National Men’s Health Week provides an opportunity to focus on men’s often-overlooked sexual and reproductive health needs. Just as is the case for women, men need a range of services and counseling for much of their lives to stay healthy, to help them do their part to prevent unplanned pregnancies and to equip themselves to be good partners and fathers.
Recent research by the Guttmacher Institute (as illustrated by our new infographic below) underscores this point by providing useful insights into the major reproductive health milestones in men’s lives: The typical American man born in 1980 first had sexual intercourse at age 17 and entered into a cohabiting union at around age 23. But he did not have his first child or get married until he was about 30 years old. The 13-year gap between first sex and having a first child in particular helps illustrate men’s substantial and long-term sexual and reproductive health needs. During this time and throughout their lives, men need access to contraceptive services and counseling as well as testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
One key source for U.S. men to obtain needed care, especially for those who are young or low-income, are publicly funded family planning centers, including those that receive funding through the federal Title X family planning program. Although publicly funded health centers focus on serving women, most also offer services to men. In 2010, 57% of centers directly provided STI services to men, half provided contraceptive services directly to men, and 34% provided physical exams to men. Still, relatively few men seek out this care: In 2012, only 8% of all of clients served by Title X-funded health centers were men.
There continue to be real barriers toward meeting men’s health needs, not the least of which is the lack of awareness that these needs exist. Help us highlight this situation as we mark National Men’s Health Week by sharing our infographic.