Department of Defense to cover sperm and egg freezing for active-duty military
Recently, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the Department of Defense will start a 2-year pilot program to cover the cost of sperm and egg freezing for active-duty service members.
According to Carter, the program has two goals: (1) to “help our men and women preserve their ability to start a family, even if they suffer certain combat injuries” and (2) to provide service members “greater flexibility” with family planning.
Most active-duty service members are in their peak reproductive years
Fertility preservation is important for service members, as many of them enlist during peak reproductive years. In fact, almost half of enlisted service members are under the age of 26 and 22% are between 26-30.
Kansas fertility center doctor Dan Gehlbach, MD, knows that it’s critical for women, who made up 15% of the active-duty military in 2014, to take steps to preserve their fertility while they’re still young. Fertility decreases with age, so it’s important for women to start thinking about egg freezing in their 20s and early 30s.
Defense Secretary Carter hopes that egg freezing will help retain women in the military
Carter also says that women who reach 10 years of military service have a 30% lower retention rate than men. This is likely because most women are in “their peak years for starting a family” after 10 years of service. The Department of Defense hopes that paying for egg freezing will encourage women to delay starting a family and stay in the military longer.
Department of Defense will examine expanding its coverage of other fertility services
In addition to this pilot program, which could become permanent after the Pentagon reevaluates it in 2 years, the Department of Defense will also look into expanding its coverage of other fertility services.
Advocacy groups have long believed that the Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs should cover fertility treatment for service members whose infertility was caused by their military service.
Dr. Gehlbach offers sperm and egg freezing at his Kansas fertility center and has reported excellent success rates. If you’re curious about sperm or egg freezing at Midwest Reproductive Center, please contact us.