Academic journal article International Family Planning Perspectives

Pregnancy Intentions among Salvadoran Fathers: Results from the 2003 National Male Reproductive Health Survey

Academic journal article International Family Planning Perspectives

Pregnancy Intentions among Salvadoran Fathers: Results from the 2003 National Male Reproductive Health Survey

Article excerpt

CONTEXT: In El Salvador, fathers less commonly say that pregnancies are unintended than mothers do. However, men's pregnancy intentions are not understood as well as women's.

METHODS: Data from 425 fathers participating in the 2003 National Male Reproductive Health Survey of El Salvador were analyzed to examine their intentions in regard to partners' pregnancies that had ended in a live birth in the last five years. They were asked whether they had been trying to get their partner pregnant, how they had felt about the pregnancy and what they thought their partner's pregnancy intentions had been. Descriptive analyses were based on the most recent pregnancy reported by each man.

RESULTS: A quarter of the pregnancies had been unintended from the men's perspective--13% had been mistimed and 11% had been unwanted. Almost half (46%) of unintended pregnancies had been conceived when the father was trying to avoid pregnancy. However, 36% of men reporting an unintended pregnancy said they had been happy when they found out about it. For 20% of all pregnancies, men perceived that their partner's pregnancy intentions differed from their own.

CONCLUSIONS: Family planning services in El Salvador need improvement, and services and outreach should target men. Men's experiences with unintended pregnancies--in particular, contraceptive failure and discordance within couples about pregnancy intention--are complex and merit further investigation.

International Family Planning Perspectives, 2005, 31(4):179-182

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Today, national data from men about reproductive health knowledge, attitudes and behavior are available for more than 45 countries, and men are increasingly being included in smaller reproductive health studies. (1) Data from men are often compared with data from women to identify similarities and differences between the sexes and their group experiences. For example, in 21 of 41 countries with comparable data from the two sexes, married men reported that, on average, they wanted at least 0.5 more children than did married women. (2) In addition, levels of approval of family planning among married men were often higher than the levels derived from married women's reports about their husbands' attitudes. Such findings stimulate thinking about how men's and women's experiences differ and indicate the need to explore data gathered from men in more depth to understand their reproductive health attitudes and preferences.

Recent companion surveys of nationally representative, independent samples of Salvadoran men and women of reproductive age provide an opportunity to compare pregnancy intentions between sexes. Two types of pregnancies are conventionally categorized as unintended: those that were conceived earlier than was desired (mistimed) and those that were not wanted at the time of conception (unwanted). Unintended pregnancy is important insofar as it reflects an unmet need for family planning and the extent to which women and men have not fulfilled their child-bearing goals in terms of freely deciding the number and spacing of their children. (3) According to the survey of reproductive-age Salvadoran women, conducted in 2002-2003, 58% of recent pregnancies that ended in live births in the last five years were intended and 42% were unintended (18% mistimed and 24% unwanted). However, in the companion survey of reproductive-age men conducted in 2003, 75% of such pregnancies were intended and 23% were unintended (12% mistimed, 11% unwanted); for the remaining 2%, men's intentions were unknown. (4) This difference between men and women in reported pregnancy intentions raises many questions about the meaning and measurement of pregnancy desires and intentions in El Salvador, particularly among fathers, who have not often been the subject of studies of unintended pregnancy.

To explore unintended pregnancy among Salvadoran men, we examined additional contextual information about recent pregnancies reported by fathers in the male sample. …

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