Voluntary and involuntary childlessness in female veterans: associations with sexual assault.

Research paper by Ginny L GL Ryan, Michelle A MA Mengeling, Brenda M BM Booth, James C JC Torner, Craig H CH Syrop, Anne G AG Sadler

Indexed on: 31 May '14Published on: 31 May '14Published in: Fertility and Sterility®


To assess associations between lifetime sexual assault and childlessness in female veterans.Cross-sectional, computer-assisted telephone interview study.Two Midwestern Veterans Administration (VA) medical centers.A total of 1,004 women aged ≤52 years, VA-enrolled between 2000 and 2008.None.Sociodemographic variables, reproductive history and care utilization, and mental health.A total of 620 veterans (62%) reported at least one attempted or completed sexual assault in their lifetime (LSA). Veterans with LSA more often self-reported a history of pregnancy termination (31% vs. 19%) and infertility (23% vs. 12%), as well as sexually transmitted infection (42% vs. 27%), posttraumatic stress disorder (32% vs. 10%), and postpartum dysphoria (62% vs. 44%). Lifetime sexual assault was independently associated with termination and infertility in multivariate models; sexually transmitted infection, posttraumatic stress disorder, and postpartum dysphoria were not. The LSA by period of life was as follows: 41% of participants in childhood, 15% in adulthood before the military, 33% in military, and 13% after the military (not mutually exclusive). Among the 511 who experienced a completed LSA, 23% self-reported delaying or foregoing pregnancy because of their assault.This study demonstrated associations between sexual assault history and pregnancy termination, delay or avoidance (voluntary childlessness), and infertility (involuntary childlessness) among female veterans. Improved gender-specific veteran medical care must attend to these reproductive complexities.