More than half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended at the time of conception. Although women make up 13% of the U.S. Army, there are no epidemiological studies of unintended pregnancy in U.S. Army soldiers. This descriptive study was conducted to determine the prevalence of and factors associated with unintended pregnancy in female soldiers presenting for prenatal care at Madigan Army Medical Center. All soldiers presenting for prenatal care from mid-February 1996 through mid-February 1997 were asked to fill out an anonymous, 12-page written questionnaire. All but one soldier (99.7%) agreed to participate (N = 347). Overall, 55% of soldiers presenting for prenatal care reported that their pregnancies were unintended at the time of conception. The majority of officers (60%) and noncommissioned officers (65%) reported that their pregnancies were intended. In contrast, only 39% of the junior enlisted soldiers reported that their pregnancies were intended at the time of conception. The majority of women (62%) who reported that their pregnancies were unintended were not using any form of birth control during the month they conceived. The most common reason for not using birth control was the stopping of contraception because of side effects. The most common contraceptive method used by those women who reported birth control use during the month they conceived was the male condom. The majority of pregnancies among junior enlisted soldiers presenting for prenatal care at Madigan Army Medical Center are unintended. Prevention programs should target this subpopulation of soldiers and address knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs related to the use of contraception among those at risk for unintended pregnancy.
PIP: To determine the prevalence of and factors associated with unintended pregnancy in women in the US Army, a questionnaire was administered to all female soldiers presenting for prenatal care to the Madigan Army Medical Center (Fort Lewis, Washington) in a 12-month period in 1996-97. 347 of the 348 such women agreed to complete the anonymous questionnaire. Mean age was 24.2 years; 48% were White, 33% were Black, and 10% were Hispanic. Overall, 189 women (55%) reported their pregnancy was unintended at the time of conception. This rate was 61% among junior enlisted soldiers, 40% among officers, and 35% among noncommissioned officers. 117 women with unintended pregnancies (62%) were not using any form of contraception at the time of conception, primarily because of side effects experienced with previous use of oral contraceptives or Depo-Provera. Unintended pregnancy was significantly associated with lower rank, younger age, single marital status, lower income, lower educational level, and involvement in a relationship of less than 1 year's duration. Since soldiers who became pregnant during the study period and elected to have an abortion were not included in this sample, the actual prevalence of unintended pregnancy among woman soldiers is considerably higher than 55%.