Marriage is a bond between 2 people who have come together to live their life as one for the rest of their life. While we know that couples cannot wait to settle down and live together, it is very important to get everything right from the onset as much as you can, to prevent issues that might raise friction sometime later on in the marriage.
Medical tests are one of the things that need to be gotten right. It is an essential part of marriage preparation to check out medical areas of compatibility, and ensure that both parties are OK, or detect problems & proffer solutions where necessary, so as to have a good marital life.
Medical Laboratory Tests Before Marriage
Having this in mind, outlined below are five (5) important medical tests that prospective couples are recommended to do before marriage.
- Tests for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
- Genotype test
- Blood group & Rhesus Status
- Fertility Test
- Assessment for any Chronic medical conditions
- Genetic/Genotypic screening
- Mental Health Assessment
Test for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI)
As couples who would be moving in together, and expect to make children, sex is a very essential component of married life. Hence, the need to test for any STIs and treat them where necessary. This is very important because a number of STIs do not show symptoms for a long time. What this means is that a person can live with an STI and not even know they have it. The sad part is that these infections can then be passed on to the partner, and may end up affecting the partner later on, and possibly in pregnancy as well.
Hence, the first series of tests to be done is those for these sexually transmitted infections. Examples of these infections are;
- Viral STIs: These include HIV, Hepatitis B& C, Herpes (HSV), and HPV (which causes cervical cancer & genital warts).
What to Do if any partner is positive?
It is important to know that these viral STIs are not curable (there is no cure for them, but they can be managed). Also, they can be prevented and knowledge of the fact that a partner is positive can help in its prevention. There are different available ways to prevent them, such as
- Barrier Contraceptive use also known as Condom (primary and very important), helps ensure that most of these infections are not transmitted. The only exception to this is HPV which can still be transmitted despite the use of contraceptives. This is because it can be transmitted even when there is contact with the scrotum of the man, or the labia of the woman, which are not covered by condoms.
- Antiviral drugs (helps to reduce Viral load & decrease the risk of transmission both from partners as well as from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth & breastfeeding.
- Vaccination: a good number of these Infections can be prevented by vaccination. Examples of this include; Hepatitis, and HPV which can cause genital warts & cervical cancer.
On what to do: It is the ultimate choice of the partners to decide if their love is strong enough to still want to go ahead and get married despite the results, but as explained above, there are available means of managing the situation.
2. Bacterial STIs: The infections caused by bacterial agents like syphilis, gonorrhoea, yeast & Chlamydia are all curable, hence, if any partner tests positive, you should see your doctor. He would prescribe a combination of antibiotics that should take care of it. You would always ensure you finish your antibiotics as prescribed to reduce the chances of recurrence of the infection.
Your next concern should be knowing your intending spouse’s genotype and rhesus compatibility.
If you do not know what a genotype is, we have previously explained that. You can read it here.
Genotype is very important due to the burden of Sickle-cell Anaemia in our environment today. It is essential to know your genotype so as to reduce your chances of giving birth to children with Sickle cell disease, due to the increased financial consideration in caring for these children.
Summary of genotype for couples;
- AA male & AA female would give birth to children with AA genotype (normal)
- AA male & AS female would give birth to a possible combination of normal (AA) & carrier children (AS)
- AA male/female & SS male/female would give birth to children who are all carriers of the sickle cell trait (AS)
- SS male & SS female would give birth to children who are all sicklers.
- AS male/female & SS male/female would give birth to a possible combination of carriers (AS) and sicklers (SS)
- AS male & AS female would give birth to a possible combination of normal (AA), carrier (AS) or sickler (SS).
Note: for AS & AS, all these are probabilities for each pregnancy. It doesn’t mean if you have 4 children that they would be like that. All four can be okay (AA) and all 4 can also be sicklers (SS).
the Rhesus factor is a substance (antigen) found in the blood that can sense a person’s immune system. This factor divides us into two groups. If you have the antigen in your blood, you are Rhesus positive. If you do not have the antigen, you are Rhesus negative.
