Young Men's Communication With Partners and Contraception Use: A Systematic Review



      The rate of adolescent unintended pregnancy in the U.S. is high compared with that in other developed countries. While past research and interventions have focused on young women, the role of young men in pregnancy prevention has increasingly been recognized. Studies have assessed young men's knowledge and attitudes toward pregnancy prevention as well as their role in male-controlled methods of birth control such as condoms or withdrawal. However, less is known about how young men contribute to decision-making about contraceptive methods other than condoms with female partners. The purpose of this systematic review was to explore how young men communicate with their female partners and the effect of such communication on contraception use to prevent pregnancy.


      We conducted a systematic review of six databases to identify English language articles published from January 1, 2002, through March 24, 2019. The review specifically explored how young men aged 11–24 years communicate with and affect their female partner (noncondom) contraceptive use. The systematic review explored additional questions, including those pertaining to the timing of partner communication in a relationship, communication strategies used by young men, and which dynamics of partner communication were measured in studies.


      Of the 12 articles identified as exploring male partner communication, five of the articles used quantitative analysis to measure any association between partner communication and contraception use, three of which produced statistically significant findings suggesting that communication increases the use of contraception other than condoms. Seven qualitative studies provided supporting narratives from young men describing communication with partners and how they influence contraception use by female partners. The articles also explored timing and strategies of communication, as well as topics, prompts, and communication cues used by young men. Measurements of both communication and contraception varied across studies.


      With the small number of studies identified in this systematic review, we conclude that future research needs to corroborate the relationship between partner communication and contraception use with more robust and precise measurements of both communication and contraception.

