Women Veterans’ Reproductive Health Diagnoses Vary Across Lifespan

Women Veterans’ Reproductive Health Diagnoses Vary Across Lifespan

Almost 50 percent of female veterans who availed of Veterans Affairs health care back in 2010 were diagnosed with at least one reproductive condition, with a recent analysis finding the trend in diagnoses varied across age categories.

Jodie G. Katon, PhD of the Health Services Research and Development at the Department of Veterans Affairs wrote, “Understanding the reproductive health care needs of women veterans using VA, through examination of their reproductive health diagnoses, can provide critical information for policy planners.”

Katon and a team of researchers ran a cross-sectional analysis of patient data obtained from the Women’s Health Evaluation Initiative database to identify what these diagnoses at the Department of Veterans Affairs health care were and how women veterans’ sociodemographics and clinical attributes related to them.

Their findings revealed 43 percent (n = 127,530) of these women received at least one reproductive health diagnosis. Women who were between ages 18 and 44 (n = 16,658) were commonly diagnosed with menstrual disorders and endometriosis. Those aged 45 to 64 years old (n = 20,707) were diagnosed with menopausal disorders, and many of those aged 65 and older (n = 8,365) were found to have osteoporosis. Further, Katon and her colleagues found the women with reproductive health conditions were also more likely to have associated mental and medical health conditions.

“The high prevalence of comorbid medical and mental health conditions among women veterans with reproductive health diagnoses highlights the importance of integrating reproductive health expertise into all areas of VA health care, including primary, mental health and specialty care. Ongoing efforts to expand reproductive health services within VA increase coordination for fee basis care, and incorporation of tele-health technology are expected to continue to enhance reproductive health care for women veterans,” Katon and colleagues wrote in their report.

Women serving in the United States military have begun taking on more diversified roles, with a good number of them achieving top ranks in all branches of the military. Many of these women experience long-term deployments and prolonged war zone exposures, thereby increasing their risk of coming home with medical and mental conditions. As these brave women transition back into their communities as Veterans, the Veterans Health Administration gives special attention to those in their mid twenties, mid forties, and mid fifties, following a lifespan approach that upholds the importance of overall and reproductive healthcare.