|Abstract or Summary
- Men are frequently left out of the picture in the study of family planning and sexual risk behavior. This approach means few programs and policies address men's family planning and sexual health issues. There is also a lack of understanding of the role fatherhood plays in men's development and in family planning and sexual health. For Mexican immigrant men, the picture is even worse given their disadvantaged position and the unique obstacles they face (e.g., language barriers, acculturation issues) that put them at risk for experiencing unintended pregnancies and contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Grounded in symbolic interactionism and life course theory, I explored how social roles (e.g., partner, father), individual factors (e.g., education, cultural values), and health systems influence the family planning and sexual risk-taking experiences of young Mexican immigrant men paying particular attention to differences and similarities between fathers and nonfathers. To answer the research questions, a qualitative study was conducted using secondary data from the Latino Health Project: Men Only. The sample was comprised of 21 fathers and 25 nonfathers ages 18 to 30 (N = 46), all of whom had lived in the United States for 10 years or fewer, thus being considered recent immigrants. Data for the project were collected using a semi-structured interview guide with open-ended questions followed by directive probes. The analysis process used grounded theory methodology techniques (LaRossa, 2005). Key findings suggest that both fatherhood status and partners play an important role in men's experience with sexual and reproductive health, with partners playing a more influential role. Fatherhood plays a more active role in men's ideas about family planning while partners seem to play an influential role in men's actual behaviors such as engaging in family planning services and using birth control other than condoms. The influence that fatherhood and partners have on men's experiences with family planning and sexual risk-taking was shaped by a unique combination of accurate information, different levels of knowledge, and misinformation. Access to services was shaped by health systems that prevented men from seeking services due to documentation issues and economic barriers. Cultural factors such as machismo, marianismo, and personalismo also influenced some attitudes and behaviors related to birth control use, vasectomies, risk-taking, and services utilization. Findings suggest these men are exposing themselves and their partners to unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections. Beyond these being public health concerns, it is crucial that researchers, policy makers, and service providers remember that current sexual risk behaviors have a direct impact on the fertility and family formation patterns of the fastest growing population in the United States.