Preconception health is a woman’s health before she becomes pregnant. It means knowing how health conditions and risk factors could affect a woman or her unborn baby if she becomes pregnant. For example, some foods, habits, and medicines can harm your baby — even before he or she is conceived. Some health problems, such as diabetes, also can affect pregnancy.
Every woman should be thinking about her health whether or not she is planning pregnancy. One reason is that about half of all pregnancies are not planned. Unplanned pregnancies are at greater risk of preterm birth and low birth weight babies. Another reason is that, despite important advances in medicine and prenatal care, about 1 in 8 babies is born too early. Researchers are trying to find out why and how to prevent preterm birth. But experts agree that women need to be healthier before becoming pregnant. By taking action on health issues and risks before pregnancy, you can prevent problems that might affect you or your baby later.
When most people hear the term preconception health, they think about women. However, preconception health is important for men, too.
However, there is increased recognition that men’s reproductive health needs should not be overlooked or neglected.
Men’s reproductive health needs before pregnancy and the effect of a man’s health status on conception and pregnancy outcomes generally receive little attention until fertility issues arise.
Overall, male reproductive health and preconception care are very important, and this is something that should be an integral part of every well-male visit. We need to assess man’s understanding, goals, and intentions regarding reproduction. Should a man desire pregnancy with his partner, we need to discuss medications, conditions, and activities that may affect his fertility or the pregnancy. We need to conduct a physical examination, looking for some of the signs and symptoms of conditions that may affect fertility; assess the family history and genetic susceptibility; assess social history and lifestyle, including smoking, substance abuse, occupational hazards and exposure to chemicals through work or hobbies.
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