Review Article

Men’s utilisation of sexual and reproductive health services in low- and middle-income countries: A narrative review

Mpumelelo Nyalela, Thembelihle Dlungwane
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 38, No 1 | a473 | DOI: | © 2023 Mpumelelo Nyalela, Thembelihle Dlungwane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 July 2022 | Published: 20 June 2023

About the author(s)

Mpumelelo Nyalela, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Thembelihle Dlungwane, School of Nursing and Public Health, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: Men have poor access to sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services globally, particularly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Nevertheless, in LMIC and high-income countries (HICs), low SRH utilisation happens on account of several factors, such as individual, health system-related, and sociocultural factors. Identifying and addressing men’s SRH service underutilisation remains essential to improving their sexual health and averting higher mortality and early morbidity associated with poor health seeking behaviour (HSB) among men.

Aim: This narrative review identifies factors influencing whether men do or do not utilise SRH services in LMICs.

Setting: We report on articles published in LMICs: Africa, Asia and South America.

Method: In this narrative review, we searched for quantitative and qualitative articles published between 2004 and 2021 from international databases, including Google Scholar, ScienceDirect, EBSCOhost, Scopus, PubMed, Medline, and reference lists of retrieved published articles.

Results: A total of 2219 articles were retrieved, from which 36 met the inclusion criteria. Factors contributing to poor uptake of SRH services by men included: a lack of access and availability of SRH services, poor health-seeking behaviour among men, and SRH facilities not being perceived as ‘male-friendly spaces’. Furthermore, our review reveals that decreased use of SRH services is attributed to factors such as a lack of focus on men’s SRH.

Conclusion: The current underutilised state of SRH services calls for urgent implementation of evidence-based interventions. Identifying men’s SRH service inhibitors and enablers will assist programme managers and policymakers in designing SRH services tailored to their sexual health needs.

Contribution: Despite numerous global interventions to motivate men, the findings provide insight into the underutilisation of SRH services. The study also reveals the inadequate comprehensive investigation of men’s SRH service utilisation, especially older men, to comprehend men’s problems fully. Further research needs to be conducted on SRH issues, including vasectomy, mental health, and chronic conditions related to sexual and reproductive health. The analysis can assist SRH policymakers and program managers in strengthening the policies to motivate men to engage better with SRH services.



men; sexual and reproductive health services; factors influencing SRH service utilisation; factors facilitating or inhibiting the SRH service utilisation; low- and middle-income countries


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