Contraceptives are Hard to Get For Women in Combat

Women in combat have a hard time finding birth control pills.

Women can now fight in combat. This is a big change and a welcome one – but just because women have broken this barrier doesn’t mean everything is all peaches and cream for females in the military.

According to NPR, once the military lifts its “women in combat” restriction next year, nearly 245,000 jobs will become available to capable females. Although these jobs will technically be open to women, that doesn’t mean these positions won’t have inherent challenges. For one, these jobs are dangerous (and incredibly demanding). And secondly, getting coverage for certain women’s health issues while in combat is difficult.

NPR reports that it’s extremely hard for women in combat zones to obtain contraceptives. While some people may brush off this issue like it’s no big deal, it really is. Nearly 15 percent “active-duty service members are women, and 97 percent of them are of childbearing age.”

The article states that the “rates of unintended pregnancy among women in the military are about 50 percent higher than those of women in the general population. And because of strict federal rules, their health insurance does not generally cover abortion.”

And many women in combat have a difficult time obtaining certain kinds of birth control, too. Under Tricare, “the health care plan for more than 9 million active and retired members of the military,” some methods of birth control aren’t available at all military hospitals and clinics. Also: When women are overseas, other types of birth control methods aren’t always available, either.

In addition to having a difficult time getting certain types of birth control, women also face challenges when taking medication and refilling prescriptions.

“There is the problem of trying to schedule a daily birth control pill when traveling across time zones; and desert conditions may make a contraceptive patch fall off. Although women are allowed a 180-day supply of contraceptives before deploying, obtaining refills of the same pill can be difficult, some servicewomen reported in a 2012 survey,” reports NPR

So far, no solutions have been discovered to alleviate this problem, but we can fix that: Put a woman on this contraception job and she’ll get it done not just for herself, but for her fellow women in the military.

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.