How women’s reproductive cycles and sexual health affect their suicide risk


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Fact Sheet/Issue Brief
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

The suicide rate among women Veterans is nearly twice that of their civilian peers. Sexual dysfunction associated with suicidal ideation is stronger among women experiencing military sexual assault. Special risk factors are associated with women’s reproductive cycles such as suicide risk during the perinatal, premenstrual and perimenopausal periods. While effective identification, assessment and treatment of mental health issues associated with sexual health can reduce suicide risk, research has shown that VA providers tend to underassess and underaddress these issues. This brief provides an overview of the problem and discusses ways in which providers can take these issues into account as they screen for, treat and open conversations about sexual health and suicide risk among their female patients.