Gynecologic Risk Mitigation Considerations for Long-Duration Spaceflight

Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2020 Jul 1;91(7):543-564. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.5538.2020.


INTRODUCTION: As NASA and its international partners, as well as the commercial spaceflight industry, prepare for missions of increasing duration and venturing outside of low-Earth orbit, mitigation of medical risk is of high priority. Gynecologic considerations constitute one facet of medical risk for female astronauts. This manuscript will review the preflight, in-flight, and postflight clinical evaluation, management, and prevention considerations for reducing gynecologic and reproductive risks in female astronauts.METHODS: Relevant gynecological articles from databases including Ovid, Medline, Web of Science, various medical libraries, and NASA archives were evaluated for this review. In particular, articles addressing preventive measures or management of conditions in resource-limited environments were evaluated for applicability to future long-duration exploration spaceflight.RESULTS: Topics including abnormal uterine bleeding, anemia, bone mineral density, ovarian cysts, venous thromboembolism, contraception, fertility, and health maintenance were reviewed. Prevention and treatment strategies are discussed with a focus on management options that consider limitations of onboard medical capabilities.DISCUSSION: Long-duration exploration spaceflight will introduce new challenges for maintenance of gynecological and reproductive health. The impact of the space environment outside of low-Earth orbit on gynecological concerns remains unknown, with factors such as increased particle radiation exposure adding complexity and potential risk. While the most effective means of minimizing the impact of gynecologic or reproductive pathology for female astronauts is screening and prevention, gynecological concerns can arise unpredictably as they do on Earth. Careful consideration of gynecological risks and potential adverse events during spaceflight is a critical component to risk analysis and preventive medicine for future exploration missions.Steller JG, Blue RS, Burns R, Bayuse TM, Antonsen EL, Jain V, Blackwell MM, Jennings RT. Gynecologic risk mitigation considerations for long-duration spaceflight. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2020; 91(7):543-564.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Astronauts*
  • Female
  • Female Urogenital Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Radiation Exposure*
  • Reproductive Health*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Space Flight*
  • Time Factors