Objective: To assess the perspectives of couples who requested vasectomy in a public health service on the use of male participation contraceptive methods available in Brazil: male condoms, natural family planning/calendar, coitus interruptus and vasectomy.
Methods: A qualitative study with semi-structured interviews was held with 20 couples who had requested vasectomy at the Human Reproduction Unit of the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil. Data analysis was carried out through thematic content analysis.
Findings: The couples did not, in general, know any effective contraceptive options for use by men and/or participating in their use, except for vasectomy. The few methods with male participation that they knew of were perceived to interfere in spontaneity and in pleasure of intercourse. Men accepted that condom use in extra-conjugal relations offered them protection from sexually transmitted diseases; that their wives might also participate in extra-marital relationships was not considered.
Discussion: The few contraceptive options with male participation lead to difficulty in sharing responsibilities between men and women. On the basis of perceived gender roles, women took the responsibility for contraception until the moment when the situation became untenable, and they faced the unavoidable necessity of sterilization.
Conclusions: Specific actions are necessary for men to achieve integral participation in relation to reproductive sexual health. These include education and discussions on gender roles, leading to greater awareness in men of the realities of sexual and reproductive health.