Operational Medicine Medical Education and Training

Operational Obstetrics and Gynecology

Military Medicine

Providing health care in military settings is similar, in some ways, to civilian settings and in some ways different.

In civilian settings, the primary responsibility is to the patient, with secondary concerns from the insurance company, employer and family. In military settings, the primary responsibility is to the Command.

In most cases, the interests of the Command and the interests of the patient are the same, particularly in a garrison setting. In a deployed setting, divergence of interest may occasionally arise, creating challenges for the military health care provider.

Military medicine also differs from civilian medicine in three other fundamental ways:

  • Medical providers are isolated.

  • Medical resources are limited.

  • Operational circumstances may influence the provision of medical care.

It is because of these differences that clinical problems in an operational setting may be treated differently than the same clinical problem in a civilian setting. The principles of treatment are the same: the application of treatment may be different.

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Operational Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Women’s Health Care

For the most part, women's health care needs are the same as men's health care needs. Women develop coughs, colds, stomach upsets, contusions, abrasions, and fractures. They need preventative care and immunizations.

However, some of their health care needs are different:

  • Women have some unique gynecologic and obstetric needs.

  • Women may have different vulnerabilities to certain diseases or injuries.

  • Women may use health care services differently than men.

Women in the Military

Military women are a unique group. They are a generally young, healthy population, pre-screened for most common, chronic diseases. They are, for the most part, physically fit and engage in regular exercise.

Women in the military are, as a group, younger than their male counterparts, are of lower rank, sustain more stress fractures, and utilize health care services twice as often. Even after excluding female-specific reasons (OB, GYN), they still use health care services more often. In this regard, they are similar to civilian women who also use health care services more often. In most studies, like their civilian counterparts, although they use health care services more often, they are generally less satisfied with those services than men.

Women in the military come from many backgrounds. Among Navy recruits, nearly half have been victims of physical domestic abuse prior to entry into the service, a figure similar to their male counterparts.

As a group, women have:

  • More self-reported chronic conditions and all acute conditions except injuries

  • Higher illness rates

  • More days of illness and disability

  • 10% more acute conditions, particularly infections, respiratory problems and digestive conditions

  • Poorer vision

  • Poorer dental status

  • Better hearing

  • More genitourinary problems

  • Less chronic illness leading to death

  • Lower death rates

About one-third of the OB-GYN health care visits made by military women are for routine care. Most of the remaining visits are for:

  • STD diagnosis and treatment

  • Menstrual abnormalities

  • Vaginitis

  • Urinary tract problems

  • Pregnancy-related problems

Continue to the PowerPoint Lecture...


Operational Obstetrics & Gynecology
2nd Edition

Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Department of the Navy


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