      Key words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of Adolescent Health
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Kost K.
        • Maddow-Zimet I.
        • Apraia A.
        Pregnancies, births, and abortions among adolescents and young women in the United States, 2013: National and state trends by age, race, and ethnicity.
        Guttmacher Institute, New York2017
        • Martin J.A.
        • Hamilton B.E.
        • Osterman M.J.K.
        • et al.
        Births: Final data for 2017.
        Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2018; 67: 1-50
        • Lindberg L.D.
        • Santelli J.S.
        • Desai S.
        Changing patterns of contraceptive use and the decline in rates of pregnancy and birth among U.S. adolescents, 2007-2014.
        J Adolesc Health. 2018; 63: 253-256
        • Finer L.B.
        • Zolna M.R.
        Declines in unintended pregnancy in the United States, 2008-2011.
        N Engl J Med. 2016; 374: 843-852
        • Sedgh G.
        • Singh S.
        • Hussain R.
        Intended and unintended pregnancies worldwide in 2012 and recent trends.
        Stud Fam Plann. 2014; 45: 301-314
        • Coleman J.
        • Dennison C.
        Teenage parenthood.
        Child Soc. 1998; 12: 306-314
        • Saewyc E.M.
        What about the boys? The importance of including boys and young men in sexual and reproductive health research.
        J Adolesc Health. 2012; 51: 1-2
        • Sonfield A.
        Looking at men’s sexual and reproductive health needs.
        Guttmacher Rep Public Policy. 2002; 5: 7
        • Bell D.L.
        • Garbers S.
        • Catallozzi M.
        • et al.
        Computer-assisted motivational interviewing intervention to facilitate teen pregnancy prevention and fitness behavior changes: A randomized trial for young men.
        J Adolesc Health. 2018; 62: S72-S80
        • Wheeler N.J.
        • Pilgrim N.
        • Jennings J.M.
        • et al.
        Missed opportunities to address pregnancy prevention with young men in primary care.
        Clin Pediatr. 2018; 57: 1558-1566
        • Lindberg L.D.
        • Maddow-Zimet I.
        • Marcell A.V.
        Prevalence of sexual initiation before age 13 years among male adolescents and young adults in the United States.
        JAMA Pediatr. 2019; 173: 553-560
        • Martinez G.M.
        • Abma J.C.
        Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing of teenagers aged 15-19 in the United States.
        NCHS Data Brief. 2015; : 1-8
        • Bell D.L.
        • Breland D.J.
        • Ott M.A.
        Adolescent and young adult male health: A review.
        Pediatrics. 2013; 132: 535-546
        • Heywood W.
        • Patrick K.
        • Smith A.M.
        • Pitts M.K.
        Associations between early first sexual intercourse and later sexual and reproductive outcomes: A systematic review of population-based data.
        Arch Sex Behav. 2015; 44: 531-569
        • Males M.A.
        Adult involvement in teenage childbearing and STD.
        Lancet. 1995; 346: 64-65
        • Martin J.A.
        • Hamilton B.E.
        • Ventura S.J.
        • et al.
        Births: Final data for 2010.
        Natl Vital Stat Rep. 2012; 61: 1-72
        • Scott M.E.
        • Nicole R.
        • Steward-Streng M.A.
        • et al.
        The characteristics and circumstances of teen fathers: At the birth of their first child and beyond.
        Child Trends. 2012; (2012-19): 1-6
        • Carter M.W.
        • Bergdall A.R.
        • Henry-Moss D.
        • et al.
        A qualitative study of contraceptive understanding among young adults.
        Contraception. 2012; 86: 543-550
        • Merkh R.D.
        • Whittaker P.G.
        • Baker K.
        • et al.
        Young unmarried men's understanding of female hormonal contraception.
        Contraception. 2009; 79: 228-235
        • Frost J.J.
        • Lindberg L.D.
        • Finer L.B.
        Young adults' contraceptive knowledge, norms and attitudes: Associations with risk of unintended pregnancy.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2012; 44: 107-116
        • Raine T.R.
        • Gard J.C.
        • Boyer C.B.
        • et al.
        Contraceptive decision-making in sexual relationships: Young men's experiences, attitudes and values.
        Cult Health Sex. 2010; 12: 373-386
        • Clark Jr., S.D.
        • Zabin L.S.
        • Hardy J.B.
        Sex, contraception and parenthood: Experience and attitudes among urban black young men.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1984; 16: 77-82
        • Gilliam M.
        • Woodhams E.
        • Sipsma H.
        • Hill B.
        Perceived dual method responsibilities by relationship type among African-American male adolescents.
        J Adolesc Health. 2017; 60: 340-345
        • Ku L.
        • Sonenstein F.L.
        • Pleck J.H.
        The dynamics of young men's condom use during and across relationships.
        Fam Plann Perspect. 1994; 26: 246-251
        • Marcell A.V.
        • Raine T.
        • Eyre S.L.
        Where does reproductive health fit into the lives of adolescent males?.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2003; 35: 180-186
        • Borrero S.
        • Farkas A.
        • Dehlendorf C.
        • Rocca C.H.
        Racial and ethnic differences in men's knowledge and attitudes about contraception.
        Contraception. 2013; 88: 532-538
        • Johnson S.D.
