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VA RESEARCH QUARTERLY UPDATE
This Issue: The Returning Veteran | Table of Contents: Winter 2018 | Download this issue

New & Ongoing Studies

Impact of sexual assault and combat trauma on fertility in Veterans


Investigator: Ginny L. Ryan, MD; Funding period: February 2015–January 2019.

 Sexual assault and/or combat-related trauma can impact Veterans' ability to have children. <em>(Photo ©iStock/Favor_of_God)</em>
Sexual assault and/or combat-related trauma can impact Veterans' ability to have children. (Photo ©iStock/Favor_of_God)

Sexual assault and/or combat-related trauma can impact Veterans' ability to have children. (Photo ©iStock/Favor_of_God)

Investigators at the Iowa City VA Health Care System in Iowa, are investigating the relationship between sexual assault, combat-related trauma, and infertility in male and female Veterans. Her team will interview by telephone a nationwide group of reproductive-aged Veterans. They will then use statistical models to analyze the association between sexual assault, combat-related trauma, and infertility.

The second phase of the study will use semi-structured telephone interviews with Veterans from the original group who are identified as infertile. Researchers will then attempt to further understand the complex relationships between trauma exposures and infertility.

Ryan, an associate professor of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Iowa, is interested in better understanding the root causes behind infertility in Veterans and helping them access better treatment. Veterans from the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan tend to be younger, are more often female, and are more likely to a have suffered extreme injuries. Researchers say these Veterans are at greater risk of infertility because of their experiences with sexual assault, PTSD, physical trauma to the genital area, and chemical exposures.


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