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Military Health System

2020 DOD Women’s Reproductive Health Survey (WRHS)

The Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs (ASD-HA) in coordination with Defense Health Agency (DHA) sponsored this survey.

The purpose of this study is to assess the reproductive health of active duty female service members. The survey will provide the Department of Defense (DOD) with current data on health issues that may impact their readiness and that will inform policies and programs designed to improve the well-being of female service members. 

Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Endorsement Letter

Key Findings

  • Just over 60 percent of DOD active duty service women (and just over half of Coast Guard ADSW) indicated that they received an appointment with a primary care physician within one week, and almost three-quarters of both DOD and Coast Guard active duty service women indicated that they received an appointment with an OBGYN within 28 days, per TRICARE guidelines.
  • Of the 21 percent of DOD active duty service women who had experienced a urinary tract or vaginal infection during a deployment in the two years prior to the survey, 64 percent indicated that it always or sometimes interfered with their performance or job duties. For active duty service women in the Coast Guard, 12 reported an infection, and over three-quarters said that it always or sometimes interfered with their job.
  • Roughly 60 percent of both DOD and Coast Guard active duty service women reported any current contraceptive use. Approximately three in ten were currently using a highly effective form of contraception.
  • Approximately one in five ADSW reported being unable to access their preferred form of birth control through the Military Health System (MHS) at some point since joining the military.
  • Among active duty service women who deployed within the past 24 months, a minority reported receiving any contraceptive counseling from an MHS provider prior to deployment: 18 percent of DOD active duty service women and 9 percent of Coast Guard active duty service women.
  • Just over 16 percent of DOD active duty service women and 13 percent of Coast Guard active duty service women were pregnant in the one-year period covered by the survey. The unintended pregnancy rate was 5.9 percent.
  • Half of DOD active duty service women (and 43 percent of ADSW in the Coast Guard) who had been pregnant in the year prior to the survey reported depression during or after the pregnancy.
  • Fifteen percent of DOD active duty service women and 11 percent of Coast Guard ADSW were unable to conceive after 12 months of trying, a common definition of self-reported infertility. Twelve percent of DOD active duty service women (and 8 percent of Coast Guard active duty service women) reported an unmet need for fertility services since joining the military.

To learn more, visit the RAND Report.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers about the 2020 DoD Women's Reproductive Health Survey for Active Duty Service Members.


What is the purpose of the DOD Active Duty Women’s Reproductive Health Survey (WRHS)?


This survey assesses the reproductive health and well-being of female military personnel and examines behaviors and experiences that female service members have that may impact readiness. Results will be used to monitor female service members’ needs, develop policies, and improve programs and services for service women.


Will my answers be kept private?


Yes. As noted earlier, this survey is confidential. This means that RAND and Westat will not give DOD information about who participated in the study, or provide your responses to them in a way that can identify you. DOD has agreed to this condition to protect your privacy.


Can I complete the survey during duty hours/ on a government computer?


Yes. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Endorsement Letter posted above indicates that you can use a computer at work to do the survey.


What do I do if I experience any discomfort or distress from filling out the survey?


Some questions on the survey are sensitive in nature and it is possible that you may feel discomfort in answering one or more of these items. If you feel distressed, we encourage you to contact your unit’s chaplain or a mental health professional. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call 911 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255) immediately. Additional resources can be found in the “HELP” section (hyperlink to HELP).


Do I have to take the survey?


The survey is entirely voluntary. If you choose to take the survey, you may skip any question or stop at any time.


Did I already answer these questions in earlier DOD surveys?


This is the first time in nearly 30 years that a DOD-wide study of only female service members’ experiences has been completed. Some service members may have seen some of these questions on other surveys in the past. But because those studies were of limited groups of women, and because of confidentiality protections, that information cannot be used to provide a complete picture of service women’s experiences, reproductive health and well-being. 


Who do I contact if I have questions or concerns about the survey?

  • Call the survey contractor, Westat, for computer, technical, or survey questions: by phone toll free at 1-855-954-3039 or by email at
  • Contact RAND for questions about the overall study:  Email:
  • Questions about your rights as a participant in this study: Contact RAND's Human Subjects Protection Committee toll-free at (866) 697-5620 or by emailing Please reference Study #2018-0692.

What do I need to do to fill out the web survey?


You should go to the following website link: and use your unique code to log in. If you have problems accessing the website, contact the Westat Survey Help Desk listed above.


Do I have to complete the web survey in one sitting?


You may use the weblink above and your unique identification code to re-start the survey wherever you stop at a time that is more convenient for you.


How long is the survey?


This survey takes about 12-15 minutes.


Who is doing this study?


The Department of Defense (DOD) asked the RAND Corporation to conduct an independent, objective assessment of female service members’ reproductive health, well-being, and experiences in the military.


Who is the RAND Corporation?


RAND is a private, nonprofit organization that conducts research and analysis to help improve public policy and decision-making.  For more information about RAND, see:


Who is Westat?


Westat is an internationally known research and statistical survey organization. Westat manages the technical aspects of the web survey operations and can help you with any computer or technical problems. For more information about Westat see:


Why did you pick me?


A random sample of active duty female service members below the level of flag officer (i.e., Admiral/General) in the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy, and all active duty women (below the level of flag officer) in the Coast Guard were invited to participate. 


How did you get my name?


We obtained your name and basic demographic information (e.g., service branch, pay grade, age, education level) from the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC), which maintains DOD personnel records. Because we are doing an official, approved DOD survey, DMDC was authorized to give us this information. Only study staff will be able to link your survey responses to your contact information, not DOD or anyone else. 


How will the survey findings be used?


Results will be used by DOD to improve policies and programs to better support service women. RAND will report survey findings to DOD and the public in a way that does not identify individuals. 


Why should I participate?


This is your chance to be heard on issues that directly affect the health, well-being, and experiences of women in the military. The survey results will help inform DOD of issues women in the military may face and help suggest ways to solve or prevent them and improve readiness. 

Last Updated: September 16, 2022
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