        • Williams L.B.
        Deference, denial, and exclusion: Men talk about contraception and unintended pregnancy.
        Int J Mens Health. 2005; 4: 223-238
        • Hamm M.
        • Evans M.
        • Miller E.
        • et al.
        “It's her body”: Low-income men's perceptions of limited reproductive agency.
        Contraception. 2019; 99: 111-117
        • Gilliam M.L.
        • Neustadt A.
        • Whitaker A.
        • Kozloski M.
        Familial, cultural and psychosocial influences of use of effective methods of contraception among Mexican-American adolescents and young adults.
        J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2011; 24: 79-84
        • North Clarke KEK J.M.
        • Wiener J.B.
        • Hatfield-Timajchy K.
        • et al.
        Factors associated with contraceptive use differ between younger and older African-American female adolescents.
        J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2016; 29: 448-453
        • Johnson A.Z.
        • Sieving R.E.
        • Pettingell S.L.
        • McRee A.L.
        The roles of partner communication and relationship status in adolescent contraceptive use.
        J Pediatr Health Care. 2015; 29: 61-69
        • Kerns J.
        • Westhoff C.
        • Morroni C.
        • Murphy P.A.
        Partner influence on early discontinuation of the pill in a predominantly Hispanic population.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2003; 35: 256-260
        • Northridge J.L.
        • Silver E.J.
        • Talib H.J.
        • Coupey S.M.
        Reproductive coercion in high school-aged girls: Associations with reproductive health risk and intimate partner violence.
        J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 2017; 30: 603-608
        • Moher D.
        • Liberati A.
        • Tetzlaff J.
        • Altman D.G.
        Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: The PRISMA statement.
        BMJ. 2009; 339: 332-336
        • Khalil H.
        • Peters M.
        • Godfrey C.M.
        • et al.
        An evidence-based approach to scoping reviews.
        Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2016; 13: 118-123
        • Peters M.D.
        • Godfrey C.M.
        • Khalil H.
        • et al.
        Guidance for conducting systematic scoping reviews.
        Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2015; 13: 141-146
        • Liberati A.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Tetzlaff J.
        • et al.
        The prisma statement for reporting systematic reviews and meta-analyses of studies that evaluate health care interventions: Explanation and elaboration.
        Ann Intern Med. 2009; 151: W65-W94
        • Higgins J.P.
        • Altman D.G.
        • Gotzsche P.C.
        • et al.
        The Cochrane Collaboration's tool for assessing risk of bias in randomised trials.
        BMJ. 2011; 343: d5928
        • Amialchuk A.
        • Gerhardinger L.
        Contraceptive use and pregnancies in adolescents' romantic relationships: Role of relationship activities and parental attitudes and communication.
        J Dev Behav Pediatr. 2015; 36: 86-97
        • Manlove J.
        • Ryan S.
        • Franzetta K.
        Contraceptive use and consistency in U.S. teenagers' most recent sexual relationships.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2004; 36: 265-275
        • Manlove J.
        • Ryan S.
        • Franzetta K.
        Contraceptive use patterns across teens' sexual relationships: The role of relationships, partners, and sexual histories.
        Demography. 2007; 44: 603-621
        • Widman L.
        • Welsh D.P.
        • McNulty J.K.
        • Little K.C.
        Sexual communication and contraceptive use in adolescent dating couples.
        J Adolesc Health. 2006; 39: 893-899
        • Stone N.
        • Ingham R.
        Factors affecting British teenagers' contraceptive use at first intercourse: The importance of partner communication.
        Perspect Sex Reprod Health. 2002; 34: 191-197
        • Brown K.E.
        • Arden M.A.
        • Hurst K.M.
        A qualitative analysis of accounts of hormonal contraceptive use: Experiences and beliefs of British adolescents.
        Eur J Contracept Reprod Health Care. 2007; 12: 269-278
        • Fefferman A.M.
        • Upadhyay U.D.
        Hybrid masculinity and young men’s circumscribed engagement in contraceptive management.
        Gend Soc. 2018; 32: 371-394
        • Chernick L.S.
        • Siden J.Y.
        • Bell D.L.
        • Dayan P.S.
        A qualitative assessment to understand the barriers and enablers affecting contraceptive use among adolescent male emergency department patients.
        Am J Mens Health. 2019; 13 (1557988319825919)
        • Buston K.M.
        Experiences of, and attitudes towards, pregnancy and fatherhood amongst incarcerated young male offenders: Findings from a qualitative study.
        Soc Sci Med. 2010; 71: 2212-2218
        • Galloway C.T.
        Exploring African American and White 18-19 year old males' communication experiences with their parents and partners about sex and contraception.
        (Order No 3565745) Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global (1417778053) Available at:
        • Abma J.C.
        • Martinez G.M.
        Sexual activity and contraceptive use among teenagers in the United States, 2011-2015.
        Natl Health Stat Rep. 2017; : 1-23