Infertility in Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans
According to a study of Veterans who served in Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), or elsewhere during the same time period, 15.8% of women and 13.8% of men reported that they had experienced infertility. Infertility is defined as trying with a partner to get pregnant for more than 12 months.
Infertility among the general population in the U.S. ranges from 8% to 20%, depending on the definition used. Infertility can be defined in many different ways, so it is difficult to make direct comparisons between the Veteran population and the non-Veteran population.
The causes of infertility were similar between the Veterans participating in the study and that of couples in the U.S. undergoing fertility treatment. Causes included problems with ovulation or issues with sperm or testes.
Women Veterans were more likely to seek care for infertility than male Veterans. Approximately 40% of men and women Veterans with a history of infertility reported that they or their partner sought infertility treatment.
Findings from the New Generation Study
The findings are from the National Health Study for a New Generation of U.S. Veterans, a long-term study on the health of 30,000 OEF/OIF Veterans and 30,000 Veterans from the same era who were not deployed. Read the abstract on self-reported infertility.
Talk to your health care provider if you are concerned about infertility.
VA offers a variety of health care benefits to eligible Veterans, including infertility evaluations and some treatment.
Not enrolled in the VA health care system? Find out if you qualify. OEF/OIF/OND Veterans are eligible for VA health care for five years after leaving the military. There are other ways to qualify too, including by having a service-connected disability.
- Stephen EH, Chandra A. Declining estimates of infertility in the United States: 1982-2002. Fertil Steril. 2006; 86: 516-523.
- Zinaman MJ, Clegg ED, Brown CC, O’Connor J, Selevan SG. Estimates of human fertility and pregnancy loss. Fertil Steril 1996; 65:503-509.
- Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Report 2010. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/art/ART2010/PDFs/ART_2010_National_Summary_Report.pdf Accessed July 22, 2015.
Related Study Publications
Katon J, Cypel Y, Raza M, Zephyrin L, Reiber G, Yano EM, Barth S, Schneiderman A.Self-reported infertility among male and female veterans serving during Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom J Womens Health (Larchmt) 2014; 23:175-183.