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Researcher: Military should reassess reproductive health care for women
Date:11/14/2012

ny women in the military today have experienced an unintentional pregnancy. This, she explained, can be detrimental to all parties involved.

In a 2005 DOD survey, 16.29% of military women 20 years old or younger reported an unintended pregnancy in the previous year. In the general population that year, the total pregnancy rate of intended and unintended pregnancies was 7.1% for the same age women. Demographically, Dr. Goyal cited several reasons for the difference, noting that women in the military are predominantly:

  • Young
  • Unmarried
  • Of lower educational achievement
  • Of lower socioeconomic status
  • Racial minorities

In addition, she found that contraceptive use among sexually active military women was low.

"(Research shows that) 50 to 62% of servicewomen presenting with an unintended pregnancy were not using contraception when they conceived," Dr. Goyal reported. "Similar surveys of active-duty personnel of reproductive age demonstrate that although 70 to 85% were sexually active, nearly 40% used no contraception."

This could be the result of lack of access or other factors, including the fact that the military prohibits sexual intercourse outside of marriage and contraception can be viewed as incriminating evidence. She also pointed to the need for additional training of military health care providers.

"Health care providers and the servicewomen themselves need to be more educated about contraceptives. Deployed servicewomen have reported a lack of confidence in the contraceptive knowledge of military medical personnel stationed overseas," Dr. Goyal said.

In conclusion, Dr. Goyal suggested reproductive health education for military and VA health care providers as well as the servicewomen themselves, increasing awareness among civilian providers about reproductive health issues faced by military women, and making emergency contraception available to help reduce unplanned pregnancy. U
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Contact: Susan McDonald
slmcdonald@wihri.org
401-681-2816
Women & Infants Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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