Contraceptive needs, complications, and new directions for research

Womens Health Issues. 1996 Nov-Dec;6(6):355-8.


PIP: While contraception has been available during the reproductive lives of all US citizens who are still of reproductive age and the variety of contraceptive methods available has increased, most pregnancies in the US are still unplanned, and many are unwanted. This situation is mimicked among military personnel for whom the qualifications of an ideal contraception include durability as well as the more general requirements of effectiveness, ease of use, and low cost. All currently available methods have limitations and may affect some users adversely while being tolerated well by others. Unacceptable side effects may cause contraception discontinuation and prompt a woman to seek medical care. In addition, some contraceptives work well in certain situations but not in others. It may be hard for a woman with an irregular work schedule to use oral contraceptives (OCs), for example. Several weaknesses in the provision of effective contraception to the US military during the Persian Gulf conflict led to an unacceptably high contraceptive failure rate of 5-10%. The primary reason women had to be evacuated from the area, and the single greatest threat to female troops, was the diagnosis of pregnancy. Pregnant women tied up the field hospitals and the evacuation system, and fear of pregnancy was the most common gynecological complaint. Many women had an inadequate supply of Ocs or were told not to bring them, and there was no formal system for dispensing condoms. All military service members must have ready access to family planning services that offer different forms of contraception (including postcoital) and educate acceptors about effective use. Deployment preparations should include an assessment of contraceptive needs and provision of adequate supplies. The military presents unique opportunities for much needed contraceptive research.

MeSH terms

  • Contraception* / adverse effects
  • Contraception* / methods
  • Contraceptive Agents
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Military Personnel*
  • Research
  • United States


  • Contraceptive Agents