Preconception Checkup - Everything You Should Know

Preconception Checkup - Everything You Should Know

A baby needs the absolute best attention and care from the parents not only after they're born but well before they're even conceived. As hopeful parents wanting to start a family, a preconception checkup may be one of the most important appointments for you to make. Let's learn about preconception checkups, why do you need one, what to expect from it and how to prepare for it!

Preconception Checkup: Why is it necessary when you are trying to conceive?

A preconception checkup, as the name suggests and as you may already be aware, is a full body checkup run on mothers before the baby is conceived. It is a checkup you get done before having a baby to make sure you are even healthy enough to have a baby in the first place. Though this checkup is also done on fathers in some cases, the scope is very limited to a general body test along with a sperm count and STI test. In the case of mothers, however, the checkup is more exhaustive and elaborate.

What to expect from a preconception checkup?

Your gynecologist is going to ask you a couple of questions at the preconception check that you may want to think about and prepare yourself for.

• Birth control: If you are on any birth control pills, your doctor will want to know what kind and for how long you've been having it to be able to assess the right period to start trying for the baby.

• Your diet type/ vices: Apart from your diet type, your doctor will discuss your habits, like drinking and smoking, and how often if yes. This question is important because smoking and drinking have a direct impact on the conception ability of parents.

• Medications: Any long-term medications any of the parents are on or have been on in the past. This included even vitamins or supplements of sorts.

• The mother's menstruation cycle: Periods and menstruation are directly associated with pregnancy. Your doctor will need to know when was the last day of your last period, the average length of menstrual cycles, and period-related issues (if any) to be able to assess fertility.

• Family health history: The next important thing your healthcare provider will want to learn about is your medical history. They'll ask if you've had any chronic conditions in the family history; not only physical but also mental. Remember to disclose even the tiniest of conditions/illnesses that run in your family as they could be a base for your doctor to help you and your baby not be impacted by it.

What tests and screening to expect to get done at my preconception appointment?

You will most likely be advised to get done a couple of tests on your preconception visit in addition to the regular standard screenings and testing advised to adults annually. Some of these tests will include-

• A Pap test
• A pelvic, breast, and abdominal exam
• Blood pressure reading
• Screening for fertility-interrupting diseases like uterine fibroids and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
• Weight check to assess BMI
• Urine tests to look for any possible UTI or kidney-related diseases
• A general blood test to screen for a range of possible health conditions like anemia, high blood pressure, deficiencies of vitamins, immunity against rubella & chickenpox, tuberculosis, STI's, etc.
• If you have a cat at home, you may be tested for toxoplasmosis titers
• If you're a person who works in a high-risk category like a healthcare worker, you may be tested for hepatitis B titers
• In case you have has any special conditions like PCOD, diabetes, etc.,  you can expect to have done some special tests in those areas as well
• A general mental health assessment to check for any possible underlying issues like depression, anxiety, panic attacks, mood disorders, etc. It should be noted that you need to make sure you disclose to your doctor if you are seeing a therapist already.

What are fertility tests?

The aforementioned list of tests to expect at your preconception visit is a generalized list of tests to look out for. Fertility tests, on the other hand, are particular or specific tests run to check the fertility of a woman. These tests are usually advised only to women over 35 years of age and may include-

• A test to determine the progesterone levels (usually recommended on the 21st day of the menstrual cycle)
• FSH, and estradiol (done on the 3rd day of the menstrual cycle to assess the number of eggs in your ovaries)
• AMH or  anti-mullerian hormone testing, also to determine the ovarian reserve
• For women who suffer from or are suspected to have PCOS, an additional test may be advised to measure the number of male hormones

Why do I need to visit a dentist for a preconception checkup?

it may sound absurd but dental visits recommended to women who are trying to get pregnant as even the slightest of gum diseases in women are often known to cause severe pregnancy complications such as preterm labor, preeclampsia, and gestational diabetes. As a pregnant woman with gum disease, if you fail to get the issues sorted before actually conceiving the baby, your gum disease situation will most likely get worse and will open the path to a whole new range of complications.

A dentist's appointment may also come in handy to address any underlying issues like a filling or crowns as you potentially will not get the time or motivation after you get pregnant.

Final Thoughts:

Vaccines that are given at the preconception checkups are a must and you should never ignore them just because you received the whole full set of vaccines as a child. This is because these vaccines require certain boosters to maintain a strong immunity before you get your baby on board.

During your preconception checkups, expect your doctor to examine via a blood test as:
• This will help the doctor know whether you have sufficient antibodies that will help keep you and your to-be baby healthy throughout the trimesters of pregnancy.
• It will help the baby fight against diseases as they are not immunized enough until 6 months
• On the other hand, the vaccines that you can expect during the preconception checkups include Measles, mumps, and rubella, or MMR. In case you have never been immunized against them or they have worn off, you’ll need to take them again and wait at least for a month before you can try to conceive.
• This is also true for the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine Hepatitis B (3 shots), HPV (human papillomavirus), which must be specially taken if you are younger than 26, (3 shots). 

Note - In case you are successful in becoming pregnant before the completion of these shots, then you will need to resume them postpartum.

• At last, there are two more shots, namely: the flu shot and the Tetanus-diphtheria pertussis (Tdap) that you’d receive ideally around 27 weeks to 36 weeks during pregnancy, unlike the others.
• Always make sure to visit your health care provider and dentist for a preconception checkup even if you aren’t sick. This will help you to be absolutely sure about not only conceiving but also have a healthy pregnancy and baby.

Now that you have all the knowledge you need to be equipped for a hearty pregnancy, we hope that you hear the good news soon and let the congratulations be in order! For any and everything else you need to know about pregnancy, Parenthood Bliss will be there to hold your hand through it all!


1. Why are folic acid tablets recommended to pregnant women?

Folic acid is a vitamin essential for each body cell for healthy growth and development. Folic acid is recommended to women planning on getting pregnant in order to help protect the baby from potential neural tube defects (brain and spine-associated birth defects).  Typically, prenatal vitamins with 400 micrograms of folic acid per day are advised.

2. What kind of a doctor should I see for a preconception checkup?

There are multiple numbers of doctors that can be visited in order to get your preconception test done. You can either visit an obstetrician (also called ob-gyn), a family physician, a maternal-fetal medicine, your family nurse practitioner (FNP), a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP), a midwife (make sure they're certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board).

3. Do husbands/ fathers also have to do a preconception checkup?

Yes, men are also advised to go for a preconception test and screening visit. The male preconception visit and checkup comprise a general physical exam as well as a sperm test and an STI test to help determine the quality of sperms and any potential STI.

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