February 2013

Contraception access and use among US servicewomen during deployment

Grindlay K, Grossman D. Contraception access and use among US servicewomen during deployment. Contraception. 2013 Feb;87(2):162-9

Background: Approximately 12% of active duty US servicewomen have an unintended pregnancy each year; however, little is known about contraception use during deployment.

Study Design: From April to November 2010, we conducted an online survey with a convenience sample of 281 servicewomen who had been deployed overseas to assess access to and use of contraception for deployment.

Results: Sixty-three percent of respondents used birth control for part or all of their last deployment. Although military health insurance covers most contraceptive methods, one third reported that they were unable to access a method they might want for deployment, and 59% did not speak with a military provider about contraceptive options prior to deployment. Certain methods were reportedly discouraged or not available for some women, including intrauterine devices and sterilization, and 41% of women requiring refills found them difficult to obtain.

Conclusions: Given the high prevalence of unintended pregnancy among servicewomen, efforts should focus on improving contraceptive counseling prior to deployment and ensuring refill access during deployment, as well as expanding access to long-acting reversible methods.