdrawal drops. The share for male sterilization is highest in the lowest and highest wealth quintiles and dips for the middle quintiles. The overall time trend since the 1980s has been steady at one-quarter of all use involving men; moreover, the share is about the same at all levels of total use. The female-only methods continue to dominate: female sterilization, IUD, pill, injectable and implant, again with great diversity geographically. In surveys men report less total use but more condom use, while females report more injectable use. For the future the male share of one-quarter of use seems secure, with little prospect of an increase unless concerted programmatic efforts are made to expand access to male methods and promote their use as part of a broadened contraceptive method mix.