Reproductive Health Management for the Care of Women Veterans

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Abstract

There are more than 2 million women veterans living in the United States. Many women do not identify themselves as veterans. As women's health care providers, it is important to understand and recognize the potentially complex health and social needs of women veterans and the role of military service on their lives. The reproductive health needs of women veterans may be shaped by their military experiences and coexisting medical or mental health conditions. Military sexual trauma and combat exposure are common causes of posttraumatic stress disorder and can affect overall health and well-being. Screening for military service is important in all women, and inclusion of this as a key demographic variable in research and clinical encounters can further inform health care considerations. The following key topics are addressed: who are women veterans, health and social risk factors associated with a history of military service, reproductive health across the life course, military sexual trauma and reproductive health of women veterans, how to take a military history, and the essential role of women's health providers, including obstetrician–gynecologists, in enhancing health systems and providing high-quality care to veterans.

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