Once hands begin to touch and couples feel comfortable enough, they forget that intimacy and physical attraction are not the only important things to consider before saying their vows.
Marriage and family therapist Fahra Mawji stresses the need to check a partner’s sexual, reproductive and mental health before deciding to start a family, have children or enter into a sexual relationship.
“A premarital health check-up can help you cope with any obstacles you may encounter. “You’ll be able to make informed decisions,” he says.
Premarital screening involves multiple tests to detect fertility problems, hereditary disorders and diseases that run in families, or acquired diseases that are transmitted from parents to children.
Infertility is a very painful journey. It causes anxiety, causes shame when people talk about it, and puts the blame on women. Dr. Kireki Omanwa, consultant obstetrician and gynecologist and fertility specialist, says you should never wait until you want to get pregnant before thinking about your fertility.
“Infertility is not just a women’s problem. It occurs in both men and women. Surprisingly, 40 to 45 percent of men are affected, compared with 35 percent of women. Even after comprehensive diagnostic process, approximately 20% of infertility cases remain ‘unexplained’,” he said.
Parents can pass on genetic diseases such as blood disorders, kidney disease, Huntington’s disease, sickle cell anemia, and even cystic fibrosis to their children.
Consultant obstetrician and gynecologist Dr Edgar Gouravi said the tests could help assess the risk of passing on genetic diseases to children.
“If both partners are carriers of a particular genetic disease, their children are at risk of developing the same disease. Knowing your genetic makeup can help couples make prudent decisions about family planning, including seeking genetic Counseling or assisted reproductive technology to reduce the chances of offspring inheriting the disease,” said Dr. Quravi.
In sub-Saharan Africa, without regular newborn screening and appropriate treatment, an estimated 50% to 90% of newborns with sickle cell die before their fifth birthday.
HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections
HIV and STIs pose risks whether you are married or not. Regular HIV and STI testing can help maintain a healthy marriage.
“By consistently getting tested, couples can protect themselves from potential harm, strengthen their emotional connections and strengthen their relationships,” Dr Omanwa said.
STI testing can detect diseases such as HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and hepatitis B. These diseases can have serious consequences.
“Hepatitis B, for example, is 100 times more contagious than HIV and can even be passed to newborns during delivery,” he said.
“Undiagnosed HIV and STIs can have serious consequences for someone’s physical and mental health
mental health conditions
Paranoia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and family trauma can all put stress on a marriage. Before getting married, find out if the love of your life has a family background of mental illness.
Clinical psychologist Ambika Shivashanmugam said healing from past relationship harm and illness, including mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, should be discussed openly.
“Beyond that, counseling can give you tools for conflict management, allowing you to be more present and develop a sense of fondness,” he says.
Shivashan Mugam says premarital counseling can help you understand your partner’s mental health needs. “If your partner is dealing with depression or anxiety, understand their condition and support them,” she says. Married couples should also prioritize their mental health.
Rh factor and blood group testing
The presence of Rh factor, a protein on the surface of red blood cells, can cause pregnancy complications if one person is Rh positive and the other is Rh negative. Blood tests are critical during pregnancy, especially for rhesus factor.