Unintended pregnancy among active-duty women in the United States military, 2008

Obstet Gynecol. 2013 Feb;121(2 Pt 1):241-246. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e31827c616e.


Objective: To estimate unintended pregnancy rates among a representative sample of 7,225 active-duty women in the U.S. military in 2008 and to compare these rates with 2005 and with the U.S. population.

Methods: Cross-sectional data came from the 2008 Department of Defense Survey of Health Related Behaviors among Active Duty Military Personnel (Health Related Behaviors Survey). For all women and by key subgroups, unintended pregnancy rates per 1,000 women were calculated and compared with rates reported in the 2005 Health Related Behaviors Survey. Univariable and multivariable logistic regression to test for associations between unintended pregnancy and key subgroups was also performed. Finally, an age-standardized unintended pregnancy rate was calculated to adjust for differences in age composition between the military and U.S. populations for better comparison with the general U.S. rate.

Results: Eleven percent of women reported an unintended pregnancy in the prior 12 months. The 2008 self-reported unintended pregnancy rate was 105 per 1,000 women, an increase from 2005 (97/1,000 women). Younger, less educated, nonwhite, and married or cohabitating women had significantly higher rates of unintended pregnancy compared with their counterparts. Rates did not differ between women deployed in the prior 12 months and nondeployed women. The age-standardized rate was 78 per 1,000 women (95% confidence interval 77-79), which is 50% higher than the general U.S. population (52/1,000 women).

Conclusion: Unintended pregnancy rates in the military are high and have increased in most key subgroups since the 2005 survey. Efforts are needed to help servicewomen prevent unintended pregnancy, including during deployment.

Level of evidence: II.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Unplanned*
  • United States
  • Young Adult