Preconception Care

Congratulations! You and your partner have agreed that this is the time to begin your family. This is also an appropriate time to make an appointment with your medical professional to talk about your decision and to establish a partnership with your doctor to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.

The Value Of The Preconception Visit

Preconception visits, a concept that began in 1989 in the US, are proving the fact that women are taking charge of their reproductive health. The idea behind the preconception visit is that a couple will work together with an OB/GYN to develop and program specially designed for them which will provide for quick conception. The couple has the added advantage of benefitting from the expertise of the doctor to decrease the risk of miscarriage and birth defects.

Questions About Reproductive Health

Both you and your partner will give the doctor a thorough history of your reproductive health. While the doctor may have yours on file, he will also want to know about your partner. The doctor will want to know how many children he has fathered and if he has fathered any children with birth defects. Along with your reproductive health, the doctor will want to know about your family history (if he doesn't already have it) and your partner's family history. Your doctor will ask about conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, birth defect, mental retardation, cystic fibrosis and any inherited diseases such as Tay-Sachs, sickle cell anemia or Thalassemia.

Personal Histories Uncover Potential Problems

Personal medical history is very important in order for the doctor to be able to establish any risk factors, such as conditions or diseases that can affect fertility. Sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhea, syphilis and HPV, as well as PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) can result in fertility issues. Other factors the doctor will consider will be heart disease, epilepsy, German measles, mumps, and chronic health issues like arthritis, colitis, and weight problems.

An Opportunity For Change

Lifestyle can also affect your ability to conceive and your partner's ability to produce an adequate amount of healthy sperm. Relative to lifestyle, your doctor will want to know how much alcohol each of you consumes regularly, what your diet is like and whether you take vitamins. He will also ask about smoking and recreational drug use. Environmental toxic exposure is another area to be examined, and you may be asked about pets. Cats can transmit a parasite that carries an infection called toxoplasmosis which is very dangerous to pregnant women and unborn babies.

Your Turn To Ask The Questions

While it may seem the doctor is gathering a lot of information, the preconception visit is also a time for you to ask questions to your doctor. You will want to know which medications are safe for you to take, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs. If obesity is an issue, ask about weight loss assistance. Ask if there is a need for any blood tests to be completed in order to measure immunity to communicable infections like rubella and chicken pox. If you are unsure of what to expect in terms of symptoms when you become pregnant, be sure to ask the doctor what you can expect.

Even though most of what is talked about at a preconception visit is just common sense, it can provide information and clues if there are problems with conception or infertility issues.

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