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Reproductive Health of Active Duty Women in Medically Austere Environments

Publication Status: Published

Sponsoring Organization: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Sponsoring Office: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Congressionally Mandated: No

Funding Source: Defense Health Agency (formerly TRICARE Management Activity)

Release Date/Publication:

Principle Investigator Status: Government

Primary DoD Data Source: Review

Secondary DoD Data Source:


One in seven of the approximately 2.2 million Department of Defense active duty military personnel are women. Among active duty servicewomen, about 40% are under 26 years old, and almost half are young, lower ranking enlisted personnel. This article will include a review of the literature on military women's health topics such including contraception access, pregnancy, and pregnancy outcomes after environmental exposures. In these early adult years, contraception use may not be consistent, leading to higher rates of unintended pregnancy that is similar to their civilian counterparts, but it may affect troop readiness. Women who become pregnant after deployment must be evacuated from theater. Complications in pregnancy that require immediate intervention, such as ectopic pregnancy, may be more difficult to diagnose and manage if far away from comprehensive medical services. Environmental exposures may affect the pregnancy outcome, or may produce delayed responses for future childbearing. Women face other gynecologic choices including menstrual suppression while deployed. Many of these issues have not been fully studied, sample sizes are small or methodological flaws exist in the analysis limiting conclusions that can be drawn. Further research with greater rigor, larger sample sizes, and careful design are needed to address many of these questions.


Krulewitch CJ. Reproductive Health of Active Duty Women in Medically Austere Environments. Mil Med. 2016 Jan;181(1 Suppl):63-9.

Last Updated: July 11, 2023
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