Racial disparities in unmet need for family planning among men ages 15–44 in the United States

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved

Publication Date


Date Added



The Healthy People 2020 goal with respect to family planning is to improve pregnancy planning and spacing, and prevent unintended pregnancy in the United States.1 Several studies have documented that men were underserved in terms of sexual and reproductive health care service utilization and prompted advocacy for such services.2,3,4 This suggests that unmet family planning needs of men and the role they have in family formation require further investigation. The literature on the issues of sexual and reproductive health of men has primarily focused on men’s sexual behavior and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.5,6,7 In the U.S., these studies have shown men to be at risk for poor health outcomes, as they are more likely than women to engage in risky sexual health behaviors and initiate sexual experiences at earlier ages. Another study documented that men start engaging in sex at earlier ages, with the average age of first sexual intercourse being 17.8 In addition, 53% of African American men and 42% of men from low-income backgrounds have had intercourse by the age of 15. Eighty-two percent of men have had sexual intercourse by age 20.9,10 Men are also more likely than women to have multiple sexual partners, increasing their risk of sexually transmitted infections.8 Despite these risky and unhealthy behaviors, men still lag behind women in the access and utilization of reproductive health care services, particularly the use of contraceptives and other family planning methods. The purposes of this paper are (1) to provide a framework in which unmet need for family planning for men is defined; and (2) to explore factors associated with unmet family planning needs for men across different racial/ethnic backgrounds, including the impact of poverty, using National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) data.




Public Health