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Women's Health

While women and men have many of the same health issues, women may be affected differently than men. And, some conditions are unique to women. 

Familiarity with women’s health issues, regular screenings and prevention are keys to maintaining good health.

  • TRICARE covers well woman exams annually for women under age 65. 
  • Exams include breast exams, pelvic exams, and Pap smears as needed. 
  • TRICARE covers these exams with no cost share or copayment.

Health Issues

Some of the common health issues female service members, family members and retirees should be aware of include:

Breast Diseases

Most women experience breast changes at some time. Age, hormone levels and medicines may cause lumps, bumps and discharges. Anyone with a breast lump, pain, discharge or skin irritation, should see a health care provider. Minor and serious breast problems have similar symptoms. Although many women fear cancer, most breast problems are not cancer.

Common causes of breast changes include: Fibrocystic breast condition (lumpiness, thickening and swelling, often associated with a woman's period); cysts (fluid-filled lumps); injury; fibroadenomas (solid, round, rubbery lumps that move easily when pushed, occurring most in younger women); intraductal papillomas (growths similar to warts near the nipple); blocked or clogged milk ducts; milk production when a woman is not breastfeeding.

Menopause

Menopause is the time in a woman's life when her menstrual cycle ceases. It usually occurs naturally, most often after age 45. Menopause happens because the woman's ovary stops producing the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

A woman has reached menopause when she has not had a period for one year. Changes and symptoms can start several years earlier. They include: a change in periods; hot flashes and/or night sweats; trouble sleeping; vaginal dryness; mood swings; trouble focusing; less hair on head, more on face.

Some symptoms require treatment. Talk to a doctor about how to best manage menopause. Make sure the doctor knows the medical history and the family's medical history. This includes information related to risks for heart diseaseosteoporosis or breast cancer.

Pregnancy

Women who are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant can help give babies a healthy start with regular visits to healthcare providers. These prenatal care visits are very important for your baby and yourself. Some things you might do when you are pregnant could hurt your baby, such as smoking or drinking. Some medicines can also be a problem, even ones that a doctor prescribed. You will need to drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet. You may also be tired and need more rest.

Your body will change as your baby grows during the nine months of your pregnancy. Don't hesitate to call your health care provider if you think you have a problem or something is bothering or worrying you.

Reproductive Health

Reproductive health issues can impact fertility, overall health and a person's ability to enjoy a sexual relationship.

Reproductive health is influenced by many factors. These include age, lifestyle, habits, genetics, use of medicines and exposure to chemicals in the environment. Many problems of the reproductive system can be corrected.

Uterine Diseases

An early sign of uterine disease may be bleeding between periods or after sex. Causes of abnormal bleeding include hormones, thyroid problems, fibroids, polyps, cancer, infection or pregnancy.

Treatment depends on the cause. Sometimes birth control pills treat hormonal imbalances. If a thyroid problem is the cause, treating it may also stop the bleeding. If you have cancer or hyperplasia, an overgrowth of normal cells in the uterus, you may need surgery.

Other uterine problems are endometriosis and adenomyosis. In endometriosis, the kind of tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. With adenomyosis, the tissue grows in the uterus's outer walls. Pain medicine may help; other treatments include hormones and surgery.

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DHA IPM 16-003: Clinical Practice Guidelines for Access to Methods of Contraception and Contraceptive Counseling

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This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM) establishes comprehensive standards on care with respect to methods of contraception and counseling on methods of contraception for members of the Armed Forces and all who are eligible for medical services through the Military Health System (MHS).

  • Identification #: DHA-IPM 16-003
  • Date: 12/20/2016
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Women's Health
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DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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