This issue of Pulse spans the boundaries of our maternal and child health world and addresses a critical topic of the impacts men have on reproductive health; a topic of international interest. Research demonstrates that the role of men in reproductive health impacts the health of the male, family planning choices, and pregnancy outcomes, including the future health status of the child.
We tend to parcel reproductive health into segments with a separate focus on women and men and often create gender imbalances. By doing this, we ignore the social and behavioral changes that are needed to slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases; prevent unintended pregnancies; foster safe motherhood; practice responsible fatherhood; and develop healthy children. We harbor false assumptions about why men are not engaged more fully in reproductive health issues, including their reluctance to participate in effective reproductive health strategies. We fail to recognize the need for effective interpersonal communication and role modeling. Research demonstrates that men respond to messages that promote positive role models, appeal to their economic interests, use personal testimonials, and are funny.
It is time to move out of our comfort zone and address the social, cultural, structural issues that affect reproductive health. This issue will provide you data and evidence around effective reproductive health and offer some promising practices that are used by our maternal and child health colleagues in partnership with others. I also hope that it will stimulate your interest to read more of the research, including proceedings from the World Health Organization and the Guttmacher Institute.