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.
Women veterans have unique reproductive health care needs that may be shaped by their military experiences and coexisting medical or mental health conditions.
Reproductive Heath Program, Department of Veterans Affairs, and Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York.
Corresponding author: Laurie C. Zephyrin, MD, MPH, Reproductive Heath, Department of Veterans Affairs, New York University School of Medicine, 423 East 23rd Street, New York, NY 11030; e-mail: Laurie.Zephyrin@nyumc.org.
Financial Disclosure The author did not report any potential conflicts of interest.
The author thanks Drs. Jodie Katon, Julie Weitlauf, and Lisa Callegari, whose prior and ongoing work helped to guide and shape this piece and whose thoughtful review of prior drafts of the manuscript was valuable and much appreciated.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Department of Veterans Affairs.