So, why is RHESUS FACTOR important in marriage?
Have you ever heard of a woman killing her own child??
Yes, I’m sure you must have heard about it. In fact, some grandmother’s in the past used to accuse their son’s wife of being with and EATING HER OWN UNBORN BABIES due to her having multiple pregnancies & multiple miscarriages. One of the reasons that this can happen is due to Rhesus Factor Incompatibility. Hence it is very very important to know that before marriage.
Now, the most important factor here is the Rhesus status of the woman. If a woman is Rhesus NEGATIVE and she marries a Rhesus POSITIVE man, that is when this problem is likely to happen. If this happens, blood from the child can cross and enter the mother’s body at some point during the pregnancy. When this happens, the Rhesus-positive antigens that have entered the mother’s blood would now be sensitive to the mother’s immune system (soldiers of her body) to the presence of the child in the womb.
These soldiers (the immune system of the mother) would now see the child as being a foreign body (that is to say, the child doesn’t belong) because the blood isn’t the same, due to the difference in rhesus factors. Hence, the immune system of the mother would now move to destroy the Child (foreign body) leading to a miscarriage. Even if the mother gets pregnant 100 times, she is going to have that miscarriage 100 times after the first pregnancy, which she would deliver successfully. The rhesus system of the mother kills the child in a process known as the Haemolytic Disease of the Newborn.
How do we prevent this? What do I do if my partner is Rhesus Negative?
To prevent this, doctors & delivery attendants have to give the woman a drug (an immunoglobulin D popularly known as Rhogam D) after every pregnancy she would have. It has to be given within 72 hours of delivery, but best as early as possible, to prevent sensitization of the mother’s immune system. It helps to suppress the immune system.
Next, fertility tests are very important, because a major goal of every new couple, especially in this part of the world, is to make babies and anything that would cause difficulty in achieving that has to be assessed and addressed immediately.
With regards to fertility, there are at least 3 common tests that you should do to check fertility. They are many others that you can do, but this one is basic. They include;
- Seminal Fluid Analysis (SFA): this helps to access the man and ensure that his sperms are viable and that the man is fertile.
- Hormonal assay: this checks for important hormones that help in making babies, and ensure that they are OK.
- Pelvic Ultrasound Scans: This is like taking a picture of inside your body, only that the picture would be in black and white and only a professional (radiologist) would be able to tell you what is in the picture. The scan will check the state of the internal reproductive organs and ensure they are all OK or if there is any abnormality. It will also confirm if you are truly a man or a woman. Surprised right? Don’t be. There are conditions known as Ambiguous genitalia where a person can be male on the outside but female on the inside. This test helps confirm that you are truly what you are.
Your doctor would guide you on what to do if there is any abnormality.
Check for Chronic Medical Conditions
while this is not as important as the ones above, and cannot be transmitted to you in any way, it is important to know if your prospective spouse has any of the following chronic medical conditions;
This disease is very important, and this would help you know what to possibly expect in the future, and also make the necessary changes were necessary to help you live a long and fruitful life.
Genes are basically the software that parents give their children.
Some conditions such as albinism, sickle cell disease, Marfan syndrome, and others are genetically inherited from parents to their children.
Genetic testing is important when some illness proves to be prevalent in a certain area or among some family members for example sickle cell, therefore, genetic testing is to assess if parents are carriers and is important in assisting them to make informed choices in conception and possibility that the child might get the disease.
Mental Health Assessment
Generally, sound mental health is important in a couple’s marriage. Some mental health issues can be easily picked up such as autism, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia and some neurodevelopmental disorders.
The knowledge of the mental health status of the couples would help these partners to prepare in case the couple need any long-term care. Some of these conditions are hereditary and may be passed down to the offspring.
Feel free to ask any questions you may have using the comment below, and I would do my best to answer them as soon as I can.