Contraceptive prescriptions for US servicewomen, 2008–2013

Catherine T. Witkop*, Bryant J. Webber, Kasi M. Chu, Leslie L. Clark

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective To determine the proportion and characteristics of US servicewomen who were prescribed contraception between 2008 and 2013 and to estimate the prevalence of contraceptive utilization among women who deployed during the surveillance period. Study design This is a descriptive study of all servicewomen of child-bearing potential serving in the active component of the US armed forces at any time between 2008 and 2013. We estimated contraceptive utilization status using pharmacy, procedural and diagnostic codes as recorded in the Defense Medical Surveillance System and Pharmacy Data Transaction Service. Estimates of contraceptive utilization were compared by demographic and military variables, including deployment status. Poisson regression with robust error variance was used to estimate adjusted prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals. Results Among eligible servicewomen (N=375,847), 68.7% received at least one form of contraception during the surveillance period. Contraceptive methods included short acting only (55.6%), long-acting (11.9%), permanent (1.0%) and barrier methods (0.2%). An additional 8.2% received counseling services only without an associated procedure or prescription. After adjusting by several demographic variables, receipt of contraception was highest among women aged 25–29 years and lowest among those aged 17–19 and 45–49 years. Receipt of any contraception was similar across racial/ethnic groups, although Hispanic and black, non-Hispanic women were more likely to receive long-acting reversible contraception. Of those who deployed (N=131,597), 53.6% received contraception before or during their deployment, with 7.9% using long-acting contraception. Conclusion US servicewomen utilize contraception at high levels, with few demographic disparities. Gaps still exist, especially among the youngest women and around the time of deployment. Implications US servicewomen are prescribed contraception at high levels, but utilization is lower in the youngest servicewomen and around the time of deployment. Such data provide opportunities for development and evaluation of interventions designed to improve access to contraceptive services for all servicewomen and to reduce the rate of unintended pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2017


  • Contraception utilization
  • Military
  • Servicewomen
  • Unintended pregnancy


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