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2020 DOD Women’s Reproductive Health Survey (WRHS)

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD-HA) in coordination with Defense Health Agency (DHA) sponsored this survey.

The purpose of this study is to assess the reproductive health of active duty female service members. The survey will provide the Department of Defense (DOD) with current data on health issues that may impact their readiness and that will inform policies and programs designed to improve the well-being of female service members. 

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Endorsement Letter

Key Findings

  • Just over 60 percent of DOD active duty service women (and just over half of Coast Guard ADSW) indicated that they received an appointment with a primary care physician within one week, and almost three-quarters of both DOD and Coast Guard active duty service women indicated that they received an appointment with an OBGYN within 28 days, per TRICARE guidelines.
  • Of the 21 percent of DOD active duty service women who had experienced a urinary tract or vaginal infection during a deployment in the two years prior to the survey, 64 percent indicated that it always or sometimes interfered with their performance or job duties. For active duty service women in the Coast Guard, 12 reported an infection, and over three-quarters said that it always or sometimes interfered with their job.
  • Roughly 60 percent of both DOD and Coast Guard active duty service women reported any current contraceptive use. Approximately three in ten were currently using a highly effective form of contraception.
  • Approximately one in five ADSW reported being unable to access their preferred form of birth control through the Military Health System (MHS) at some point since joining the military.
  • Among active duty service women who deployed within the past 24 months, a minority reported receiving any contraceptive counseling from an MHS provider prior to deployment: 18 percent of DOD active duty service women and 9 percent of Coast Guard active duty service women.
  • Just over 16 percent of DOD active duty service women and 13 percent of Coast Guard active duty service women were pregnant in the one-year period covered by the survey. The unintended pregnancy rate was 5.9 percent.
  • Half of DOD active duty service women (and 43 percent of ADSW in the Coast Guard) who had been pregnant in the year prior to the survey reported depression during or after the pregnancy.
  • Fifteen percent of DOD active duty service women and 11 percent of Coast Guard ADSW were unable to conceive after 12 months of trying, a common definition of self-reported infertility. Twelve percent of DOD active duty service women (and 8 percent of Coast Guard active duty service women) reported an unmet need for fertility services since joining the military.

To learn more, visit the RAND Report.

Last Updated: December 15, 2022
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