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This is why you need a preconception health check …

Preconception Health Check for pregnant coupleThose who have never tried for a baby often think it’s going to be easy.

After all, we’ve spent so long NOT getting pregnant that conceiving is as simple as throwing away the contraception, right?

And if you’ve already had a baby, you probably (and understandably) think you can easily get pregnant again.

The increasing use of assisted reproductive treatment, like IVF, tells a different story.

About one in 10 couples have difficulty conceiving. IVF can be an emotionally and financially demanding process – and only about 17 per cent of all the assisted reproductive treatments delivered in a year result in a baby.

Age and lifestyle factors like weight, smoking and alcohol use, together with the timing of sex to coincide with ovulation, can all affect your chances of getting pregnant and having a healthy baby.

So, if you’re thinking about trying to conceive, whether your first baby or an addition to your family – it’s a good time to book in for a preconception health check-up with your doctor.

  • If you’re in a heterosexual relationship, both parents-to-be should get a check-up because it’s not just the health or age of the mother-to-be or father-to-be that matters. It’s the combination. For example, if a man in a couple is a heavy smoker, exposure to the smoke can affect his partner’s fertility. Or if one person in a couple is very overweight (whether male or female), that can affect the chances of conception, as well as the health of the baby.
  • Through a preconception health check-up your doctor can identify any potential pitfalls on your path to conception and having a healthy baby. If any of the key fertility factors – age, weight, smoking, alcohol use or the timing of sex – are likely to have an impact, your doctor can give you appropriate treatment, advice or referral.
  • Your doctor can let you know if any prescription or alternative medicines you’re taking might be harmful for a pregnancy or baby, and advise how to address any conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome that might affect your ability to conceive.
  • They can also check whether you have been immunised against rubella, which can cause serious harm to a developing baby.
  • Your preconception health check-up might also involve your doctor helping you to identify your fertile window – those three days in a woman’s cycle when conception is most likely to take place.

So it is always a good idea to have a chat to your doctor before you start trying to conceive. By identifying and addressing any issues now you may save yourselves a lot of stress and worry later.

Image credit: dolgachov/ 123RF Stock Photo

Have your say:
Do have any of the risk-factors for potential conception difficulties? Would you consider a preconception health check-up?
What do YOU think? Let us know.

Louise Johnson

About Louise Johnson

Louise Johnson is CEO of the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) which provides information about assisted reproductive treatment, including IVF, donor ...

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