Unintended pregnancy and contraceptive use among women in the U.S. military: a systematic literature review

Mil Med. 2011 Sep;176(9):1056-64. doi: 10.7205/milmed-d-11-00012.


U.S. servicewomen's ability to plan pregnancies is of concern to the military in terms of troop readiness and cost and is an important public health issue. Contraception access and use are crucial, particularly given the high prevalence of sexual assault in the military and the benefits of menstrual suppression for deployment. We systematically searched for publications on contraception, unintended pregnancy, and abortion in the military. Pregnancy and unintended pregnancy rates are higher among servicewomen than the general U.S. population. Contraceptive use may be somewhat higher than the nonmilitary population, although use decreases during deployment. Reported use of hormonal methods for menstrual suppression is lower than interest. There are limited data on these topics; more large, representative studies and longitudinal data from all branches are needed, along with qualitative research to explore findings more deeply. Emergency contraception and abortion are particularly underresearched.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Amenorrhea / chemically induced
  • Contraception
  • Contraception Behavior*
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Menstrual Cycle / drug effects
  • Military Personnel*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Rate
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned*


  • Contraceptive Agents