Despite the growing body of evidence on use of modern contraceptives among women in sub-Saharan African countries, little is known about the broader context in which female decision-making concerning contraceptive use occurs, particularly the role of their male partners’ awareness and support of modern contraceptives.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 2468 pregnant women and their male partners enrolled in the Healthy Beginning Initiative (HBI), an intervention to increase HIV testing among pregnant women in Enugu, southeast Nigeria. The aims of this study were to determine: 1) male partners’ awareness of, and support for, female contraceptive methods, and 2) influence of male partners’ contraceptive awareness and support on pregnant women’s expressed desire to use contraception. We used logistic regression models to examine the association between male partners’ awareness and support of modern contraceptives on their spouses’ desire to use contraceptives.
Men’s awareness of, and support for, use of modern contraceptives were significantly associated with their female partners’ desire to use contraception. A majority of the men who were aware of modern contraceptives (66.5 %) and those who supported their spouses’ use of contraception (72.5 %) had partners who expressed a desire to use contraception. Men who were aware of female contraception were 3 times more likely to have spouses who desired to use contraception (AOR = 3.17, 95 % C.I: 2.70–3.75). In addition, men who showed support for their spouses’ use of contraception were over 5 times more likely to have spouses who indicated a desire to use contraception (AOR = 5.76, 95 % C.I: 4.82–6.88). Living in a household of 5 or more people (AOR = 1.45, 95 % C.I: 1.23–1.72) and residing in an urban area (AOR = 0.81, 95 % C.I: 0.67–0.97) were also significantly associated with women’s expressed desire to use modern contraception.
Men’s awareness of, and support for, use of modern contraceptives were markedly associated with their spouses’ desire to use contraception. This underscores the need for men’s involvement in programs that seek to address women’s uptake of contraception in low and middle income countries.